how to upcycle your old clothes

How to upcycle clothes with buttons

buttons and embellishments


 How to upcycle clothes with buttons

Many people own clothing that is in good condition, yet they do not wear it.  Perhaps it seems outdated or is simply not exciting. This clothing can become an integral part of the wardrobe again with a little creativity.  While a garment may be recut or restyled by a skilled tailor or dressmaker, often all it takes are some new buttons or trim to make old clothes look new again.

Suit jackets are garments most likely to benefit from a change of buttons. An off-the-rack suit will usually have either standard metal buttons or colored buttons that blend in with the suit fabric.  A carefully selected set of new buttons can turn a simple front closure into a fashion accessory.  Use buttons as you would jewelry, to enhance appearance, add some sparkle, or pick up a color hidden in a plaid or print fabric. Fancy buttons for ladies’ suits? Yes!

fancy buttons for sale

 For the easiest change, pick new buttons in the same size as the old ones.  If your new buttons are just a touch smaller, you may tighten the buttonholes with a bit of careful hand stitching to close the holes by a millimeter or two.  If the buttons you want to use are bigger, one solution is to add snaps for the functional closure and simply sew the new buttons over the old buttonholes.


Buttons are not just for closures, though. 


A single large button can be used as adiamante buttons brooch or as an accent on a belt.  These are fabulous ways to perk up a ho-hum dress.  A cluster of small jeweled buttons can be sewn around a neckline or waistline as a designer detail.  Be sure to reinforce the area behind the buttons with a bit on fusible interfacing or with a small, flat anchor button on the wrong side of the garment so the new button does not stress lighter weight fabric.


where to buy embellishments for clothing



decorative snap buttons

To create a closure without buttonholes, try using decorative snap buttons.  These buttons often attach with an inexpensive tool that looks like a pair of pliers.  These are timesavers when you don’t want to make and open buttonholes, yet want the look of fancy buttons.





Handmade buttons and specialty buttons add a designer look to old clothes.  For a vintage look, try fancy pearl buttons.  For evening wear, jeweled buttons can elevate a “little black dress” to something really special.  Have fun with buttons and see how they can make a garment into something new again.  One source for specialty buttons is

buttons and embellishments 

where to buy craft buttons


Resources for More Creative Clothing

Brown, Christen, Beaded Embroidery Stitching: 125 Stitches to Embellish with Beads, Buttons, Charms, Bead Weaving & More


Fulop, Lily, Wear, Repair, Repurpose: A Maker’s Guide to Mending and Upcycling Clothes

Schaeffer, Claire B., High-Fashion Sewing Secrets from the World's Best Designers: A Step-By-Step Guide to Sewing Stylish Seams, Buttonholes, Pockets, Collars, Hems, and More

Smith, Alison, Sew Your Own Wardrobe: More Than 80 Techniques

Stanley, Suzannah Hamlin, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers: Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes


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