Chinese frog buttons are both decorative and functional. These buttons are used on traditional Chinese clothing and are common on other Asian clothing designs. Buttons are composed entirely of knotted cord, usually braided satin or nylon. The particular method used to form the knot insures that the shape is maintained and won’t fall apart during wear. Frog buttons have a rounded appearance and fasten onto clothing with regular slit buttonholes cut to accommodate the button size, or are attached using decorative frog fasteners. Making Chinese frog buttons requires some skill, but with a little practice, they can look impressively elegant.
Cut a 12-inch length of cord for each button you wish to make. If you’re a novice, you may want to dip the ends of the cord into hot wax before you begin so they don’t fray while you’re working. It may take several tries to get a pretty knot and cord ends will fray if you have to undo them to start over.
Using your left hand to hold the cord, spread apart the index and middle finger approximately two inches. Hold one end of the cord between the thumb and middle finger of the left hand. Left-handed people should hold cord in the right hand.
Wind the cord around the index and middle fingers twice with the end of the cord positioned on the inside of the hand. Keep the cords straight and don’t allow overlapping.
Loop the cord twice around the entire vertical sections of cord. Keep the loops separated, the first loop above the second one. Just loop cords rather than tightening them.
Insert the end of the cord around the horizontal portions of the cord. Keep fingers separated so that cords can slide through. Allow cords to be more loose than tight.
Slide the cord off gently from your hand. You want to keep the loops intact, so be careful not to disrupt them.
Pull each end of the cord until a knot forms. Tighten any loose cord loops by pulling them until the knot forms. Work the cords on the knot to form the Chinese frog button. The loose ends can be cut to complete the button, or they can be used to fashion the frog fasteners on your garment.
Use ¼-inch cord for dressing garments and thicker cord to make larger buttons for exterior wear, for example, for jackets and coats.