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How to Design and Make Handmade Button Jewelry: Tips and Ideas

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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When I got serious about my jewelry making skills and started experimenting with buttons for some of my earliest designs, I never imagined that I would grow to love working with them so much. Buttons are a fun, inexpensive craft medium that can be used for any number of different jewelry projects including bracelets, necklaces and pendants, earrings, pins, rings, and hair pins. During my jewelry making endeavors, I have learned a number of tips and tricks for working with buttons. Whether you are simply interested in making a few pieces for yourself or to give as gifts or you are planning to make large quantities of items to sell, there is something in this article for everyone. Happy jewelry making!

I like to use a combination of new and vintage buttons for my button charm bracelets.

I like to use a combination of new and vintage buttons for my button charm bracelets.

Type of Buttons

One of the first decisions that you have to make when you start a piece of jewelry is the type of buttons you would like to use. Think about what styles and materials will fit with the project at hand. Do you want to use new buttons, vintage buttons, or a combination of the two? Do you want to use plastic buttons or do you want to explore other materials? Plastic is readily available, but you can also find buttons made out of metal, wood, and more. If you're interested in working extensively with vintage buttons, it is worth taking the time to learn about the different varieties out there. Different buttons work well for different pieces. As you become more comfortable with jewelry making, many of these decisions will come more naturally.

All of the buttons that you use should be high quality and in good condition. It is fine to use vintage buttons with some wear and tear as long as they won't compromise the quality of the piece.

All of the buttons that you use should be high quality and in good condition. It is fine to use vintage buttons with some wear and tear as long as they won't compromise the quality of the piece.

Select Buttons With Care

It is important to make sure that all of your buttons are in good condition. Even new buttons should be inspected. Just as there are often a few bad seed beads in a batch that should be discarded, they may be a few buttons in a bulk bag that are not in top condition. It is perfectly fine to select vintage buttons that have some wear and tear as long as they do not negatively affect the overall quality of the piece. For example, if you are using shank buttons with shanks that have nearly worn through, you may need to look for another alternative.

I like to use seed beads and charms in many of my button charm bracelets.

I like to use seed beads and charms in many of my button charm bracelets.

How to Make a Vintage Button Bracelet by Candace Jedrowicz

Material Pairings

There are endless possibilities for materials that you can pair with buttons for your jewelry making. Typically I stick to traditional jewelry making materials such as metal chain links, seed beads, and metal charms, but there is no need to feel limited to this. For example, consider the some of the components that people use to make steampunk jewelry. Again, it is important to consider the style of the piece. Most of the pieces that I make are intended to be fun, everyday jewelry that is not terribly expensive and can be dressed up or down for different occasions. If you are creating higher end items at higher price points, you will want to consider high quality components such as sterling silver and Swarovski beads.

I have developed several original button jewelry designs. This process takes patience and often some trial and error.

I have developed several original button jewelry designs. This process takes patience and often some trial and error.

Construction Consideration

When you follow button jewelry tutorials or patterns, construction is not a big consideration because the original jewelry designer has already put a lot of thought into it. Unless you are significantly changing the design, you won't have to worry about it. However, if you're creating your own original designs, construction is a big consideration. What material and/or jewelry making method will support the specific design? For example, I use a number of beadweaving techniques for my button jewelry and must ensure that the weaving construction will support the weight. It is also important to think about how the buttons will hang or sit on your piece, particularly for jewelry with hanging components such as charm bracelets and dangle earrings. Jewelry rarely looks the same lying down as it does when a person is wearing it.

People appreciate photos that show how items hang or look when they are worn.

People appreciate photos that show how items hang or look when they are worn.

Photography Tips

If you are only planning to make a few pieces of button jewelry for yourself or as gifts, photography is most likely not a concern. If you are planning to sell jewelry online and/or blog or post elsewhere (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) about your jewelry on a regular basis, photography is really important. I cannot stress that enough. Jewelry is an extremely competitive market, and it takes high quality photos to stand out from the crowd on Etsy, Pinterest, and blogs. I have already written a number of articles on this topic, which you can check out below. If you are brand new to the world of product photography, don't get overwhelmed. Set a couple goals and build from there.

Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 34: Easy Product Photography

I am always on the lookout for wholesale button options that will work for my popular jewelry designs.

I am always on the lookout for wholesale button options that will work for my popular jewelry designs.

Purchasing Wholesale Materials

Purchasing wholesale or bulk materials is another important consideration when you're planning to make large quantities of items to sell. I am always on the lookout for wholesale deals on new buttons and bulk vintage button offerings. I also scout wholesale options for other jewelry materials that I use frequently. For example, I go through lots of jump rings for button charm bracelets and a couple of my other popular button designs, and it has been worthwhile for me to find jump rings at wholesale prices.

I package all of my earrings on custom earring cards.

I package all of my earrings on custom earring cards.

Packaging

I could write a separate article about packaging, but the bottom line is that your packaging should fit with your jewelry. All of the same considerations about style, etc. that go into the jewelry making also go into the packaging. If you are gifting items, adding even very simple packaging or wrapping will make a big difference. If you are selling jewelry as opposed to gifting it, you'll want to consider how it fits into your entire shop aesthetic. I have used music as a backdrop for both my jewelry product photography and my craft fair display since I started selling jewelry. Thus, sheet music earring cards were a natural choice for my shop.

How to Make a Button Necklace by Michele Baratta | Jewelry Making

Are you looking for more button craft projects? Check this out!

Comments

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 24, 2015:

Thanks, heathersgreatcat! I agree that so many vintage and antique buttons have a lot of character.

Heather Walton from Charlotte, NC on February 24, 2015:

Great use of buttons. I especially love the weight and look of vintage and antique buttons. They have lots more charm than simple plastic buttons. Appreciate you sharing your design ideas.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 11, 2014:

You're welcome, Monis Mas! That's great. :)

Agnes on June 11, 2014:

Thanks so much for the ideas! I love making my own jewelry.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 19, 2014:

Thanks, Rosie! Yes, metal buttons are a great option. I haven't used them much because it's hard to find metal buttons that are small enough for a lot of my designs. But the results that I've had with them have always been fabulous.

Audrey Surma from Virginia on February 19, 2014:

I love the button earring and bracelets. I wonder if the metal buttons would look good too.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 22, 2013:

That's great, Fiona! Have fun. :)

Fiona from South Africa on December 22, 2013:

Hi there, just got my first bulk batch of buttons and quite excited to get started. I was going to make necklaces but those earrings look really cool as well!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 19, 2013:

I really appreciate that, Samita! Enjoy the article!

Samita Sharma from Chandigarh on October 19, 2013:

Wonderful Randomcreative ; love this one and have to save it into my favorites. You have the gift of making me feel that we are actually talking to each other and that is a gift you have been given and not something that can ever be learned from anywhere.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 10, 2013:

Thanks, Vicki! You definitely should.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on September 10, 2013:

These look fun! I have some stray buttons in a jar. Maybe I should put them to good use! :-)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 16, 2013:

Thanks, Leah! That's great. :) You should definitely set aside a few buttons for making jewelry!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 16, 2013:

I love these button-jewelry ideas! So very cute! My boys often use buttons in crafts, but I think I need to save a few so I can make some jewelry!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 09, 2013:

That's great, Rose! Thanks so much. Have fun with your buttons. :)

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 09, 2013:

This is so creative! You offered some great tips and now I know what to do with all these colourful buttons I have laying around. I love the finished products in the images you have provided. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 08, 2013:

Thanks, nnms!

Seiboi Misao from India on August 08, 2013:

Great ideas...

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 04, 2013:

Thanks so much, KoffeeKlatch Gals!

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on August 04, 2013:

What beautiful bracelets. I especially love the one in the first picture. Awesome hub.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 11, 2013:

That's so great, TheListLady! I hope that you feel better soon and have lots of fun with your buttons.

Neat, Vicki! Thanks so much. :)

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on June 11, 2013:

Buttons are so neat. I have a small jar of them that I keep of misc buttons I find here and there. You give great ideas for so many projects. I love your photos, too!

TheListLady from New York City on June 11, 2013:

I have over 1,000 old buttons inherited from a cousin who never threw anything out. Your hub is so timely - as I sit here recuperating from a back injury I am looking for something wonderfully creative and this will work. Thanks a million!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 02, 2013:

Thanks, Jeannie! So glad that you enjoyed.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on June 02, 2013:

Lots of really cute ideas! I would have never thought to create button earrings or use buttons to dangle from bracelets. Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 31, 2013:

Thanks, whaturmissing! Good luck with your button search.

portables, now you have some new ideas for your button box!

portables on May 31, 2013:

buttons are always great for this - whenever i see second-hand bags of them i buy them for my creative box.

whaturmissing from Canada on May 30, 2013:

Great hub that so useful and filled with such great tips and ideas on how to be creative with buttons! Think I'll start searching for buttons now. Thanks for the inspiration!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 30, 2013:

That's awesome, agapsikap! I'm so glad to hear it. It makes my day when I'm able to inspire other crafters.

agapsikap from Philippines on May 30, 2013:

This hub inspired me more to create wonderful button projects. Love all the idea you've shared and thank you for keeping most of us inspired in making beautiful projects. Sharing and pinning!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 30, 2013:

Thelma, good luck finding your buttons! I hope that you get a chance to try some of these projects.

Thanks so much, Glimmer Twin Fan! I appreciate your feedback.

Just Ask Susan, that's great! Have fun with your buttons. :)

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 30, 2013:

I love the pink ribbon bracelet. I have a button collection. I've been collecting buttons for years and your hub has inspired me to finally do something with them.

Pinning, sharing and voting +++

Claudia Mitchell on May 30, 2013:

I love your button jewelry! It's so vibrant and you have something for everyone. Shared around. Great tips for people interested in making it.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on May 30, 2013:

Awesome! Pretty! I would love to do this when I have time. I remember that I have some old buttons collected before. I hope I can find them somewhere. Voted up, useful and pinned. Thanks for sharing;-)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 26, 2013:

That's great, vesapwoolf! I'm so glad that this article was helpful for you. Best of luck with your projects.

Thanks so much, mr-veg!

mr-veg from Colorado United States on May 26, 2013:

That's a innovative and beautiful creation Rose !! You did a great job !! Voted up and sharing...

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on May 26, 2013:

I was happy and surprised to find this Hub. Although I don't plan to make button jewelry to sell, I have been wanting to make button earrings to match a button necklace that was a gift. Now I want to do the button bracelet, too! Thanks for this helpful information on finding and purchasing buttons. Voted up!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 26, 2013:

Thanks so much, Suzie! I go through periods where I make tons of jewelry and then I don't so much for a while, but it's been a passion of mine for a long time. I'm glad that you found so many ideas here that you like. I hope that you get a chance to try a few of them at some point.

That's great, ElleBee! Have fun with your buttons. :)

ElleBee on May 26, 2013:

Very cute! And I certainly have lots of buttons, may need to try something like this soon. Bookmarking it come back to when I'm in a crafty mood.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on May 26, 2013:

Hi Rose,

I love this hub! I make jewelry but it has taken a back seat over the past 6-8 months and I do miss it. I love your ideas for buttons which I have never used in jewelry but definitely looking at your gorgeous creations I am so energized again! Loved your earrings, so me and they are definitely going to adorn my ears! The chunky style bracelets are all me too and that's my problem letting stock build up for sales rather than wearing myself!!

Thanks Rose for another epic, All the votes, shared and pinned to fashionista!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 25, 2013:

That's great, faythef!

Carol, you're right that many people do have boxes of buttons at home. Creating jewelry with those buttons is just one great option for them.

carol stanley from Arizona on May 25, 2013:

What creative ideas to use for buttons Most of us have boxes of buttons around the house. Creating this jewelry is a super idea...Voting up and pinning in my craft area.

Faythe Payne from USA on May 24, 2013:

Great ideas..I have LOTS of buttons...I may put them to good use after all.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 24, 2013:

Thanks so much for the feedback, Tonette! I hope that your niece enjoys these ideas.

I really appreciate that, Rosie writes! I'm glad that you enjoyed the videos.

Audrey Surma from Virginia on May 24, 2013:

I love these bracelets, the set of earrings and the necklace shown in the video. They are all so pretty! You are very creative. Your hub is well-written and the appearance is appealing.

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on May 24, 2013:

You always bring green ideas..very helpful to young minds. I must share this to my niece as she is fond of little fancies and she's got a collection of colorful buttons, as well. Thank you Rose, you're very creative. Keep up and hugs from me:=)-Tonette

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 24, 2013:

Thanks, Sheri! I'm so glad to hear it.

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on May 24, 2013:

Very good hub. I made and sold jewellery for years and you have offered great advice.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 23, 2013:

Thanks, Jackie! The cancer bracelet was a custom order for a friend. I hope that you get a chance to experiment with your buttons!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on May 23, 2013:

I would love to make that cancer bracelet, it is so pretty. I have saved buttons for years, I also have a bag of earring hooks and this would really be fun. Thanks for sharing.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 23, 2013:

You'll have to give it a try sometime, vandynegl!

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on May 23, 2013:

This is very interesting! I've tried other jewelry making in the past, but have never seen the button styles! Thank you for sharing this information!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 23, 2013:

Thanks so much, Natasha! It is really amazing how many different styles of button jewelry are out there.

Thanks, MsDora! I appreciate that.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 23, 2013:

Really creative. Button work looks very interesting in your pictures and your instructions seem very detailed. You're a god teacher. Voted Up!

Natasha from Hawaii on May 23, 2013:

So pretty! Before I came across your things online, it never occurred to me there could be so many different styles of button jewelry! Your pictures are fantastic, as always, and your tips are very helpful. Pinning!