Rustic antler buttons can be the making of your beautiful crunchy hand knitted sweater. If you’re a knitter, weaver or other fibre artist, learn how to make these great accents.
With natural materials the focus, why settle for a mass produced plastic button when you could have beautiful buttons hand crafted from nature’s bounty?
I usually try and get the ‘spikes’ from very young bucks for making into buttons for light garments or more delicate fabrics, with the thicker older 4-5 point antlers for heavier knits.
The thicker the fabric, the heavier the antler that you can use.
Antler buttons are made from thin slices of the antler which are polished and drilled with holes to attach them with yarn to the garment.
Hold the antlers steady in a vice and cut them with a hacksaw, or use a band saw if you’re doing a lot at one time.
Be warned – the smell of the antlers while cutting is not pleasant, so make sure you work in a well ventilated area, and use a mask to prevent breathing the dust.
Cut the buttons no more than 2mm (1/8th") thick, and aim for even thickness over the whole button. Carefully file off the rough edges and burrs with a file or medium sandpaper, then using lighter grade sandpaper, gently clean off each surface. Try not to take off the edge too much, as they have such great texture. The aim is not to make these look mass produced, you want to retain the natural handmade look.
Using a small drill bit, drill two holes fairly close to the center. Keep in mind that the inner core of the antler is the most porous, and leave enough area between the holes to make a secure attachment when you sew them on to the garment.
Clean off the edges of the drilled holes, so the yarn that you use doesn’t become frayed with use.
Once all the edges are smoothed to your liking, sew them on to your sweater as they are to become more worn with use, or coat them with spray on Varathane, furniture polish or other wax, or lightly oil with vegetable oil.
Always remember that these, similar to bone, can be very appealing to your pets and hang your sweaters up out of reach at the risk of finding your sweater chewed.