10 Ways to Reuse Buttons

If you're like me and can't bear to throw away even the smallest of things, chances are you have scores of buttons lying around your house. They're practical in theory — clothing manufacturers thoughtfully attach an extra button or two to pants, cardigans, and dress shirts, so that if one falls off and is lost in the abyss of your work week, you can easily replace it. But since I am on the lazier end of the spectrum, my extra buttons sit in a tall, thin canister gathering dust on my desk. Luckily, however, through the joys of DIY, I've recently discovered 10 simple and clever uses for those already-so-useful buttons. (See also: 25 Things to Do With Old Jeans)

1. Frames

After a recent spring cleaning, I found an old, busted-looking frame. The glass was perfectly good, and the back worked fine, but the frame around it was scoffed and worn. I grabbed a glue gun and my pile of buttons, and I got to work. By the end, I had a brand-new-looking frame. This would work for mirror frames as well.

2. Stationery

If you don't have any unused cards and envelopes sitting around your house, make some! Pick up some cardstock, glue, and paint or markers, and get to work. If you don't excel at calligraphy, print the cards first. Keep in mind that the extra weight and added bulk from the buttons might cost extra in postage.

3. Magnets

Now this anyone can handle. Hunt down some thick magnetic tape from your local supply store, cut it to the size of the button, attach the button with either glue or the self-adhesive tape on the back of the magnet, and voila! Your button is now a functioning magnet.

4. Pushpins

Mirroring the ease and usefulness of a magnet, buy some flat-backed pushpins and glue the buttons to them.

5. Jewelry

From button earrings to button bracelets, anything goes in this category. For earrings, buy a pack of earwires and grab small rounded pliers from your tool kit. If you pick a smaller button, this is all you'll need — put the earwire through the hole of the button and squeeze the wire together with the pliers. For something a little more complicated, buy headpins as well. Stack the buttons up on the headpin, use a pair of round nosed pliers to make a loop at the top, and secure on to the earwires with the pliers. If you've never made earrings before, Beadage.net offers simple instructions on drop earrings.

For a bracelet or necklace, use some sort of string — embroidery floss, elastic string, or necklace cord — to piece something together. Either do each button one at a time, looping through the button once to keep it tightly in place, or alternate sides of the string to create an overlapping effect. This is a good way to use those clear buttons that are included with most pants. Once you've made it long enough for your neck or wrist, tie the two ends together. A visual tutorial of the overlapping necklace (which can be made shorter to become a bracelet) can be found on this Estonian website, Craftwerk.

Jewelry organizer

6. Jewelry Organizer

I’m a big believer in displaying jewelry. Not only does it make me actually accessorize (I have a bad habit of just walking out the door with nothing extra), but it also serves as functional decor.

For this, I purchased a small bulletin board, fabric, batting, and a plastic canvas with holes, typically used for cross stitch. First, I placed the batting on top of the bulletin board to figure out how much I wanted to use. Next, I placed the plastic canvas over the batting, and the fabric over that. I secured the fabric to the back of the bulletin board loosely with staples, to test how much fabric I might need. Then I safety pinned the plastic canvas to the fabric on the four corners. I removed the fabric from the bulletin board, and, with the safety pins still attached, sewed my buttons on to the fabric, making sure to loop around the plastic canvas multiple times. I used seven shanked (no holes) buttons (you can use as many as you want), placing them randomly across the fabric. Once the buttons were sewn securely on, I put the fabric back on the bulletin board, using a staple gun to attach it this time, and hung my new jewelry organizer on the wall.

Say Yes to Hoboken made theirs even simpler by attaching a piece of peg board to a frame and sewing on buttons.

7. Button Trees

I don’t excel at art. My right-brained friends definitely overshadow me in this category. But for the sake of this article, I tried my hand at a fad that seems to be taking the internet by storm —  button trees. My attempt kind of failed, but this is an especially good project if you have wee ones running around (big enough to not swallow the buttons but small enough to enjoy it).

8. Candle Holder Decoration

Like the button bracelets mentioned above, these can be made with a simple strand of either overlapping buttons or one fixed button at a time. I would suggest using elastic string for this project, so that the strand stays tight around the glass. Once finished, put it around the candle holder. Try to pick out a candle that matches one of the buttons.

9. Flower Vase (and Flowers!)

If you have a vase, take a hot glue gun and arrange the buttons all the way to the top. If your vase is round, use the smallest buttons to glue on. If you don’t actually have any flowers to add to the vase, try using the remaining buttons to make this adorable button bouquet from Family Fun magazine (also a great idea for a wedding!).

10. Napkin Rings

Using the same technique as the candle holder, use your buttons to throw in a casual touch to your next dinner party. Hey, maybe you could even use an old tie, and secure it with a button.

Sew, what do you do with your old buttons?

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Love being frugal and completing DIY projects? Here are 10 simple and clever uses for those already-so-useful buttons. | #buttons #frugal #DIY

Additional photo credit: Jennifer Holder
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Meg Favreau's picture

I really like the jewelry organizer idea. I've also seen people sew a few extra buttons onto shirts and sweaters to add a little bit of extra decoration.

Guest's picture

I love that jewelry organizer too! I covered one of my old throw pillow with buttons. Sewing on all of the leftover buttons I had lying around was an easy way to make a dull pillow look a little fancier.