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Button Crafts




Buttons pull us together day after day, fastening our skirts, cinching our cuffs, closing our jackets. And yet their indispensability often goes unnoticed until we discover one missing.

You can take buttons out of their familiar sartorial context to showcase them on clocks, drawers, cards, totes, and table linens. Converted into colorful handles, intertwined with embroidery, or overlapped like sequins, they display surprising flair. You'll never take another button for granted.


  • Round cookie-tin lid
  • Awl
  • Nail set
  • Dial template
  • 12 buttons in various sizes, shapes, and colors
  • Multipurpose cement
  • Clock movement


  1. Step 1

    Purchase a clock movement, hands, and dial template from a clock-parts supplier or a hobby store, and find a tin lid deep enough to conceal the works.

  2. Step 2

    Poke a hole through the center of the lid with an awl. Using a nail set, widen the hole to accommodate the shaft.

  3. Step 3

    Refer to the dial template to position the button hour markers. Affix buttons with multipurpose cement. To assemble mechanism, follow manufacturer's instructions.

  4. Step 4

    Winsome tea napkins carry a harvest of buttons to the table. It takes only a bit of embroidery to flesh out the suggestion of cherries, apples, lemons, grapes, or a pea pod.

  5. Step 5

    In the world of vintage buttons, brown ones are plentiful and can be inexpensive. It should not take long to collect a hundred or so to transform a basic brown handbag into a smart study in neutrals. Or buy dozens of orange buttons and sew them in multiple layers to create a dazzling sequinlike effect.For complete instructions, see our exclusive web-only feature, Making a Button Bag.

Martha Stewart Living, May 2003



Reviews (19)

  • Rooby Dooby 20 Aug, 2012

    I've used blank computer discs to make clocks similar to this button one. Being a redhatter, I've covered with redhat material and bound the edges with hot glued on pearls, etc. The clock works seem to fit better ( tighter) if you use 2 discs glued back to back. The clock works usually have a hanger on them, but if not, you can stand them in a plastic holder for a framed photo. I will now make them using buttons from my Mom's 70-80 year old button collection ! A nice idea

  • mhds54 21 Nov, 2011

    I love this post. I have made one and featured it on NZ Ecochick. Please view my post on: Thanks for the great idea.

  • grammybutterfly 5 Aug, 2010

    bought a clock movement at Michaels but it doesn't come with a battery and the people there didn't have a clue where to get one/??? Could anyone help me?

  • hamp23 16 Apr, 2010

    I used burner covers-different sizes. Worked great!

  • deutzberger 23 Apr, 2009

    Joann Fabrics or most other craft stores carry the clock parts.

  • deutzberger 23 Apr, 2009

    Joann Fabrics or most craft stores carry the clock movements

  • Pria 23 Apr, 2009

    hey can anyone tell me wer u get these clock movement kits??

  • patriciasart 23 Apr, 2009

    What a great idea,love it !

  • damoorern 22 Apr, 2009

    Great idea I will be making this soon for my sewing/craft room

  • CookieMum 22 Apr, 2009

    Clock is a great idea for my craft room. Will definitely make in the near future. I'm thinking I will cover the lid with a piece of left over material to match my room.
    I also cannot obtain the embroidery instructions.

  • pas_non 22 Apr, 2009

    awww that's cuuute :)

  • sarahcc 22 Apr, 2009

    I can't get the link either. What is the cheapest place to get nice tea napkins?

  • gram300 22 Apr, 2009

    What a cute idea for a sewing area or sewing room, if you're that fortunate to have one!

  • Autsom 22 Apr, 2009

    This is so cute. I will make one for my sisters Tina

  • IMBobbin 22 Apr, 2009

    I keep getting an error message and can't locate the instructions for the embroidery

  • Anna_Marie 22 Apr, 2009

    What a GREAT way to recycle a tin lid! Sometimes I want to use the bottom of a tin for storage, but don't need the lid. Now I know what to do with it!

  • shelley-07 14 Jan, 2009

    The embroidery instructions for the napkins will not open to print

  • noiseynana 16 Apr, 2008

    Is anyone else having a problem downloading the simple embroidery instructions??

  • sheilascrafts 10 Jan, 2008

    Awesome idea. I will be trying this.