How can I reuse or recycle boring white buttons?

We’ve had an email from Sally:

I always snip buttons from old clothes before using them for rags but after a few years of my three’s school shirts, I’ve got more plain white buttons than I know what to do with. If they were pretty I’d keep them for crafts but they’re boring! Any ideas?

They could be revamped/upcycled to make them a bit more exciting: I saw a tutorial for spray painting plain buttons a few weeks ago – I’m not a fan of spray paints in general but if you had some ends of cans leftover from other projects, that certainly is one option. An alternative would be to use them to make fabric covered buttons, using up tiny bits of reclaimed material.

Aside from that, they could be used as they are in lieu of beads or the like in a homemade percussion instrument (not one for small kids).

Any other ideas on how they can be reused?

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17 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle boring white buttons?”


  1. Melinda says:

    -A quilt guild might be able to get them to someone who can use them. I’ve seen some quilts that feature them.

    -An elementary school or after school craft program might use them in their crafts. A school or hospital might also have an occupational therapist who can use them for small motor issues.

    - An organization might be able to send them to countries or projects that need them as part of a sewing scheme.

    -They can go on the back of some larger buttons to stabilize them, so that they don’t pull through the fabric so easily. I see this on coats, that have thicker, courser weaves.

  2. Hazel Edmunds says:

    As an organiser of a craft group for kids I’d use them for: bracelets, button trees, 3D collage, the centre of spinning colour wheels and … not sure at the moment but I’m sure I could use them.

  3. Bellen says:

    Perhaps they could be dyed with double strength fabric dye (use 1/2 the water). May need to rough the surface up a little.

    I see buttons used on cards and scrapbook pages all the time – usually with colored thread

    Can be used as a teaching aid: for counting, to teach how to button for a young child, for sorting if the buttons are different, to play Bingo, to teach sewing

    To make rattles from small plastic containers with glued on lids

    Strung together for limbs with small spools as the body trunk can make figures of people, animals or aliens with added yarn and embellishments to be used as ornaments or jewelry

  4. emma says:

    Make a curtain! Look at this website http://www.365slojd.se/?p=8287, its in swedish but there’s is pictures.

  5. Megan says:

    if they are similar to the ones in the photo, make a Pearly costume!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearly_Kings_and_Queens

    hardly any work there! ha!

    or start gluing them to things (like picture frames) and give them away as gifts

  6. Karmae says:

    Stack them with other buttons. Bead through the centre to attach them to the garment or whatever. Use them as centres for fabric flowers – use beads, threads or wires for stamens. And yes, they do take dye in a very inconsistant and interesting fashion.

  7. carol says:

    As a child, we would get into grandma;s button box and make wonderful necklaces and bracelets. Spent long afternoon just playng with those buttons, and they were mostly white.
    They also come in handy if you are missing a game piece!

  8. Clare says:

    Good idea, Bellen. I’m about to make a rattle for my baby using a handful of buttons and a clear plastic bottle.

    He has several already, filled with pasta, pearl barley and rice — they make a noise and give him the chance to examine small objects that he’s not yet allowed to handle.

  9. Christina P says:

    I like the idea to spray paint buttons. I’m going to try that this week! I just got a ton of white buttons and some boring blue ones. I wonder how they will look!

  10. Margorsson says:

    If they are pearlised why not get some crochet cotton and make a necklace

  11. Elizabeth says:

    One way to use button especially when they are the same size is half overlap two buttons line up one hole and put a threaded needle through one hole in and come back through the hole in two more buttons. This make a very cute necklace,

  12. Sara says:

    Paint half of them black and play Go:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_%28game%29

    Print your own Go board off the internet.

  13. Addy says:

    you could make them into a pretty wreath like this one:
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/112/312632722_4b1a4e2692.jpg

  14. Medeea says:

    I would keep a few to attach to pillow covers. I think of making them myself.
    The rest of the buttons I would put them in an envelope and send to some charity, craft center etc.

    Of all the ideas above, I liked the one decorating the garments in some floral shape.
    I think they are also useful on the back of large buttons on coats.
    They can be painted with paint spray and then clustered on some boring top…

  15. Uluska says:

    You can repaint those buttons.

  16. Verbal says:

    Make little wheels on a toy car.

  17. Luke says:

    Perfect for making Christmas decorations: glue them all over scratched ornament sphere.



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