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One of the things I remember from my childhood is my Mamaw's button box. She must have had a billion buttons in it. She kept a large tin box about 10 inches high full of buttons. When something was too old to use again, we cut off the buttons and strung them together so we wouldn't have to sort out the whole bunch looking for a set of buttons for something she was making. I still love collecting buttons and I also thread them together to keep them sorted.
Saving buttons was a thrifty way to have on hand something that was needed. We never threw anything away that could be used for other things. We had to be frugal in order to live. I loved the button container. I would sit for hours going through it and picking out buttons I liked. There were so very many buttons in the can it was just like a treasure hunt for me. Life was simple and laid back back then. Makes you wonder what happened to change all those wonderful days to hectic and unorganized lives that we live.
Buttons back then were expensive and they are more so today. So next time you start to pitch a shirt or something that is no longer usable, be sure to cut off the buttons and string them together with thread, so the next time you need a button you'll be able to find them easily and save you some money.
By gem from Gordonsville, VA
By pam munro
You can dye plastic buttons, as long as they're white or quite light in color. Use a small glass container. Start with food coloring, mixing colors to get just the right hue. Add some vinegar and warm water (just as you would for Easter eggs) and put your buttons in. Leave the buttons in until the right shade is achieved - this will likely take several hours or longer. Let them dry and sew them on. The color may wash out slightly in the washing machine, but you can recolor if that is much of a problem. I came up with this when I couldn't find the proper color of buttons for a dress, despite checking numerous fabric stores!
You can make buttons from polymer clay. They can also be painted, if desired. These are wonderful for crocheted or knitted items and "crafty looking" clothes, purses, etc. It's easiest when you need fairly large buttons and just a few of them!
Save buttons and zippers from old clothes. Use buttons for updating clothes, pictures frames, etc. Be creative and save money, too.
I collect and save buttons. I look for garments with pretty, or different buttons at yard sales and thrift stores, and buy them for the buttons, alone. I remove buttons from my worn clothing.
I search thrift shops for clothing with fancy buttons (buttons are expensive). I buy an article of clothing for 1.00 or 2.00, take it home, remove buttons and sew on a plain blouse or the pockets of jeans.
You can spiff up plastic buttons by coating them with nail polish (if you are careful, you can do it without even taking them off...
Check at garage sale free boxes for dresses and blouses that have pretty buttons. These buttons can be cut off and reused (or collected) and it didn't cost you a penny. Also, watch for sweaters and other crocheted or knitted items in the free boxes.
When my twin boys were in grade school, one of them always came home from school missing a button. It was very frustrating, but they were very good at keeping the button and bring it home. Then it hit me!
I have a pal who cuts off all the buttons off old pieces of clothing that she's not able to donate or re-sell (stained). She keeps the buttons she thinks she'll use when making her own family's clothing. But the extra buttons, she accumulates in a see thru box stashed away.
Frequently clothing items such as sweaters, shirts, and coats will come with extra buttons or small rolls of repair yarn. This is a page about saving replacement buttons and yarns for clothing.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
If you plan on making a shirt that has buttons on it into a rag, be sure to the take buttons off. Buttons serve no purpose on a rag and you can use the buttons for something else. Once you have taken all the buttons off, sew them all together so that you will have a matching set. This is much better than tossing them into a jar and having to sift through buttons for a matching set.
You could also thread the buttons on a twisty tie (recycled from the bread). The twisty is stiff enough to thread the buttons easily and is quicker than threading a needle. (06/22/2004)
I thread mine on to a large safety pin. (03/15/2006)
By Cheryl from Missouri
Good common sense! This is what we need more of now, in this economic down turn with the economy struggling. Thank You! (01/12/2009)