In Praise of Buttons

by Erin on April 20, 2010


pink buttons

Aren't those gorgeous? I have been thinking a LOT about buttons lately. I mean, more than usual (and far more than "normal" people).

Some of my thoughts:

– I want a big circle skirt, black, where the hem is a four-inch border of grey mother-of-pearl buttons, in a bunch of different sizes. Bonus points if I can lay them out so that they seem to swirl …

– Or, ooh, how about a shirtdress with a button print, with the "buttons" in vertical stripes down the fabric, maybe 5/8" wide, spaced an inch or so apart? This would be lovely in black and white, or red and white, or white with multicolor.

– I want a black t-shirt with a big white four-hole button printed on the front. Ditto a tote bag.

– More fabric, this time with a huge four-hole button print. By "huge" I mean buttons that are orange-sized. Black with white or red buttons, or black with mostly white buttons and a red button every so often for "pop". (For a Heidi dress, naturally.)

In the meantime, I will just look at these buttons some more (from the blog Vintage and Modern Unite):


pink buttons

What are your buttony thoughts?

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Darci April 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

Just be careful not to put non-flat buttons on the back of the skirt where your body would touch the chair. I didnt even THINK about that when I used up my button stash as a 6 border on a skirt. I had itty-bitty button indentations on the backs of my legs and OUCH, they hurt!Cute ideas, tho!

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marceline April 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

Im obsessed with drawing buttons. Ive made a load of vintage button fabrics and even got some SHOES made with the same design. Obviously, they are amazing :)my fabrics are here if youd like to see:http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/marcelinesmith

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Babett April 20, 2010 at 11:19 am

As long as you dont have Koumpounophobia:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQC0QVXa33oThe black circle skirt sounds amazing!

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Val April 20, 2010 at 11:22 am

I just used a couple of buttons from Grandmas old button box on a new dress….check out my blog tonight to see it!

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Tasia April 20, 2010 at 11:32 am

I love buttons too! We have this great store in Vancouver called Button Button, where I picked out a bunch of lovely vintage buttons – heart shapes, flowers and star/flower hybrids. (Its on my blog if you want to check it out..)Now Im planning projects around the buttons…Love your ideas, if I see a button print fabric now I know who to tell.

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kathy April 20, 2010 at 11:45 am

I love the circle skirt idea! That sounds fabulous!

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Jana April 20, 2010 at 11:45 am

I adore buttons …..and there are usually small so they make a great collectible! Jana

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Ashley April 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Erin, Im right there with ya. I have had nothing but buttons on my mind lately. I have been searching like mad for the perfect size and shade of red button to go on my dying-to-be-finished navy blue 1940s dress. You wouldnt think itd be that hard to find, but it is out here in the sticks. I finally found what I wanted on Etsy, from a seller in Israel, so now I have to wait forever to get them! Im in BUTTON LIMBO AND ITS KILLING ME!

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Erin April 20, 2010 at 12:43 pm

LOVE the skirt idea (and will probably pirate it some day). I had the hardest time finding any inspiring buttons for a bright pink dress I just made from a 1968 pattern. Just nothing inspiring. Nothing. :(

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Jesse April 20, 2010 at 12:56 pm

You start talking about big buttons, and all I can think of is this really big button!

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Gertie April 20, 2010 at 1:20 pm

BJ has a couple cute button prints right now. Heres one, in a chic black and white:http://www.bandjfabrics.com/servlet/the-1968/cotton-lawn-print-black/Detail

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Karen Minturn Brown April 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Normal people dont think about buttons? What do they do with their time? Zippers are nowhere near as interesting.

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Miss Rayne April 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

In York, near where i live is Duttons for Buttons its Button Heaven seehttp://www.duttonsforbuttons.co.uk/and sigh…..

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Coconut Pie April 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Sorry for the long post but this is an amazing button story. My mom is 88 and she has a set of large mother of pearl buttons shaped like lozenges that she paid 5 cents a piece for during the Depression. She remembers that her dad had a fit that shed spend so much money on them. Shes moved them from one garment to another all these years. For a while they were on one of my dresses. When that sad day comes and I inherit them, Ill keep them in use.

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Coconut Pie April 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Oh, and I do know that apiece is one word. Sorry!

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Coconut Pie April 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Oh, and I do know that apiece is one word. Sorry!

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x x x x Sarah April 20, 2010 at 6:35 pm
Mischka April 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Ah, buttons… My favourite necklace is made of buttons. Its short, has black, grey red buttons, in different sizes, and a fabulous black bird shaped button. Every time I wear it strangers comment. http://ny-image2.etsy.com/il_430xN.71241094.jpg

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Madelaine April 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Youre making me want to get my silkscreen out! Though I did a drypoint print of buttons last year, and theres nothing like drawing a couple hundred buttons on plastic with a needle to make you a little iffy on them…

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Gracie April 21, 2010 at 2:52 am

Miss Rayne, Ive just been on the Duttonsforbuttons website – and I WANT buttons! Youre very lucky to live near them, I imagine spending hours in that shop!

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Aldara April 21, 2010 at 3:40 am

Oooh, I love buttons! I got to visit my grandma and aunt last month and go through their button stashes. They let me take all the buttons I liked! I also bought some really cute buttons (with circular stripes) at the Holland Fabric Market.Ive been planning a sailor-style short skirt with buttons down the pockets, a black sheath dress with big white buttons and a tote bag with all kinds of different buttons…

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brocadegoddess April 21, 2010 at 8:28 am

Oooh, I L-O-V-E the m.o.p. button border idea! I think I might have to steal…uh….borrow it.

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lucitebox April 21, 2010 at 11:06 am

I share your enthusiasm for buttons. And right now, I just want these cookies: http://bit.ly/7cungZI just photographed a vintage 60s dress and jacket for lucitebox.com with a huge (really chunky) gray button with yellow ridges on it. Its a designer suit thats got a sculptural, shapely jacket thats worth the button alone.

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bakertoo April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

I love buttons also. Duttons for Buttons in England, as well as The Button Queen in London, are real experiences not to be missed if you are a sewer or knitter, and are visiting nearby! In Washington State, where I live, we have the Washington Button Society, and they have regular meetings, with lectures about certain types of buttons, and amazing sales of the button collections of the members. I have bought some amazing buttons from them-I really love big buttons, and bakelite buttons( I guess I could go on and on about all the buttons I love…), and have been planning for years it seems like(!) to mount them in a frame to hang in my small sewing room. Are there other states out there with button collector societies? How about great buttons stores where you all live? I could use a good list of great button stores to visit in different cities. But the funniest thing about all these buttons is that I dont like sewing on buttons! Luckily, my machine will do it for me if I get them lined up correctly!

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Alison Cummins April 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm

This dress has snaps, not buttons, but I thought of you as soon as I saw it.

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Alison Cummins April 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm

This dress has snaps, not buttons, but I thought of you as soon as I saw it.http://makeshiftproject.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-232.html

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purplestevie April 22, 2010 at 3:34 am

Hi Miss Rayne, i too love to vist duttons for buttons in Harrogate, last time i was there i purchased some lovely carved mop buttons.Oh and before i forget i founded the vintage modern unite blog, it a multi user blog for all online sellers of vintage and modern clothes, sewing items, jewellery, perfume, gardening,homeware, Metaphyical, soap, candles etc etcif you want to become an author just email vinmodunite@btinternet.com or why not follow the blog.Thanks Erin for mentioning my blog very kind of you..

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bani April 22, 2010 at 6:10 am

Lucitebox – thems some cookies! :O

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x vInTaGe VioLeT x April 22, 2010 at 7:25 am

oooh those are my buttons!thanks for featuring them on your post :0) oh and if you like buttons and vintage haberdashery be sure to check out my blog maximumRABBITdesigns i also have a tutorial for stamping your own button patterns :o)

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R.M. Koske April 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

The skirt idea sounds divine, absolutely wonderful.When I was a young teen I hit on the idea of dressing up as a Pearly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearly_Kings_and_Queens) for Halloween.* Unfortunately I didnt allow for the time to sew on all the dratted things, and couldnt even get it close to ready in the two weeks between having the idea and Halloween night. So disappointing!My ambition currently is to cover the cuffs on a nice white shirt with them. Either pearl buttons or red. That it is still only an ambition tells you what my sewing has been like lately. *grin**I still dress up now, so it wasnt that odd I was doing it then.

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R.M. Koske April 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

Sorry for two in a row, but I just had a fun idea…That skirt will take ages and ages to finish (or maybe Im just still scarred from my Halloween experience). I wonder if it would be possible to sew them on in such a way that you could wear it the entire time it was in progress? Scatter them artistically so that you can wear it with only ten or twenty, and with fifty, and with more until the skirt is done.Such ideas you give me, my head is spinning.

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Sarah May 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I have boxes and boxes of buttons, including quite a lot of shell (pearl) buttons. I have thought about doing a pearly jacket, maybe a jeans jacket with buttons all over the yoke. Now that I have short hair it might even be a safe thing to wear! It would be heavy, though. Must remember to put some padding under the shoulders.I also have a lot of dull brown and black buttons, which I wish I knew a way to turn into interesting colors. Is there such a thing as paint that really sticks to buttons?

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