DIY Display For Vintage Buttons, Ribbons & Other Sewing Notions Collections

At Design Sponge, Haylie Waring shows us how to make sewing notions displays. Waring’s examples use ribbons and buttons, but this project could also be done with beads, lace, fabric swatches, etc. — as well as jewelry, shoe clips, pinbacks, and other bits and bobs.

Beautiful to look at and, as Waring says, this offers practical organization too:

Due to the lack of space in my studio, I am constantly forgetting what notions I have packed away in my organizer containers that I keep hidden in a storage closet, or up on my highest shelf. When you don’t know what is in those containers, it is hard to know where to begin, and I am often tempted to just go out and buy more supplies. This DIY project is the solution to that problem, and it seconds as art work on my work-space walls.

…Also, I like to tag each board with a number that will match up with the storage container where you keep your coordinating back-stock, so things are easily located.

Included in the step-by-step project instructions are two of her original 8×10 design templates.

Old Buttons

My Grandmother had a button box. She would add any buttons from clothes that were worn out and being cut up to use for patches and cleaning rags. Sometimes she bought sets of 4, 6 or more buttons on sale somewhere and brought those back (kept on their cardboard packaging) and put them in the button box too.

As she got older she became legally blind and was no longer able to sew her own buttons (or anything else) as well as she used to. She was always more of a cook anyway. I still remember the white sweater I fixed for her. It had a few loose buttons and one missing. It was one of the very few times I got to look through something of my Grandmothers. She brought out the button box and let me have a look through them all. I found enough new buttons for the white sweater, all matching and all pink.

For years she would brag about how well I sewed those buttons on her sweater. She said I had done them so well they would never come off. I did too. I remember sewing them on and how honoured I was to do something, something real, for my Grandmother. Not just kid stuff playing around. She kept that sweater and the buttons did last years and years.

I still like buttons. I guess I have a soft spot for them. My Mother had a button box. My Grandmother’s buttons became part of that collection in time. My Mother gave me the button box a few years ago, when she started spending winters in Florida. We used to sew together but that was usually around the holidays. Now that I’m alone I still do some baking but not so much sewing.  It’s kind of sad. I have that button box but it’s been many years since I last looked at any of the buttons in it.

There are some nice crafts with buttons, like button bouquets. I’ve seen a few uses for them other than the traditional clothing fasteners. One site has old/ vintage buttons turned into fancy rings. I’ve seen scrapbookers use buttons as flower centres in drawings. We have used buttons in place of game pieces. They string up on ribbon and look pretty girlie and pretty too.

Old, Retro or Vintage Buttons

Button Swaps

People Who Like Buttons


I use a corner of whatever I’m sewing to stick all my pins into while I work. It works fine while I’m repairing something small. Not so great with those bigger projects like hemming curtains, there is a lot of fabric to pin into and those little things can get lost. It’s not an accident that pincushions were invented. Once upon a time pins were more expensive than they are now. The women in those days didn’t want to lose any of them. Not like myself who just thinks I’m risking injury later on when I finally do find that missing pin, in a painful way.

My only pincushions have been a tomato which had been my Aunt Sally’s when I inherited her sewing basket and a plastic thing that was meant to sit on your wrist. I never gave the plastic one much of a try. I just knew I’d never get much done with something on my wrist. But, it was a nice idea as a gift, from someone one Christmas.

I think pincushions are like aprons, very fancy and pretty but mostly practical only in a fashion sense. An apron keeps your fancy dress from getting bacon splatter. A pincushion keeps your pins collected on a pretty little thing. Both practical and yet superfluous too. You can wash your clothes, much easier than your Grandmother could. You can stick your pins onto your sleeve or in a plastic grocery bag while you sew. But, the pincushions are a really sweet and simple craft to make. They can be very detailed with lots of applique and embroidery, crochet or tatted lace too, anything you care to add to that little puff ball for pins.

Crazy Harberdasher has a post about vintage pin cushions.