Cute as a Button … or Even Cuter

Summer is in full swing, and I can't help but notice the charming women's sewing patterns designed for this hot weather season. These simpler styles rely on classic lines and a less fussy construction. It's easy to picture these dresses in soft, unprinted linens.

This is where my buttons live.
These Debbie Mumm buttons upped 
the cute quotient on this baby sweater.
Sometimes the ideas start with the buttons.

Even though the simplicity of these dresses intrigues me, the one place I would add a little bit of splash is with the buttons.

When I first started sewing, I bought the buttons at the same time I bought the fabric–holding up an edge of the yardage to get a good color match.

Then I switched to completing the garment and taking it to the store to see what buttons complemented it. The buttons that looked good against a flat edge of fabric weren't always the best choice when the dress or blouse had become dimensional. The pattern may have called for seven ½" buttons, but when taking into account everything about the fit and style, five ¾" buttons may have been the better choice.

These days, I'm working from another system–and this method does have a little edge of danger attached to it. Now I buy buttons that I love and display them in my studio. I'm fairly confident that when I finish a project, the perfect buttons will already be at hand. The danger? I now have a lot of buttons! (But, not too many…) I pick them up on travels, at estate sales, and at my local fabric store.  

I like my little button board–and I since I do use these buttons, the inspiration this board provides constantly changes.

So now I just have to find the perfect dress pattern to go with those Roman coin buttons that I found at the Kane County Flea Market.

If you're looking for inspiration for making the perfect bag, check out the new Stitch Workshop How to Sew a Bag that's Sturdy + Stylish with Linda Lee.

My buttons are currently on a bulletin board–although I do have a Mason jar as well. How do you keep track of your buttons? Jar? Bowl? Board? We'd love to know.

Happy stitching,



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20 thoughts on “Cute as a Button … or Even Cuter

  1. The board is a 12″ square of fairly dense foam. I’ve had it for a long time, so I don’t really remember where I bought it, but probably someplace like Target or the Container Store (or possibly Home Depot). Check out the sections that would have bulletin boards. On the back are large grommets, and I use 3M Command hooks to hang it. I like the foam because it’s so easy to just use pins to slide the buttons on and off. And I do use the buttons that I have because I remember what I have on hand!

  2. Thank you for explaining your button board. Is this foam a soft type of foam or more like a foam core board type stuff? Is it covered or is that the color of the foam? I have some vintage buttons I would love to display this way. Thank you!

  3. I keep my buttons in a container with several small drawers, which I bought from the tool department . It’s use may have been intended for small screws, nails etc. I find it very useful because I can separate the colors, and each drawer has little dividers to insert if you have different sizes in the same color. The container is about 12 inches high by 8 inches wide by 4 inches deep. There are bigger versions of the container which I do have for my beads.

  4. It’s definitely a soft foam–sort of like a firm upholstery foam. The front is covered with a knit type of fabric covering, but the backing is a more rigid foam (so it stays flat against the wall). Good luck!

  5. I got $500 worth of buttons for $50 at an estate sale several years ago. As I sat on the floor sorting them, tears came to my eyes as I remembered as a little girl and home sick from school I got to play with my Mother’s button box and her hankies.
    I still have those buttons now in a slide tray box that was Daddy’s.
    I have the larger collection sorted by color in shoe boxes and then those in a larger box. I still love to sit on the floor to play with them.
    I cross stitched an alphabet picture for grandson and then found a button for each letter to go on the sample which I then shadowbox framed it all. Fun to do when you have so many buttons to play with.
    Susan M

  6. My husband and I love, love, love buttons, and have them displayed in all different kinds of jars! Mostly they’re separated by color, but we also have jars of “a little bit of everything!”
    A great way to use them, and these make wonderful inexpensive gifts, is to take a picture frame and glue buttons on the frame, layering them! They can be as fancy or as practical as you want them to be, and people love getting them. All it takes is a frame, buttons, and Elmer’s Glue!

  7. A few years ago I had a little extra money so went crazy on e-bay buying buttons by the pound. I ended up with almost 40 pounds…they are in LOTS of jars, mostly sorted by color. (The kids helped sort, it gave us a great way to spend a few hours of our dark Alaskan winter!) I do use them though, I make quilted greeting cards to sell, ( but it will take awhile to make much of a dent 🙂 Buttons are so much fun! Maybe I should go look for a button project for today… 🙂

  8. I quarter-fold a letter size sheet of paper and sew my vintage buttons on the inside by category, newly found buttons are added until the sheets are filled. They go in boxes I can flip through, pull out to look at side-by-side, or put up on a board. Protects them from self-wear and makes everything accessible. Pencil notes keep track of details – found collections I want to keep together, sources, materials. Soon your eye remembers each sheet like a painting & you’re prepared for inspiration!

  9. i have all of mine on display in vintage milk bottles. They are all sorted by color. not only is it a great pop of color in my studio, but also great when i need just a particular color.

  10. I love your button board. Out there in the open to give you incentive. It is similar to the big clear glass bubble/bowl I used to keep my ribbons in. That lovely jumble of colors inspired a number of things, but when I moved, I sold it at a yard sale. What was I thinking? My buttons are in a big tin, some on cards, some loose. I do have old mother-of-pearl buttons stored separately. There are some that are flower-like that I know were on a dress I had when I was a baby. Funny how we are sentimental about buttons.

  11. I love the button wall… Mine are stored in a Baggie and a box of drawers, never seen unless I’m scrambling looking for that button… Something to do this summer…

  12. I have been collecting buttons for over 50 years. I became fascinated with buttons as a teenager when I started making my own cloths. I collected them from flea markets, thrift sores, old cloths and members of the family who quit sewing or passed away. I may never use them all but i love going through them. I currently have 2 large popcorn tins full all are divided into colors and matched in little plastic bags.

  13. Love the button board idea but, have no space in my studio 🙁 My buttons are separated by color in baggies and stored in a giant decorative box. I always buy buttons on sale if there are at least 5 to purchase. Nothing worse than having the perfect button but, not as many as needed! I blog about my sewing adventures at

  14. I have my grandmothers(1887-1962) box of buttons and my mothers(1914-2013) jars, tins, and bags of buttons. Grannie Peele was a seamstress, Mama loved any form of stitchery and I inherited their true loves as well as their treasures. Thank you for a fantastic idea for showcasing a true collectable treasure.

  15. I have my grandmothers(1887-1962) box of buttons and my mothers(1914-2013) jars, tins, and bags of buttons. Grannie Peele was a seamstress, Mama loved any form of stitchery and I inherited their true loves as well as their treasures. Thank you for a fantastic idea for showcasing a true collectable treasure.

  16. I love love love buttons…..all kinds of buttons! And, I have been collecting them since I was a teenager. My mother was a seamstress and made clothing practically everyday…so there were buttons everywhere.
    My solution to keeping my buttons organized and sorted is to use plastic bead containers with muliple compartments, I found in the craft department at Walmarts. They work great and are really convenient to use, just flip open the lid and wala….pick what you need!
    I have all my buttons sorted by color, style and size. I don’t sew clothing very much or often, I am a crafter/quilter and use buttons in various ways to embellish my projects. Its almost painful to sew them down to a project because I want to keep them in my collection but…..the nice thing is “I can always get more buttons”!
    I really like the display board idea and plan to make a small one to showcase my favorite buttons for my sewing room, thanks for a really great tip.
    Susan B.

  17. I have been collecting buttons for a long long time and I too used to play with my mothers buttons when I was a little girl. I love buttons and I have them stored in all kinds of jars, mason jars of all sizes, even a few old wine carafe bottles, and an over sized flower vase, and a few storage boxes. I try to keep them sorted by color and of course I just love those little novelty buttons and I grab them up whenever I see something new and fun.

  18. I have plenty of buttons: my mother’s and grandmother’s original button boxes full and buttons I’ve bought for sewing projects as well as others I’ve picked up just cuz they’re neat.
    Mine are put away in containers tho some special ones are in an old glass covered sugar bowl in my sewing room.
    I just read a neat idea for keeping our buttons under rein: use the Glad Press ‘n’ Seal wrap. Lay out a sheet twice the size desired in a horizontal position. Lay the buttons out in rows on one half of the sheet and carefully bring the other side up and over the first half, covering the buttons and sealing them in place. Supposedly there will be no sticky residue on the buttons.
    Since the outside of the wrap is not sticky, these sheets of buttons can be slid into plastic page covers and stored in 3-ring binders if desired.
    When you want to remove a button, simply snip near it, lift the wrap and remove the button. You can replace one after it’s been removed by covering it with a small square of fresh Press ‘n’ Seal.
    I haven’t tried this yet but it sounds slick. Could be used for storing/organizing alot of different unwieldy items.