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Uses for buttons

By on June 1, 2012

Buttons can be fun to collect or to simply have on hand for projects. Many frugal people salvage buttons from old clothing. Maybe you have them displayed in a mason jar or tucked away in a sewing box. There are plenty of ways to use buttons, so if you come across a bunch at a garage sale or a thrift store, or if you already have some stored away, put them to use.
Here are a few ideas:

Replacement buttons:

Sometimes clothing comes with a replacement button. Save them in case you need them later. Jean, a reader from Canada, shares: “I store replacement buttons in a plastic drawer unit. Each color gets a different drawer. I have used them for a number of sewing projects, including tying a quilt with them by sewing a button every six inches. If I have a lot of one type, I’ll string them on some buttonhole thread (or other thick thread) and knot it to keep them all in one place. That way I can easily tell if I have enough of a particular type of button. Saves me hours of sorting.” Give a boring old blouse a new look with vintage buttons.

String them up:

Make bracelets, necklaces or wreath-shaped ornaments. You can loop a button onto an elastic hair band, too.

Earring organizer:

Organize your post earrings by pinning them through the holes in a large, flat button. This also works well when packing for a trip.

Decorative frame:

They’re pretty to use to jazz up a cheap frame. Another reader, Kathi S. from California, shares: “I used a hot-glue gun to glue buttons all around a picture frame. It turned out really well. I also bought a fancy saucer at a thrift shop and cut a picture of our granddaughters to fit in the center. I added buttons around the outside and then hung it in our living room.”


With a little glue, you can add buttons to magnets, votive holders, clay pots, hair clips/barrettes, decorative pushpins/tacks or bookmarks (glue buttons to a ribbon or a paperclip). They’re great for dressing up white canvas sneakers or tote bags for kids, too.

Sell them:

Buttons sell well on eBay. Vintage buttons are especially in demand, but there are a ton of button collectors who are interested in newer buttons as well.


A large, flat button works well when sewn onto the corner of a dishcloth. Use it to scrape dishes or counters.

Teaching and fun:

Buttons are great for kids to sort, count, create patterns, etc. Use them for games, such as tic-tac-toe, checkers or button toss, or make you own homemade mancala game with buttons and an egg carton. For a tutorial, visit

photo by Laineys repertoire

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