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Designing with Buttons


by Ali MacDonald


Please note, this is an abridged version of a longer blog article by Ali MacDonald.


I love to use buttons in a variety of ways on my layouts, cards and altered projects.


Choosing Buttons


I buy most of my buttons from a vintage clothing store where they’re removed from items of clothing too damaged to resell.

I was always drawn to the larger buttons because of the visual impact they made, but I quickly learned that large buttons are not that useful on layouts!

When choosing your buttons, pick out a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Don’t buy too many large ones. Smaller buttons are useful in creating the button clusters I have developed as part of my style, so I’m always sure to buy them when I see some I like. Tiny buttons are useful as well, so keep some in your stash. Shanks on the reverse of the buttons can easily be removed, no worries! Clear buttons will allow the colour of your cardstock to show through and add dimension. As seen in card below, neutral coloured buttons placed together can pack a visual punch.



(Card is based on a sketch by Noella Arsenault.)



So, remember that:
Neutrals are handy
Clear buttons add dimension
Variety in colour and shape is good
Buy large buttons in moderation!
Shanks can be removed
You can never have enough small buttons!


Preparing Buttons for Use

Buttons with shanks are easy to adapt. Use a tool like this one to remove the shanks. It’s called a side-cutter.






Use safety precautions when nipping off the shanks as it sometimes flies off with some velocity.

Affixing buttons to a LO is easy. Decide on positioning, apply a Mini Glue Dot to the reverse of your button, and adhere to your project. Use 2 of the Mini Glue Dots if the button is large. I purchase all my Mini Glue Dots at Scrapbooker’s Club House. (I keep lots on hand! LOL)




Button Design Inspiration:


Buttons can become flowers, balloons, snowmen, planets, and wheels. Great for creating kids’ layouts!
A relaxed country look: run embroidery floss through the buttonholes, tie a tiny knot and leave the floss poking up.
Frame a photo with buttons. It’s eye-catching.

Doodle around your buttons for a beautiful look. Use a pen in a colour that contrasts with your cardstock. (I like Uniball Signo Gel Pens, and use the white one frequently! These pens are available at the SBCH store.)
Vintage buttons used as accents look right at home on heritage-style layouts.

Use buttons on handmade cards to add a bit of flair.


Tip [A]~


A button border makes a visually punched-up page accent as do the large buttons used as flower centres on this layout. 


Tip [B]~


Adding buttons to trees or vines as “fruit” or “blooms” will add an unexpected colour accent, as seen below. This card demonstrates how using buttons on handmade cards can add a bit of flair.





Button clusters are my ‘signature’ and I often use them on my creations.


Tip [C]~


Fiddle with button placement to get just the right look. Remember that in the case of a cluster of buttons, the cluster is the embellishment, not the single buttons within it.


Place your cluster on your LO, card or altered item where you feel an accent is needed.


Example; an Altered File Folder decorated with medium-sized buttons in an elongated cluster:




Tip [D]~


A button cluster will draw attention. Be sure the cluster complements the item and doesn’t overwhelm it!  In the layout below, it’s easy to see how the cluster, made with mainly tiny buttons in tones of grey and black, draws the eye to the journaling. A bit of doodling around the buttons has the same effect.





I bet your wheels are-a-turnin’ now!! What kind of a special “look” can YOU create with buttons the next time you scrap?


Have fun and be sure to share your creation with the gals over at Scrapbooker’s Club House. After all, sharing is what scrapbooking is all about. We all learn from one another! 


Comments on: "Technique Tidbit Thursday – Buttons, Buttons, and More Buttons!" (4)

  1. Awesome article, Ali. Wish I had a vintage button shop nearby 🙂

  2. Fun ideas Ali!!! I KNEW you would write a button article! 😉

  3. Thanks Gals!

    Heather~ TY so much! Buttons at the second hand store work GREAT! Also, buttons from “older” clothing! ANY buttons really!! LOL: Yes… I am addicted!

    Trina~ So glad you liked it!
    This a shortened version of a MUCH longer & more detailed article. I think it’s posted on the SBCH **Forum** under the “Tips and Techniques” section. :o)

  4. […] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by lilmonkeygirl20 on 2008-09-12 Technique Tidbit Thursday – Buttons, Buttons, and More Buttons! […]

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