The button hoarder

I have a large glass jar filled to the top with buttons, most of them garnered from charity shops. Some of them are beautiful old Bakelite, glass or simply taken from yesterdays holey clothes. Occasionally, I have been blessed with someone’s old button tin. I don’t want to become a button hoarder, though I perhaps, already am one. I do use them sometimes, I promise.

I love rummaging around in the jar, imagining all the possibilities for these little treasures. A bit like a miser with coins I suppose! All sorts of wonderful things have been created using old buttons. I thought it might be nice to share a very simple necklace I made from some of my collection.

You can easily make one of these necklaces yourself. All you need is a supply of pretty buttons with reasonably  large holes so you can thread them with out too much difficulty.

I layered my buttons in stacks of three, a larger one in the middle and two smaller ones on the outsides so your necklace looks lovely which ever way it hangs. If you have buttons which look lovely from both sides you may not need to layer them, but I quite like the layered look.

Organise the buttons first so you can see how it will look when finished and lay them in a row in the order you want to thread them. To thread the buttons you could use cotton or silk cord, string or anything else you like that will fit through the button holes.

Measure how long you want your necklace and then add some extra length so that you will have enough length to tie a knot and remember that threading through the layered buttons will take up some of the length of the cord. I can’t tell you exactly how much extra length you will need, but remember you can always cut it shorter, but you can’t make it longer! Also, don’t forget that you will need to make it long enough to fit over your head unless you are clever enough to put a clasp on it, so measure generously.

When the necklace is complete, you can add a small dob of glue to the knot so it can’t come undone. I used PVA which dries clear.

This is the first “how to” I have written so my apologies if it is difficult to understand. I have included lots of photos so they will hopefully make things clearer!

Vintage button necklace

Vintage button necklace

Shell and glass vintage buttons

Vintage buttons

Lovely vintage clear button and red flower

Vintage buttons

Shell and clear buttons

Vintage buttons

The finished product


59 thoughts on “The button hoarder

  1. Hello, dear, gorgeous friend. Oh, your blog is so beautiful! I love buttons too, especially vintage ones. The button bracelet you made for me is one of my favourites. Love, love your artwork and photography. Am so proud of you!

    • Thank you, I’m glad you like them! I take them myself. I love styling the images, I wish I could do it for a job! My photography tip is to use natural light if you can. Picmonkey is a great free program you can use to crop,adjust images and apply text too. It’s very user friendly! I hope this is useful. 🙂

      • it is very, very useful. i have to use a professional photographer for my blog because i am inept. any bakelite buttons you can’t use…let me know. i love bakelite [you may have noticed…] and i am a sewer. it’s particularly lovely to combine vintage fabric and buttons with a contemporary pattern.

  2. What a lovely idea and it would go with so many outfits! Beautiful photos, wonderful ideas, reading your blogs helps me feel so creative … thankyou for inspiring me!! (P.S. They would make lovely Christmas presents …)

  3. Your love of buttons completely strikes a chord with me. One of my very favorite childhood memories is rummaging through my grandma’s little button drawer. My cousins and I always pulled out one of the giant brass and black buttons to play “Hide the Button” in Grandma’s living room. We always used the same button, that was the unspoken rule. I love vintage buttons. The necklace idea is such a fun way to get to play with the buttons! I’m now following your blog! : )

    • It’s amazing how many people have fond memories of Grandma’s buttons. Grandmas are so clever for realising that such a simple thing can amuse kids for ages(and adults too!). It really makes me hope I have grandchildren one day so they can play with my button collection. Thank you for following my blog. 🙂 I just read your beautiful interview post on your blog. You’re so right about it being hard to give individual undivided attention to kids. My seventeen year old son, doesn’t seem to want much individual attention from me right now! But my fourteen year old craves it. I really love to take him out for a milkshake just by himself. We get to chat a lot on the way to sport training too, which is nice.

  4. Hi Jennifer:
    I love this post and the elegance of layered buttons. Great idea for repurposing those extra buttons we all tend to collect. I’d love to reblog this at where I am a co-founder/writer. We’re a website dedicated to helping people reduce, reuse and upcycle what they have, rather than buying new and this lovely necklace tutorial would be perfect. With your permission, we’d love to highlight your post. We’d give proper attribution, credit, and links to your blog directly.
    Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Liesl at

    • Thanks for looking at my button post and liking it so much. I’ve left you a message on your blog. I really like your philosophy and would love you to reblog this post there. Thank you for asking! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Necklace Inspirations From The Button Hoarder « Trash Backwards

  6. Hi! It looks lovely and I am cursing/excited just a little because it gives me ANOTHER reason to hoard buttons! lol I noticed there seems to be no knots with each button cluster. Could you please tell me if you needed to put anything there to stop the buttons moving? Or did you just use the pva on the knot to tie the string together? Thanks again for doing the lovely photos!

    • Hello! The PVA is just on the knot holding the string together, there are no knots with each cluster. I think because the string goes in through the back of each cluster, over the front and then back out to the other side, it just seems to stay there. My string just fitted through the holes, it’s quite a firm fit.I hope this makes sense! Thank you for enjoying my post and good luck fellow button hoarder with your creations!

  7. Jen, visiting your blog is so soothing and such a treat. Lots of eye candy here! What I love about your blog is that your writing, photos and art are all your own work.

    I, too, save buttons. My old blouses never see a thrift shop. I take all the pretty bttons off and reuse them when I make my own blouses. The blouse fabric is sometimes used to make sachet pillows or little drawstring pouches.

    • Emily, such a lovely comment about my blog, thank you. I would love to see one day, some of the ways you have reused your buttons. I really have to start doing some more with all my collected things, I have an idea floating around that I would love to make some dolls. I’m feeling a little scattered today, frustrated with interruptions. I don’t seem to have enough time to make……..

  8. When I was a little girl and we visited my grandparents, there were no toys. Grandma had one thing that that was better than a toy. She had a tin of buttons. She gave me a needle and thread and I would spend hours (our whole visit) stringing the buttons in all sorts of combinations. Reading your blog about your button collection brought those memories back to me. Thank you. I’d forgotten.

    • Memories like that are precious. It just shows that children don’t always need toys to amuse them. I’ve seen my little nieces being fascinated with my button collection too. It’s lovely to see how absorbed they are in watching me make a button bracelet for them. They loved picking out their favourites.

  9. What a wonderfully creative idea! Beautifully explained and presented– really excellent photos. Can’t say I’ve got a button collection (well, OK, a corner of a dresser drawer for the ones that fall off my shirts), but I’m always knocked out by crafts that incorporate “found” items. The results are unique, one-of-a-kind, and make store-bought stuff look boring.

    You’ve got a winner here, Jenn– well done, more great stuff for your online store, I hope! : )

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