Sunday, 29 July 2012

Upcycling Vintage: Part 2 Buttons

Following our upcycling vintage handkerchiefs post, here is part two on vintage buttons.  We have an enormous tin of vintage buttons right from the 1920s (and before we think) to the 1980s, and we just know there are a million and one uses for these buttons.

Essential supplies for upcycling buttons could include scissors, needle, thread, E6000 glue, jewellery settings, fabric scraps.... and of course buttons.  But there really is no limit on what you can create with buttons so the supply list could be endless too.

Bobby Pins

One  of the classic uses of vintage buttons is bobby pins, they lend themselves really well to this sort of thing.  A flat backed button is easy to attach to a bobby pin with a setting, or a fabric backed button can be glued and stitched in place.

We have shown these images before but have included to demonstrate the idea.


This can range from earrings on simple stud settings to dangly earrings, to necklaces and bracelets, and from rings to broaches.

Handmade broach.  The petals of this broach are made from scraps of vintage fabric which have been sealed at the
edges by burning them gently with a flame, the while thing is held together with 7 buttons dating from the 1950s to the 1970s.

We have made a several items from buttons and have always found that although the construction process is vitally important in terms of quality and durability (and comfort to the wearer to an extent), the most important thing is choosing the right buttons.  Too classic a button and it looks like you have a board game counter stuck to your ear, it is worth taking some time to choose a really unique vintage button for this sort of project.


I simply would not have the time, nor inclination (nor talent) to make one of these but you can get some absolutely amazing examples of button bouquets on Etsy.

ButtonFlowers Custom Wedding Bouquet- made to order in whatever colours you choose.
This is an amazing example from "ButtonFlowers" by Celia Barbieri, she makes custom bridal bouquets as well bouquets for home decor.   The difference with her bouquets is that the buttons are handmade ceramic buttons rather than vintage upcycled buttons, but they could just as easily be vintage buttons.

As Buttons...

Sounds obvious but upcycling doesn't have to be different from its original purpose, you can simply use buttons, as buttons.  If you change the buttons on a coat of a shirt dress from those original intended to something completely different it can really freshen it up, or give it a whole new look.  

This is a dress I never wore because it was quite plain with matching blue buttons, simply by changing these
to contrast 1980s buttons the whole look of the dress changes- and who knows it may getting an outing at
last rather than sitting in my wardrobe all year.
This blue and white shirt dress had matching white buttons and was a bit plain and ordinary I felt, however I swapped them round for contrasting red buttons and the whole look of the dress changed.  Less than 10 minutes work and next to nothing in cost (I had the buttons) and I had a whole new dress waiting for me!

Other Ideas

There is no end to the things you can do with buttons.  Making decorations is a another really cute idea, magnets for the fridge, create button collages for your wall, thumb tacks for a pin board, or even as a decorated coasters.  So the rule is never throw a button out you just never know when it may come in handy... and that is probably why you'll find most people of older generations had button boxes.

As I said previously some of these ideas you may find in our new shop (new launch date to be post Susannah's baby we think... although we may launch with a smaller selection of what is ready before that so keep looking!


Thank you so much for your comments, it is very much appreciated. we read each and every one of them. x