Loop closures are wonderful on clothes as they are easy to use and form a decorative feature. There are many different types of loop closures and once you get the basics down you can get creative on how you use them.
Frog closures (or chinese frogs) are used most commonly on dresses and jackets. Frog closures are particularly decorative and are meant to stand out. On oriental dresses and tops with mandarin collars frogs are often used at the shoulder and down the front. When I was in my teens, oriental dresses with frog closures were the rage. Oh how I wanted one! Now I know how to make them, its just such a shame they no long seem to be the height of fashion.
This tutorial will focus on how to make frog closures for your garments and accessories. Get ready to start making that perfect military jacket or oriental inspired blouse!
But first, a frog closure is made up of the frog itself and a Chinese ball. You can imagine the Chinese ball as the button, whilst the frog itself makes the buttonhole. Depending upon your design, you may be able to substitute the Chinese ball with a button; if you can’t, never fear as I will teach you how to make one too.
Adjusting your Pattern
If your pattern has been designed with an overlap for buttonholes you are going to have to do a slight alteration. A traditional frog closure will have your two sides meeting perfectly together, such as at the centre front or centre back.
In the case of a centre front or centre back opening, you simply fold the pattern (the pattern piece that has the buttonholes on) towards the side seam along the centre line and fold it back to the centre along the stitching line. Make the same alteration to the lining. You generally don’t have to alter the button side of the pattern.
If you need to adjust pattern where the placement is on another part of the garment, draw a vertical line on the pattern across the buttonholes, 2mm from its inner end to mark the new finished edge.
A traditional Chinese ball which is made out of the same fabric as the frog tie.
Pin one end of the cord or rouleau down to a piece of paper or fabric.
Loop the cord once as shown below. The size of the loop is up to you.
Loop the cord a second time, going under the end that is pinned down.
If you are using fabric rouleau keep the seam downwards to prevent the seam showing.
Loop the cord a third time weaving it through the previous two loops as shown.
Keep the loops open while you work and make sure the cord or rouleau does not become twisted.
Unpin the end and pull up all the loops, easing and shaping them as you go to form a tight ball.
Either trim away the excess ends and stitch them down, or leave them long so you can form a frog.
It takes a bit of practice to make the Chinese balls.
1. Lap the garment edges so that either the centre fronts match or the garment edges match (depending on the pattern instructions or the effect that you want).
2. Position the toggle or ball part of the frog closure on the left hand side of the garment and the loop part on the right hand side, so that they close directly over the center front. For men clothes the toggle will be on the right and the loop on the left. Hold the closures in place with pins, double-sided basting tape or glue stick.
3. Machine stitch or hand baste in to place.
To Make a Frog Closure
Draw your design for the frog on a piece of paper or card.
I used paper as that was all I hand on hand but card is better as it holds the pins better.
I like a four-leaf clover pattern and used the end of an old thread holder to make my template.
Pin the paper template to a pin cushion.
Place the pins as shown in the photo.
Place the end of the cord at the at the bottom of the design leaving about 6 cm extra at the end. Pin it in place.
The frog is made right side facing down, keep this in mind as you are making it. You are looking at the back of the frog (or the part that ends up against the garment).
Make the first loop of the frog closure by going to the right of the centre pin then bending around to the right most pin and forming a loop. Try to match the circle you have used on the template.
Using a matching thread, stitch a few stitches to keep the loop in place.
Remember to not let the stitching show at the front (the part facing the card or paper).
Form the second loop by going around the top pin and pin to the paper/card. Again try to follow the circle you have drawn on the template.
Go around the right hand side of the centre pin as you cross the centre at the end of the loop. Stitch the end to the first loop on the wrong side.
Form the third loop by going around the left pin and stitch the cords together securely at the point they cross.
The stitches should not show on the right side.
Cut the tail off the cord from the third loop once you stitched the loops together.
Using the start of the cord form the fourth and last loop. I make this loop smaller than the other three but it’s really up to you.
Stitch the end to the centre of the frog on the wrong side (the side facing you).
Remove the frog from the paper.
This is your finished frog!
For the button frog or the frog with the Chinese ball on;
Make the Chinese ball first, leaving the cords on the ball so you can make the frog.
Mark out your template. Place the ball just below the bottom pin on the template and follow the instructions above.
There are so many alternates that you can use for your frog closures. Here is another pretty frog that’s easy to make (pictures only):