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Button Crafts

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2003


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

  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. 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. 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.

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