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The Joy of Button Making: Pinback Buttons, Fabric Buttons, and Photo Buttons

When you first hear the term “button making” you may not immediately think of the word “fun.” But guess what…you should! Making buttons is an engaging and entertaining experience, made all the more enjoyable by the fact that you end up with useful products once you are done. Whether you are looking to fundraise for a cause you believe in, promote a campaign, or show support for a person, band, or team, buttons are a terrific solution. In this article, we are going to highlight three fun and useful types of buttons, each of which make button making a truly joyful and productive pastime. Fabric Buttons A number of different attachments, such as a keychain, zipper pull, or cell phone charm can turn any button into a personalized novelty item. This is especially useful for embroidery shops, which can make a personalized fabric button to accessorize any item. There are a number of backs that can be used with a fabric button. While some prefer a pinback to decorate a purse or to wear on clothing, a jacket, or a hat, others might want a more versatile back. Snap-Inz shoe charms are used to turn a fabric button into a shoe charm to decorate Croc shoes. These charms can be glued to the back of a button and simply snapped into place through the holes on the Croc shoes. Another use for fabric buttons is as a ponytail holder. This can be accomplished with a special button back that has an eyelet to run a ponytail elastic through. Other specialty kits can include button bracelets and necklaces, as well as pacifier clips (paci-clip) and keychains. Pinback Buttons Pinback buttons have a variety of uses, and both fabric buttons and photo buttons overlap into this category. But one specific use for pinback buttons is promoting bands. Pinback buttons have been in use for a number of years and some are quite popular as collector’s items, especially for independent bands. A number of rock bands in the 70’s sold 1-inch pinback buttons with the band’s logo or name. The tradition of buttons for bands has increased as more and more bands search for cheap ways to promote and advertise themselves, an album, a show, or even a particular song. Additionally, many bands have evolved to use more than just 1-inch buttons for promotional purposes. Refrigerator magnets, medallions, and earrings have also become popular because of how easy they are to produce. The most cost-effective method for how to promote your band through promotional buttons will depend on how many buttons are desired. If you only want a very small amount for a one-time promotion, ordering the buttons for bands from a custom button making retailer can be a decent option. However, what the vast majority of bands are finding out is that a small portion of gate receipts from one show can allow them to invest in a 1-inch button maker and a circle cutter, and this offers bands the ability to create and customize their own pinback buttons for different shows and albums. Photo Buttons Photo buttons have a wide variety of uses, and most of them seem to revolve around parents making photo buttons with pictures of their kids. In fact, if you’ve been to one high school sporting event in your life, there is no doubt you have seen exuberant parents proudly displaying their sons and daughters with a photo button. In fact, any high school athletic department would be wise to look into photo buttons as a way to help raise funds. Photo buttons are typically made with 2-1/4 inch, 3 inch, and 3-1/2 inch buttons. The two larger sizes are widely used because you have a much larger canvas to work with. This allows you to put the student-athlete’s picture on the photo button and then customize the text. A 2-1/4″ button gets a little a crowded with a much smaller picture. For circular photo buttons, circle cutters are a great way to get the picture sized perfectly. The typical sports photo button costs about a nickel to make and most athletic departments of photo vendors who produce the buttons for the schools can charge anywhere from $5-$8. This is a pretty significant profit margin. And the more you make and sell, the cheaper the overall cost becomes. So, as you can see, the possibilities with buttons are endless. We’ve only scratched the surface of the many uses for fabric buttons, pinback buttons, and photo buttons. The moral of the story is simple though: with your own button machine and supplies, the whole wide wonderful world buttons is open to you; and you limited only by your own creativity. Brighid Brown - Director of Blogging and All Things Cool at ABM

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