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Buttons Galore

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I have a confession to make…I love buttons; buttons in all shapes, sizes and materials. It is my firm belief, that there are few garments in your wardrobe, to which new buttons cannot bestow new life if required. I would go so far as to say that this does not only mean older clothes that need a facelift. If you spot something on sale that you like, except for the buttons, it can be worth considering a purchase and a change of buttons to achieve the effect you want. This could apply particularly to clothes on the bargain rail or in charity shops, when it can be worth taking a chance on a garment that just needs a little twist.

I did this a couple of years ago with a collarless linen jacket that I spotted on a stall in the St George’s Street Market. I loved the jacket, especially the embroidery on the front and sleeves, but I disliked the gold buttons, which I felt were completely wrong for the design (see gallery). Since the jacket was only €10, it made sense to buy the piece and hunt around for a set of buttons that worked for me. I found some round bronze coloured buttons that I really liked and so I didn’t look back. I have to admit however, that my button sewing techniques leave much to be desired (particularly on buttons with a shank), but as long as all looks neat on the outside, I can live with that.

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Next, an example of changing buttons on a long time wardrobe resident. I had the task of tweaking a smart and versatile black wool jacket with red piping. I had never liked the metal blazer-type buttons on this jacket though I could not really have said exactly why that was. Eventually I decided on a change to give the jacket a lift, and picked up some new black buttons in the late, lamented A.Rubanesque  (not forgetting to allow buttons for the pockets as well). I chose shiny black buttons, with a crest design in relief, which I felt were ‘warmer’ than the discarded metallic buttons.

My only button-related reservation is that it is very frustrating to lose a button from a garment and then not to have a matching one in replacement. I have often used up the extra one that manufacturers give you and then find myself stuck. Of course, that might be the ideal excuse for a complete change to a new set. I do keep odd spare buttons in my sewing box in the hope that they come in useful for emergencies or new creations. My mum used to keep buttons in an old tea caddy, and while I don’t have anywhere near that many, my spares do come in handy. A suede-covered button left over from a much-loved jacket proved ideal for one of Verity’s projects: her new laptop case. It is always worth hanging onto odd buttons, just in case you find a better use for them. You can also buy bags of mixed buttons, such as the one shown below, which has been great for some of Verity’s other craft ideas.

I cannot finish without mentioning my very favourite buttons, a set of pink clay button in the shape of pigs. I do not remember where I bought them, but I once sewed them onto a man’s grey suit waistcoat that I found in a charity shop. I wore the waistcoat for years until I became fed-up with it, and cut off my pigs to reuse them.

If you are a button fanatic, do let us know…


Cosy computer case

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In an earlier post, I mentioned that I would be making a laptop case over the holidays. Well, I finished it! I put up a picture of the material already, it’s a soft brown with fluffy white stuff inside. I sewed the whole thing by hand and didn’t use any proper pattern. It’s just a simple rectangle. The fluffy stuff came off easily so I had to oversew all the edges at least once before I folded it over. The two shorter edges were oversewn twice and then finished with oatmeal bias binding from Hickeys (I would call the colour cream, but it says oatmeal on their website). I then folded the sides up, allowing a generous flap and oversewed them together. I finished both of the long sides with bias binding. At this point I realised it would be impossible to sew it on without some of the stitching showing so I used brown thread and did decorative running stitch along the edge. 

Laptop case

The case, cotton and bias binding.

The case is fastened with a length of leather thong and one button. The button is off an old coat of Chris’. I doubled a length of brown thong and sewed it at the edge of the flap, above the button. It goes down and wraps completely around the case before looping over the button. Knowing my habit of picking up folders the wrong way, only to have all the sheets cascade out, it seemed wise to be safe with the fastening.

The inside of the case

The fluffy stuff makes a warm lining.

I’m really pleased with this project, I think it looks quite smart and it wasn’t one of those projects that drag on forever. I did have a few moments of, ‘Why don’t I just buy a case? It would be so much easier’. However, while it would have been easier, I doubt it would have been cheaper. It’s difficult to calculate an exact cost of the project because we had the button, thread and thong already, but it must have been less than €15, which isn’t much compared to some of the laptop bags on the market.

What projects did you get done over the holidays? Or are you also creating cosy homes for your technology? We’d love to hear from you!

Christmas project plan

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Now the Christmas holidays are here, I can get cracking on a few projects I have lined up. The first is a laptop case. I bought brown suede fabric with a white furry lining from Hickeys. I want to make a simple case, just a rectangle I can fold up and sew. It will need a flap and probably a button or some sort of other fastening.

Suede fabric

Fabric for the laptop case

The next project is that embroidery, which I still haven’t finished! I need to buy some more skeins of embroidery thread, in peach, dark brown, light brown, light blue, red and pink. I also want to try to whiten the fabric a bit more, but at the same time I’m scared of damaging it. Any suggestions of a good fabric cleaner would be welcome.

The last project is another miniature one. I bought a small, plastic dolls’ house for 1 in a charity shop, with  view to doing it up. The house only has a roof and wall on one side, so I’m going to make the other side out of cardboard, covered with tiled paper. The house could do with some carpeting and I could make curtains for the windows. Handkerchief material is good for curtains because if its weight and the range of colours. The ground floor window opens and is a bit like a bay window. I want to make a hinged roof, but I’m not sure how to go about it. I could use some kind of tape or the small hinges sold in miniature shops. Any advice would be welcome!

Dolls' house

The front of the house

Dolls' house

The inside of the house









Do you have any projects going at the moment? Are you finding the Christmas season inspiring too?

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