How-To: Leather Buttons and Toggles

Working a project and need a cheap-and-easy method of fastening two things together? A button sounds like just the thing. We’ve been using them for a few millenia, but surprisingly enough the button pre-dates the button hole by several centuries.

Before the button hole was invented, folks would make a loop of leather, cord or twine and push the button through that. It helps to have a wider button with this method, so they made toggles, which can really be anything vaguely stick-shaped – or even a stick. Antler tips lend themselves to the task well since they polish up nice, but a scrap of leather can work just as well.

Here I’m going to show you one way of making a leather toggle. There’s always more than one way to do something like this though, so feel free to improvise.


Step one is to cut out a strip of thin leather in a roughly V shape. If you want to dye it, do that before you go any farther. Once you have the color you want, punch a pair of holes side by side at the narrow end, thusly:


Now roll that up with the flesh side on the inside, starting at the wide end. You may need to bash the leather a bit with a mallet to help persuade it to bend into a tight roll. when you get it all rolled up, mark through the holes onto the layer beneath.


Now unroll it and punch holes where you marked it…


…and take a length of leather lace and push it through the second pair of holes you made so that the connection happens on the flesh side of the leather:


Now is a great time to add some glue between the two pairs of holes if you’re of a mind, it will help secure the toggle from getting mushed around during use. Time to roll it back up again, and when you get to the end, push the lace through the other holes, which should match up if you managed to do it the same way twice.


And viola:


No go forth, and secure your projects!

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