Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making Pinback Buttons

I've been selling pins as merchandise for my band for the past couple years... they're small, customizable, and inexpensive. They've inspired collections and design contests as well, which is super fun! My first few orders of these pinback buttons were made by my friend Chris, but after a few batches, her machine broke. I decided to do some research and buy my own button machine so I could start making them myself, and after reading some reviews, I ended up buying a 1.5" professional system from American Button Machines. It's been a few years since then, and this button machine is still in as great shape as ever. They even offer a lifetime warranty, so if it breaks with regular use, they'll replace it.

Last night, I put all of my button-making stuff out on our living room floor, ready to make as many as I could during our favorite television night of the week (because of The Voice and Smash, if you're curious!). I printed out the button templates with my designs on them, cut them into strips, and fed them through the circle cutter which you can see at the top and slightly to the left in the picture above. Once all of the circles were cut out, I moved to the button machine itself, which looks like this:

It's a little oily and dusty because it's been loved considerably. First, the button machine has to be loaded, with the front metal piece, the cut-out paper design, and a little mylar circle to seal it in on the left side. The right side gets just one piece, which is the back piece with the safety pin attached! Next, the platform that those two sections sit on has to rotate clockwise (with a little push from me). Then, I pull the red handle once, spin the platform counter-clockwise, and pull the red handle down again.

With a good amount of practice, this can go pretty quickly. It's a good activity to keep me busy while I'm watching television because it doesn't require too much concentration. Of course, it looked like so much fun that my cats were more than willing to join in and help.

If you're considering buying a button machine, I would absolutely recommend that you get one from American Button Machines! Aside from the fact that their machines are durable and efficient (my friend's machine made it through only a few hundred buttons before it broke, but my machine has helped me to make over 5,000), their customer service is just the best. They really do stand by their products and treat their customers really well. To check out their machines and all of the things they can make, visit AmericanButtonMachines.com!

Lastly, these are the buttons I've been making to sell on tour this summer! I designed them in Adobe Illustrator and they're some of my favorites I've ever made. They're also available on my online merch store at LaurenFairweather.Storenvy.com if you'd like to buy the set right now.


  1. I have actually trying to find pinback button machines lately, so this post is a godsend! American Button Machines is one of the companies I was looking into, so it's great to see some positive feedback for them. Thanks for sharing!

    Oh! And your buttons are so cute! I'm hoping to go to your Hattiesburg show, so maybe I'll pick some up there! :)

  2. This is so great! As soon as you emailed me back I went ahead and bought the starter kit. It's so easy to use. I've made buttons for my boyfriend's band and the Nerdfighter group I run. Everyone loves them! Thanks for the great recommendation Lauren! =)