Buttons are such a part of daily fashions it’s hard to imagine a time that they were only used as status symbols for ornamental purposes. They were originally made from wood, bone, brass, pewter, gold, or silver. Not only were they status symbols, but they were also used exclusively on men’s clothing. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the use of buttons transitioned to women’s clothing. Up to that time, women relied on hooks and lacings.
You may remember a time when it was common to cut the buttons off of old clothes to be used for another project later on. And if you, your mom, or grandmother sewed, no doubt there was a button box around to hold all the extra buttons for sewing or other crafts. You learned not to throw a button away; they could always be repurposed.
November 16 was designated by the National Button Society as Button Day years ago to commemorate collectors and crafters. Today, buttons are created from organic, natural materials, plastics, and polymers, as well as the original metals. You find them in any size, color, or shape imaginable. As far as crafting, let your imagination drive the creative ideas designed with buttons. To get a jumpstart on holiday crafting, consider a few of these suggestions.
Button Christmas Tree
Materials needed include a green Styrofoam cone, a variety of green buttons in different sizes, and color-headed pushpins or straight pins, adhesive green felt
- Make a circle using the Styrofoam base with the adhesive felt and secure it to the bottom of the cone.
- Beginning at the base, use one pushpin per button to cover the cone.Double stack with smaller buttons occasionally. Start with larger buttons at the base and mix the sizes and colors to create depth and the illusion of colored ornaments.
- Depending on the size cone selected, this could be a centerpiece, a desk tree, or an early Christmas gift.Make several sizes for a table forest of trees. Add gold or silver bead strings for garland. For a more elegant impact, design with a white cone and all white buttons using gold or silver color headed pins.
Monogram Letter Wall Hanging
Materials needed include a pattern of the letter, linen or fabric stretched over a frame, selection of buttons in shades of the desired color, matching embroidery thread, small accent colored buttons in brass or pearl, embroidery needle, scissors
- Using transfer paper, layout the letter shape onto the fabric.Steady hands may be able to lightly sketch the design onto the fabric.
- You can use an embroidery hoop if desired but for a large letter, an already stretch fabric frame may be easier to work with.
- Build the letter using your imagination with the button sizes and shades.Use the smaller accent buttons sparingly to jazz up the letter. For a child’s room, add a few character shapes depending on his or her interests (such as cars, butterflies, ladybugs, etc.). Be consistent on the way you sew the buttons on (i.e., crossover in the same direction each time just as you would when cross-stitching).
- Finish off with a frame suited to the room or leave as a canvas.
Other Suggestions for button crafts include:
- Christmas ornaments made using fiber covered balls, hot glue gun, and selection of buttons.You can also make them using Styrofoam balls and pushpins. Make them all one color or add in a small tree, snowman candy cane designed with tiny buttons.
- Make your own custom note cards with small flat button designs
- Add magnet backs for customized magnets
- Create a charm bracelet made with vintage buttons hung onto a sterling silver bracelet
- Create a unique button-rimmed picture frame or mirror
What else can you make with buttons? Basically, whatever you dream up, give it a try. Don’t throw away those buttons! There’s crafting to be done!