Really Beautiful, Or Really Useful


Buttons are my weakness. We all have one. Objects can be beautiful as well as useful, and buttons definitely fall into this category.

Still. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a use for that single, clay, dog-shaped button. The more you sew, the more you realise that buttons are button-shaped for a reason. There’s no reason to buy novelty buttons. It just doesn’t make sense. Which is why I’ll probably never stop buying novelty buttons.


I do try to be good, too. I’ll stock up on stacks of matching, boring buttons that will be perfect for my next make. And they really are perfect. Just not quite as perfect as little red vintage sailing boats.


Do you have a sewing weakness? The objects that make your heart sing and your practical side sigh?

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29 Responses to Really Beautiful, Or Really Useful

  1. sewchet says:

    I was recently gifted a button box and, although I’ll never live long enough to use them all, they make me smile every time I rummage through them:)

  2. Martha Reed says:

    I sometimes use a series of fun single buttons on an otherwise simple garment to liven it up. Or use it on a hat or bag. The boats are fabulous!

  3. Allison says:

    OMG!! You are preaching to the choir here!!! I LOVE unusual buttons. I try to incorporate them into my projects rather than the “boring” ones. I like to do shirts where the buttons are all different or replace the buttons on a store bought sweater. They always give the project that little OOMPH! I also like to use the odd ones that don’t have matches in jewelry or my papercrafts-they make nice embellishments on my paper pinwheel wreaths!

  4. I too have an affinity for buttons. I hope some day to inherit the family “button jar” which I guess in some sewing families is actually a box 🙂 A lovely conversation was sparked (with the sweetest little lady this side of the Mississippi) while I was browsing her antique selection at a local fair, all over a button jar. However, I think my real weakness lies in vintage patterns, Oh the artwork & the details *swoon*

  5. Becky says:

    I love buttons. I have several “vintage” jars of buttons from grandmothers, mothers, etc. But those boats! I love those boats! Like Allison, I love a shirt with mismatched buttons.

  6. Arletta says:

    I must admit, I do not ever sew. But I knit. Always and everywhere. I usually buy the buttons first and then plan my knitwork around the new buttons. Never vice versa. First always comes the buttons. I don’t care if they are useful or not, it’s their beauty that counts! Yes, I do love buttons!

  7. I’m a sucker for vintage buttons too. I like interesting details and shapes, and those buckle and button cards are a particular favorite of mine. I particularly like the plastic buttons of the 30s and 40s. I have a small shoe box full of buttons, sorry to say. I used to use them a lot on my projects, but as my style has grown less fussy, I find I have little tolerance for decorative buttons on my clothing. I keep them, however, as a small beautiful thing, and perhaps one day I will use them again. (They are also handy for knitting projects)

  8. Linds says:

    I also love buttons. I have my mother’s button box and enjoy rummaging through it. And I passed my love along to my daughter. At the age of 3 she selected yellow gingham fabric and red heart-shaped buttons for a dress that Grandmom made. I will incorporate the odd novelty button into a quilted piece or clay craft object.

  9. One of the most enjoyable things I did as a child was sorting through my mothers button box, (It was actually an old cookie tin). We even had a store near us for a while called The Button Box. I was such a strange kid, because I had more fun there then I would have in a candy store (LOL).

  10. I love buttons, especially now I like making buttonholes! I’ve also used mismatched buttons as a design feature. I never have the right ones for the next job though…back t the market!

  11. PsychicKathleen says:

    I’m nervous about wandering too FAR down that road because I easily could especially when I see a garment someone has made and it has the PERFECT buttons. I’m challenged enough keeping my patterns and stash under some semblance of control but if I fully indulged my button temptations I would probably have to move 🙂

  12. Buttons! Always a good purchase. Old ones, new ones, plain ones, fancy ones….little sailboats and even dogs! Perhaps little Ella needs one on a neck scarf?

  13. Jen (NY) says:

    Well, you can always frame them in shadow boxes and hang them on the wall. It’s something I’ve thought about doing with some of my smaller unusable collections of things. I think frames of carded vintage buttons would look cute. I do have a few jars of buttons myself, mostly odd ones, but a few cards of vintages ones that I’ve not figured out how to use and may end up framed eventually (especially a set of green plastic bows that I fear will become too brittle).

    Further on the topic of buttons…my grandmother had an alterations business and a byproduct was the random leftover or removed button. She used to let my cousins and I make button bracelets out of them (basically, buttons on a double strand of thread). I only have a few of those buttons now, but they are among my favorites…a black metal hand painted with flowers, a golden dome covered with a golden filigree, and also pink ball buttons I remember from a housecoat/robe she made me when I was about 4. I should probably get all of those framed somehow before they disappear!

  14. Mertxe says:

    What a wonderful hobby we all have, girls! It is an endless well of entertainment, beauty and joy! An art, really…I fall for luxury fabrics in natural fibres: cotton, wool, silk

  15. Candie from Alaska says:

    My weakness? Beautiful scissors ✂️ . I just cannot stop myself. When someone posts a make, I write and comment on the scissors in the picture. I have too many and wonder if whoever comes after me will appreciate my collection or should I pass them along myself? It doesn’t stop me though…

    Buttons. Between receiving both of my grandmother’s collections (and they theirs) I have thousands some probably over a hundred years old. I love them and love to use them on my makes.

  16. Deborah says:

    I have twelve vintage sewing machines and have my eye on two more. In the future I will only be able to get machines without cabinets as they are taking over the house.

  17. It is my thankless task to keep stocked about three square metres of button tubes, about 1,200 varieties. I know, it’s tough! Also, a shop can literally bankrupt themselves over buttons so one has to be sensible. We stock very few odd shaped buttons because it’s true – buttons are button shaped for a reason. However, I have been known to, and have demoed to others how to, stack buttons. although they really need to be sew through for that. But an adorable, oddly shaped novelty button on top of a slightly larger sensible round one is far more functional than the novelty alone.
    The tough part is reminding doting knitters that the person doing up the baby’s cardigan is trying to do so with big fingers on a perpetually squirming, wriggling baby. This is not the time for tiny cutesie buttons!

    • Fraggle says:

      Definitely, I had to change a lot of teddy bear buttons to make the handmade cardis useable!
      Buttons don’t work for me, but thread? Wow, that’s a different question… Spent about £60 in the half price sale at the local hobbycraft! So pretty!

    • Jen (NY) says:

      Very good points! I suppose the novelty ones are fine for things like faux pocket flaps, but you probably wouldn’t want those on baby clothes.

    • Katie M says:

      Stacking buttons – what a fabulous suggestion. I’d never thought of that. I bought my daughter the most beautiful hand knitted cardigan at a craft market, and the buttons were star shaped. There were such a pain to do up, but I persisted because they looked so wonderful.

      • I put some rabbit-shaped buttons on my son’s handknitted jumper when he was little (too cute to resist) and didn’t think about whether or not they’d be easy to undo. As a matter of fact, they weren’t, and I intuited as much from the fact that they’d come off some article of clothing that I’d worn as a child. (I know. Kidneys, right?!) But then again, they didn’t really need undoing because the jumper pulled over his head quite easily 🙂

  18. twotoast says:

    Years ago there was a company in the U.K. called ‘Peapods to Zebras’ and they sold fabulous buttons. And yes, thank-you for asking, I do have some peapod buttons!

  19. belindajean says:

    I buy fabric … because I need to, because I can, because I fall in love with it….. and sometimes, just to dream about what it could become….. buttons come later…..

  20. esewing says:

    Thank you for sharing your buttons, there is something very soothing about sorting through a button jar or tin, they make great sound on being rummaged too!

  21. Buttons…love them. I’ve been finding a lot of vintage buttons in charity shops lately and I just can’t resist!

  22. ellegeemakes says:

    I collect Pom Pom fringe. If I see it I buy it! It’s amazing how the perfect Pom Pom can elevate my mood:)

  23. Katie M says:

    There is the most wonderful shop in Hampstead that sells vintage buttons. Every time I was making something I would wander down there and rummage through loads of random buttons. I found the most gorgeous red bakelite buttons for a shirt I made one time. Beautiful buttons really help your make go from great to fabulous.

  24. I have far too many sins to air in public! LOL. But buttons, now, well, I’ve inherited the family button box, a beautiful japanned one that was my grandmother’s and then my mother’s and I have a couple of my own…. I recently had to throw out some badly water-damaged clothing and I couldn’t tell you – although you’d probably understand – how it broke my heart to toss the buttons with the garments. In the normal run of things, if something gets sent to the rubbish or rag bin, I cut off all the buttons. In this case, I couldn’t. They were all fairly ordinary – although I didn’t look too closely, in case they weren’t – but they were buttons; good, lovely, useful buttons 🙁

  25. Jo says:

    Yeah! Buttons. I just finished a crochet cowl on which I added at border of 66 tiny white buttons from my stash jar and random beads from my collection. God, that felt good. Jo x

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