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From junk drawer to organized button library


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I have a bit of a button problem.

We talked a little about hoarding on Monday,and I gotta say that buttons have always been a bit of a weakness in that regard.

I find it almost impossible to resist beautiful or unusual buttons, especially vintage ones. All those beautiful carved pieces of bakelite or shimmering glass or tiny pearls, just waiting to be put to good use. Who can pass them up?

The result was a desk drawer brimming with a random assortment of buttons. It was so messy and chaotic I’d often give up looking for a matching set when I needed then and simply… buy more buttons. Argh.

Ikea to the rescue, as usual.

This is a dignitet curtain wire mounted to the wall with 4 sets of riktig curtain clips. We installed it on a low wall in our hallway, not far from the fabric storage. I figured they didn’t need to be front and center in the workspace, since looking for buttons isn’t something I do every day.

I organized them by color. The best part is that I can clip matching buttons together on one clip, so no more searching around looking for matches.

They are super easy to flip through when I need something. I’m thinking about installing a second one for trims.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 41


Speaking of trims, I had yards of all sorts of trims – foldover elastic, Cluny lace, selvedges in a big pile. Then I decided to copy my favorite store, Vogue Fabrics, and loop the scraps around bits of cardboard, notching the cardboard where the trim loops around to the other side. If this wasn’t brilliant, I don’t know what, but I had the most fun organizing a lot of my trims. It’s not done, but I’ve made some headway with it. Old FedEx envelopes work well for this. You can tuck in the ends of the trims on the selvedge, but I secure them store-style with a stapler so they don’t unravel.


I have been thinking of doing something like this too! I was thinking of using 3×5 cards, but recycling boxes and things would obviously be better. I hadn’t thought of stapling them, for some reason.


Seriously girl, THAT is not a button problem. A button problem fills multiple boxes. Like mine.

I do like your organization method, though. It won’t work for my button collection, but I’m sure it will work for something. Still in the process of moving my sewing room, so I’ll keep it in mind.


Ha! Ok, maybe it’s a bit of an overstatement. But there are enough of them to be annoying!

Elle C

What a brilliant idea! I am going borrow/steal/adapt it for me. And, btw, I have exactly those red buttons and on the same card. How strange is that?


Weird! I think I got them at our local antique expo. I bought them because they look like candy!


What a brilliant idea!!!….simply love it!


Brilliant! Of course I just organized my buttons by color and in doing so took most of them off the cards. Sigh. Oh well, I can’t screw things into the walls of company housing anyways.


wow, you’re superorganized! I’m amazed!


That’s incredible, and such a good idea! I’ve never seen buttons in anything but stacks of old cigar boxes–this is like a breath of fresh air.


Is it tragic that I just got really excited by button organisation O_o my man is laughing quite hard right now at the fact I want to go to Ikea to get sewing supplies, You’ve started something lady! :)

Rochelle New

Oooo what a brilliant idea!!


That is an amazing collection of buttons… great organization idea, too! ^__^


What a good way to organise them! And I think that, provided you actually make use of them eventually, buying nice vintage buttons when you see them is a good idea – attractive new buttons are so expensive.


True, and they’re almost always plastic. I really like czech glass buttons that aren’t too ornate.

I find clear sparkly glass buttons to be super versatile. They fancy up any sewing project, and they go with any color.


Brilliant! I look forward to seeing how you use it for the trims.


lovely! not only is this solution functional but it’s beautiful to look at too!


Very nice! I have had one of those curtain wires for several years and have never committed to a purpose for it. I think I ‘ve moved twice since I bought it! My original idea was to hang my some of my collection of museum (art) postcards from it, but if I had a larger sewing space I woud definitely copy this idea.


Great idea, it goes along with my working space too. And just when I’m going to start selling coered buttons with my fabric scraps! Great idea to organize them, thank you!


I have 2 quart buckets of buttons, some of them I inherited from my grandmother. Fortunately, the buckets have tight fitting lids. I have the matching buttons threaded on string and tied in one bucket. So if I need to look for matching buttons I have to open one bucket. The other bucket has my non-matching buttons and my buckles. If I pop a button the odds are I have a matching button in the bucket.

Kittee-Bee Berns

I do so love vintage buttons!! I have a few bins full of them myself, but I haven’t quite ventured into boxes. I love this idea.



Great organizational solution! I wish I had the room for one of these!


I just love that you’ve got buttons branded “Exclusive Maid”! What a funny combination of words.


I know! I’ve long wondered what that is supposed to mean.


This is a great and cute idea! I might have to use this ideas for my huge collection of zippers :)


What an ingenious way to keep up with all those buttons, snaps and tiny items! Keeping things organized is always a challenge in any sewing room. Thanks for the great idea.


Great idea! I love those green buttons.

Hanny Bobbins

I love the idea of doing this with buttons. I do something similar with zips. I love just being surronded by my sewing stuff!!


Took all my buttons off cards and used baby food jars to sort by color. Just dump the jar and choose what I want to use. The jars take up much less room and are easy to see the colors.


I store ribbons, binding, lace on either toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. They remain unwrinkled that way and are easy to find.


I use an old fashioned double lift top sewing box on legs, with and drawers on each side. The buttons are in repurposed egg crates in the drawers, sorted by color. The box looks great in my small hall outside an equally small sewing room, but is easy to access when needed.


I have a huge collection of vintage and other “interesting” costume jewelry. I’ve been trying to find a solution for my collection of feather and tassel earrings and other long danglies that won’t fit neatly in jewelry boxes without tangling or getting ruined. If I put them on cards and then in baggies if necessary, as some of your buttons are, this would be perfect!


I have a 14-part hanging shoe organizer on the back of my studio door and it holds a TON of stuff. I organize mostly by color and it includes trims, yarns, embroidery threads, seam binding and bias tapes, laces, etc. It’s just great because I can instantly go to whatever color I’m looking for. The exception is multi-colored things and those I group together by dominant color motif. I put stuff on old trim cardboards. Unfortunately, the hanger is falling apart and I’ve looked high and low for a duplicate without success so I’m going to modify some I bought, whenever I get around to it.
I have buttons by color in old rx bottles but have kept a lot of my vintage ones I “inherited” from my husband’s mother and grandmother on their cards by color. I also have funky looking snaps and other things from them. I like your solution tho!


I like to use old glass canisters like from a candy store long ago, but those are hard to find, or are expensive. Ikea glass canisters (available in 3 sizes) are good for those of us with waaay too many buttons. The containers are big enough to put the whole card in, and you can see almost everything inside, and no dust! The lids just push on and pull off, so you don’t have to mess around with screwing them off and on. I sort them by color, too. I enjoy seeing my button collection on a shelf, lined up like books.


I am a bit shy about revealing this, but I have been sewing (professionally and other) on a machine for 47, almost 48, years and I ALWAYS have sewn over my pins. I thought everyone else did also! I do break a needle once in a great while but usually only if the fabric is real thick and pulls the needle out of line. I can’t imagine having to pull pins out before the fabric goes under the foot. Maybe this is how I have always been able to sew so quickly! Well, now I’m out of the closet…

As for organizing trims, bias tape, etc., I put each on thin cardboard (cereal box) rectangles, if they were not already on it. Then I got a large storage multi-drawer unit in the hardware section of Lowes. I arranged the trims by color- the drawers are see-through. The cardboard size that bias tape comes on fits in the drawers exactly! The leftover drawers hold appliques.


Hi Sarai

Tonight I am in the midst of sewing the Hazel dress. I just wanted to leave you a wee message to say how much I love your patterns. Up until a few months ago I hadn’t sewn since I was 12, and my lasting impression was of that experience was of frustration, lots of crying, and an awful end result.

The first dress I made was Peony and it came out so much better than I ever expected. The instructions were awesome, non-intimating, and because of that experience I am SO inspired to sew more.

Thanks so much.



Thank you, Jen! What a wonderful comment!


So great! Part of the reason I have all of those vintage buttons is because of the packaging. Really, really cute.

Barbara Dobree

I, too, love buttons and have a huge collection. A lot from my grandmother, who gave me her button chest – sort of multi-sided with a lift-up top that reveals lots of built-in wooden containers with matching lids. Last year I decided to sort all my buttons and with this piece of furniture it was so easy. The centre is hollow and tapers like an upsidedown cone. That’s where I keep my big stashes of buttons in small Zip-lock bags, and all the ones on the cards, also in bags. I recognize quite a few of the vintage button and snap cards shown in your post. For years now I have been saving up real mother of pearl or abalone shell buttons for making myself a button blanket.(West Coast native style). They are really hard to find now as most of that type of button is made of plastic. Eventually I’ll have enough. I’ve been known to ask people to give me the buttons off their blouse when they’re finished with it! I love buttons.


So many good ideas! Hanging the buttons on cards is great. I think I would like to do that with my many ‘craft’ patterns also; I could look through them much easier for ideas. Currently they are in a cupboard in my sewing room and I have to sit on the floor to get at them and pull them all out. Because of this I have actually purchased the same one twice more than once!!!!

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