Decorating with buttons | April 23, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - April 23, 2010

Decorating with buttons

Embellish a blouse, make jewelry or dress up your pet

by Kit Davey

There's something about buttons. I can't get enough of them. When I see a jar of them at a garage sale I am compelled to buy the whole jar. This is not really a problem, because someday I will use all of them.

In my quest to use every last one, I have found many ways to use buttons in projects around my home. Why not fish out your old jar and try one of these ideas?

Fill a bowl. This is an easy one. A bowl or box of buttons on your coffee table can entertain your guests and be a fun conversation piece. Use a bowl or box that harmonizes with the color or texture of your buttons.

For example, fill a black-and-white patterned dish with your black-and-white buttons or collect all your yellow, red and blue buttons and arrange them in a green bowl. Mound your tortoise shell-like buttons in an earth-toned dish, or dump all your wood and leather buttons into a small wooden box.

Dress up your pet. Your fashion-forward feline will look tres chic with pearl, glass and gold buttons adorning her collar. A rough- and-tumble pup might appreciate having his red collar punctuated with flat black buttons. (Caution: Keep your pet's collar loose! If your pet's collar gets snagged on something it should be able to slip over its head).

Adorn your jar o' buttons. A treasure-filled jar can make a useful bookend or paperweight for button pack rats. Use a large mayonnaise or peanut-butter jar and spray paint the lid gold or silver. Glue on a length of ribbon or lace around the lid and apply a handful of buttons to the top.

Include in a mosaic project. Broken tile isn't the only ingredient you might use in your next pique assiette (mosaic) project. Include old chess pieces, bubble-gum charms, broken mugs or figurines, and of course, your best buttons.

Create a Victorian heart ornament. Cut out a 2- to 3-inch-tall heart shape from thick mat board and poke a hole at the top. Layer and glue on your buttons, completely covering the front of the heart. Use gold twine or satin ribbon to hang from a dresser knob or lay on a stack of antique books.

Make an arithmetic aide for your child. If your child is still learning addition and subtraction basics, have him/her use buttons to count out the problems. Let your child pick out his/her favorite buttons from your collection and decorate a counting jar to store them in while doing homework.

Embellish a blouse. Do you have a boring white shirt that needs a little pizzazz? Snip off the original buttons and replace them with an assortment of brass, black or pearl buttons.

Keep your spouse from snoring. I have heard that if you sew several sturdy buttons with large shanks onto the back of your partner's pajamas that it will keep him/her from sleeping on his/her back, thus stopping the sawing of logs.

Decorate your hat. Sew buttons onto a baseball cap or a straw hat. The hat will look less cluttered if you use buttons of one color.

Make jewelry. Pins are a snap to make. Snip or saw off the shank of a large, ornate button. Use a glue gun to attach the button to a pin backing. You can make earrings the same way. Simply glue the buttons to posts (jewelry-making supplies are available at Michael's and other craft stores). Make a bracelet by threading thin elastic through the buttonholes and stacking the buttons together until you have enough to go around your wrist. Create a pattern by repeating colors and shapes.

Embellish a quilt. Stitch tiny buttons into the corners of each square, edge an image or cover an entire shape. (This is probably not a good thing to do to an inherited or antique quilt!)

Use as game markers. Buttons work well as substitute markers in backgammon and checkers.

Adorn a gift card. Cut a heart-shape from ivory-colored paper, write the recipient's name in calligraphy and sew a dainty little button onto the card. Punch a hole in the card and attach to the gift with satin ribbon.

Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, specializes in re-design, staging, design consulting and professional organizing. E-mail her at, call her at 650-367-7370, or visit her website at


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