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There’s no way around it, buttons are magical. They are both commonplace and remarkable, functional and decorative. Did you know that, even though buttons appear as far back as 2000 BC, the buttonhole did not appear until the thirteenth century? Before that, they were solely for show. They’ve been made of wood and metal, plastic and bone, rubber and mother of pearl.

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And I love each and every one of them! From vintage to modern, outrageous to simple, button collecting has become one of my favorite creative addictions. Sorting through bins of buttons at a flea market, and discovering the ones that I cannot live without, is truly one of my greatest sources of inspiration. So much so that, a few years ago, I decided to share my button passion via a book, Button Ware. In it we provided over thirty different projects that transformed buttons into all manners of jewelry–bracelets, necklaces, pendants and more. One of those projects I’d like to share with you today – making button rings. They are wonderful accessories…and so incredibly easy to make.

Rather than drawing diagrams for something this simple, I’ve produced a short, simple video on the making of button rings. Head over to the “Learning” section here and take a look.

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Two things to remember when you start this project. First, finding the right mix of buttons is key. Mix and match vintage with new, patterned with solids. As I mentioned before, you can always find buttons at flea markets, in your grandmother’s attic and the like.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a creative boost to get started, you can always start with our Button Ware book and use buttons from our partner, JHB. For years, JHB has been making some of the most creative and stylish buttons you will find anywhere. While they only sell to wholesale accounts on their Web site, they do provide a link to retailers that carry their buttons. You can see that list here.

Making button jewelry is a wonderfully simple way to both recycle vintage goods into something stylish and engage your creativity. Once you get started, I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other over a bin of buttons one of these days.

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For my BurdaStyle readers only, I’m giving away a copy of my book, Button Ware. Tell me about some of the more remarkable one’s you’ve found…or about your favorite one…or about something you’ve made using vintage or unique buttons…and you could be the winner of the book. Please leave your comments by 9:30 am EST on Wednesday, February 23rd to be eligible to win!

Amy Barickman is the founder and owner of Indygo Junction, The Vintage Workshop and AmyBarckman.com. She is a leader in the sewing, needle arts and retail crafting industry having sold more than two-million sewing patterns and published 80 books sold throughout the world. Her recent endeavor is the book “Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun”, is already on its third printing since its release in September of 2010. Other best-selling titles include: “Indygo Junction’s Button Ware” and, most recently, “Hankie Style”.

124 Comments

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    Feb 23, 2011, 01.26 AMby littlefoxesdesigns

    I love to use vintage buttons on cardigans I find at thrift shop. This is a great way to add a new look to a basic wardrobe piece. My best friend crochets cuffs and adds vintage buttons to them so lovely and unique. I am very excited about this new book.

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    Feb 23, 2011, 01.16 AMby victoriacat

    I collect buttons and love just having them…I have my grandmother’s, my best friends mother’s buttons…yard sale buttons…I use them also for necklaces..earrings…jewelry..making purses and putting them on my quilts….button heaven is a bakelite button no one else has…

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    Feb 23, 2011, 01.10 AMby xiaowumei

    We love using buttons for my daughter’s school projects. They always turn out to be the best in the class!

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    Feb 23, 2011, 12.27 AMby luckypalm

    I also have a huge stash of vintage buttons and I’ve made bracelets with them. If I get tired of the bracelet it’s easy to take it apart and reuse the buttons in another project.

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    Feb 23, 2011, 12.02 AMby Gesundheit

    Just made my very first mixed media art picture with fabric, yarns, wool, felted roving, beading, dragonfly and using my favorite two vintage buttons (my late mother-in-law had gifted me) as flower middles . So much fun! Thanks, Amy, for the great video to learn how to make a button ring. One of my German girlfriends just started making button rings… and I might just surprise her with one made by me – thanks to your generous lesson :-) ~Cheerio, Christina

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    Feb 22, 2011, 11.58 PMby cbeard9999

    I have ALWAYS collected buttons….lucky me got my grandma and my mother-in-law’ button boxes when they passed. I have always looked for great ways to enjoy buttons in a arty way..and what better way than following Amy’s ideas from her “Button Ware” book! Looking forward to having a copy of this book soon! In the past I have used some of the vintage buttons I have to make ‘coat pins’ but arranging the various same hued buttons using a ‘collage’ like effect. They have been great gifts for my cousins and family in law so we all have memories of the people we miss and a special collage button pin keeps them close to our hearts!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 11.52 PMby ejanieb

    I love buttons, too! I have collected many, many over the years… using them for clothing (mine, the kids, and the grandkids), as well as bags. Received a collection from my daughter-in-law’s grandmother that included a lot of buttons from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Wow, what we wore then!!!??!! (That was my era). I have bought them at yard sales by the jarfulls. My favorites, though, are from my mother-in-law from the first half of the 20th century….just exquisite!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 11.27 PMby janks

    i have collected buttons since i was a teen….(just made it to the big 50)!!! years ago i took most of my collection and put them in a mason jar and then made a lamp out of it………….it went with me everywhere i lived and was always one of my favorite household items…. i love the idea to make the rings and am anxious to see what else is in the book

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    Feb 22, 2011, 11.09 PMby tievoli

    i found two blue faceted crystal buttons on a thrift store jacket – i got the jacket just for the buttons, I’ve saved them for something special- I never thought about making a ring out of them- i think I will. I’ve used buttons for the center of yo-yos (suffolk puffs) and flowers to decorate clothing or make pins. Tievoli

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    Feb 22, 2011, 11.03 PMby oriane0654

    I found a vintage Art Nouveau button that was a sea green porcelain, with a bronze, nouveau-ish metal frame and floral design around the edge.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 11.00 PMby jshelby

    The rings are fab. I am lucky to have my gradfathers collection of buttons, many from the early 1900. The collection includes under wear buttons, shoe buttons to fancy metal types. He was quite a pack rat. I have used them for jewlery, special clothing.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 10.55 PMby idahobride

    I inherited a box of buttons that belonged to my mother’s great aunt. They are made of shell and while over 100 years old, they’re pretty sturdy. Now that I’ve seen your work, I will use these buttons for rings as heirloom pieces for my nieces and great nieces. Thanks for a great project idea they will enjoy.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 10.19 PMby biskityas

    Project! I usually make rings out of beading wire and buttons but can’t gift them as they’re usually too small. This is the perfect solution! Thank you!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 10.04 PMby pezboy66224

    These rings would be a great girls craft night project and also for my brownie troop who loves to make stuff from buttons and they love jewelry Thanks for sharing your awesome idea! I like to use buttons in mixed media collages.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 10.02 PMby blissmama

    I loooooooooove vintage buttons! I have a ton of them and always buy more whenever i find interesting ones…even though I will never find enough uses for all of them! Intricately carved mother-of-pearl buttons are among my favorites, as well as rhinestone buttons, wood and bone. I have turned several into little post earrings and I also love to sew them on some of my new clothing creations simply as a quirky finishing touch – as if they were a special brooch or jewelry item to be showcased.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.46 PMby grammaheh1

    I love all kinds of buttons and have quite a collection to use for every holiday.! They add a fun or elegant embellishment to any project.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.43 PMby athenley

    I just started collecting buttons recently so I have not made many things with them. I just got my hands on some of my grandmother’s button stash, so this project makes me excited… I can see some vintage button rings in my future!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.41 PMby Debby de Wilde

    I got my moms buttons, she had tons of them. Some of them were from my grandmother. There’s some leather ones, porcelains and even stone ones. Love to go through them!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.40 PMby dorion

    I had never been all that interested in buttons until my grandmother gave me a stash of pearl buttons and ebony shoe buttons from HER mother. Very precious to me.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.33 PMby jilleileen

    I don’t know if I can come up with just 1 favorite. I love going through the collection that’s been in my family for generations. I can picture certain ones being on a baby dress my grandmother wore, and others that were on a coat worn by a great-grandfather. They’re so wonderful! Jill

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.24 PMby leenah

    I have drop earrings made of buttons from the year 1880. Buttons are wonderful for accent pieces. I’ve been trying to make Dorset buttons, which I find amazing – they were a cottage industry that supported many families before button manufacture was industrialized.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.17 PMby commercial2000

    My mom has a whole bunch. I love going through them all and finding some that she had used on our dresses she made my sisters and me growing up. Nostalgic and fun. I’m so going to do this craft and I’d love a copy of the book! Thanks!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.05 PMby seesuzsew

    This is the perfect solution for all those antique and unique buttons i have collected over the years and keep asking myself, “what am i ever going to do with these?”

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.03 PMby calendar

    I don’t have a big selection of buttons, but a year or two ago I purchased a button necklace from a seller at a craft fair.It has different sized buttons that are shades of green, and they are tied along a string. It kind of looks like a kids item, but it is cute so it doesn’t matter to me!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.02 PMby nostephot

    I have buttons from my grandmother that i keep separate from the buttons I have collected at estate sales over the years. I am always amazed at how beautiful and different they can be but the one ones from my grandmother I treasure!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 09.00 PMby missvintagegirl

    I love buttons. :) Once I found one in my button tin shaped like a mushroom. I stuck it in my terrarium. :) I also have four or five blue and white gingham ones that I really love and save for special occasions!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 08.56 PMby gardnwest

    I have my mother’s buttons!!!! and she was a seamstress in NYC…oh, they are gorgeous, and I spend time dreaming about what to do with them. Why my daughter was little, I put three little pearl ones of my mother on her dress.

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    Feb 22, 2011, 08.56 PMby alana23

    I have a beautiful shell button that would look perfect as a ring. Thank-you for the wonderful giveaway!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 08.55 PMby tdholthe

    This would be fun to do with my girls!

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    Feb 22, 2011, 08.47 PMby sherris

    I adore buttons of all sorts and have a bit of a hoard, I must confess. I adore 1940s plastic buttons with flowers/animals/etc., and any button with a rhinestone on it is a friend of mine. This book looks so fabulous…must go to the bookstore and check it out! I use vintage buttons on EVERYTHING…I knitted all my friends fingerless mitts for Christmas and sewed pretty buttons on the cuffs to elevate them a wee bit above the utilitarian. Thanks!

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