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Button Applications

Updated: Apr 22

Buttons come in all shapes and sizes and are made in a wide variety of materials. Plastic, metal, leather, mother of pearl, glass, bone and ivory to name a few.

Buttons can serve a practical as well as a decorative purpose. Have you ever wondered what to do with all those buttons in that vintage tin that you have collected over the years? They can be used as clothing fasteners, fashion accessories, in arts and crafts, for decorative purposes and to make jewelry and wearable art.


Art – wall art, button murals, button collages.

Home Decor – on pillows, tables and boxes.

Clothing – on vests, shirts, jackets, coats and bridal wear.

Accessories – on clutch bags, tote bags, belts, scarves and hair accessories.

Jewelry – bracelets, brooches, necklaces, earrings and bridal accessories.

Using buttons to decorate gives us the ability to create beautiful jewelry, visual and wearable art.

Sourcing Buttons

As far back as I can remember there was always a button tin at home. It was full of all the single and unused buttons. Every time a torn piece of clothing was sent of to the rag bag the buttons were removed and placed in the tin. Button tins can be found at second hand and charity stores.

Vintage buttons can also be purchased online at Ebay and Etsy. Buttons can be cleaned in a mild soap and water solution, rinsed off, and dried laid flat down on a towel.

There are many styles of buttons. 2 hole, 4 hole, flat, shank, tunnel, toggle, frog, fabric, domed and metal. The button sizes depend on how they are going to be used. Shirt buttons are smaller and coat buttons are larger. Buttons are measured in lignes or lines and abbreviated L.

Buttons are made from many different materials. Plastic, mother of pearl, ivory, wood, bone, leather, glass, bakelite and metal. All of them can be used for different styles of art and decoration.

Organizing and Storing Your Button Collection

Buttons can be stored according to size, type or color. Plastic containers are my containers of choice. Reused plastic soft drink bottles or plastic peanut butter bottles with a wider rim, for smaller collections on wooden shelving is practical as well as pleasing to the eye. I sort my smaller buttons according to color.

Larger buttons are sorted by type, leather, glass, mother of pearl, wood, metal and fabric. These buttons are stored in flat plastic boxes and a few buttons are taped on the front so that I know what is in that box.

Button jewelry tutorials pdf and video - can be found here on Etsy

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