How to Make a Beautiful Button Pillow

comments (23) March 11th, 2009     

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erika_kern Erika Kern, contributor
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If one button is good, hundreds must be better! This button-covered pillow is a great way to showcase your favorite mismatched buttons.
Button, button, whos got the button? You do!
Thanks to a recent trip to my favorite antique mall, I have tons of beautiful vintage buttons.
If one button is good, hundreds must be better! This button-covered pillow is a great way to showcase your favorite mismatched buttons.

If one button is good, hundreds must be better! This button-covered pillow is a great way to showcase your favorite mismatched buttons.

Photo: Erika Kern
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I must admit, I've never been one for moderation. You mention an idea to me and I will take it to its most ridiculous over-the-top conclusion. So when I was told that this was button month on CraftStylish, my mind went wild because if a few buttons make things super pretty, imagine the impact of a few hundred! True to my nature, I made this pillow covered top to bottom in beautiful vintage buttons accented with a contrasting colored thread.

Want to make it yourself?

What you'll need:

  • Buttons (about 600 for a 12-inch x 12-inch pillow)
  • 1/2 yard heavyweight fabric for the front (I used a white, bottom-weight cotton twill)
  • 1/2 yard accent fabric for the back (I used a nice summer-weight embroidered cotton)
  • Rotary cutter, straightedge, and cutting mat
  • Large piece of paper or cardboard
  • Pen and pencil
  • Hand-quilting thread for sewing on buttons (it's a bit stronger than regular machine-sewing thread)
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread (same color as your fabric)
  • Sew-on snaps
  • Pillow form (I found this at Ikea)

First, cut your fabric using a rotary cutter, straightedge, and mat. You'll want to cut the front fabric for the buttons a bit larger than the rest of your fabric because it will pucker up a bit as you sew on your buttons. I cut the front piece 14 inches x 14 inches. The rest of the fabric is cut 13-1/2 inches x 13-1/2 inches. I ended up cutting a total of four pieces of fabric, two for the front and two for the back. Since my decorative fabric for the back of my cover is a bit on the flimsy side, I cut a piece of the heaver-weight twill to back it. I also cut a piece of the decorative fabric to back the button-covered fabric so that the inside of my cover is nice and neat and my stitches are protected. 

Once your fabric is cut, move on to your buttons. I went with pearly white accented with some pretty vintage pink, but you could do all red, green, or brass. If you don't have a lot of buttons in one color, you could put together a collection of your favorite multicolored mismatched buttons, which would look beautifully Bohemian.

Before you start stitching, it's a good idea to do a layout of your button pattern. First, make a template.

I used a bit of old cardboard to make a template for my pillow. You could also use wrapping paper or craft paper.

Then, use your template to lay out your buttons. This takes a bit of time but, trust me, it's worth it. Doing a layout will make sure all the buttons you want to use will fit on your pillow.

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Comments (23)

ChristineDesigns writes: I still dream of making this pillow. All the supplies are at hand, I just haven't made the time. I love the red thread with the buttons.
Posted: 11:41 pm on November 22nd
cazmc writes: How to torture your guests in one easy lesson, surely that has to leave marks.
Posted: 2:14 am on June 24th
lavenderfield writes: What a wonderful idea! I think I'll go make me one (or 2... or 3...)
Posted: 3:47 am on June 17th
SummerRoseScrapbooks writes: This is fabulous! I have a ton of vintage buttons from my mother-in-laws sewing basket and have been wanting to do something with them. This is great. I think it would be pretty also to make a button shaped heart in the middle out of different colors of buttons than the rest of the pillow!

Posted: 3:57 pm on June 16th
Stacey_Folsom writes: Simply beautiful. I must get the jar of my grandmother's buttons out and make one for myself.
Posted: 10:00 pm on April 8th
erika_kern writes: ImaMes: Yeah, I usually do pillow backs like that so I thought I'd mix it up with the snaps. I love an envelope back pillow cover, though.
Posted: 1:43 pm on March 19th
mscraftypants writes: Really beautiful you crazy lady you! I love the white on white buttons with red thread. I'll be interested to see how different it looks with colored buttons. I can see the same theme though - a contrasting thread regardless of the button color choices. LOVE IT! And my thumb hurts for you. (I know you have no feeling left in your fingertips.)
Posted: 1:48 pm on March 18th
ImaMes writes: Beautiful pillow! I love buttons and have a huge collection I got from my grandma. She loved buttons, too! I don't like hand sewing snaps etc. so I avoid it on pillows by making the back in two pieces and overlapping them. You did a beautiful job on the snaps, though - perfectly spaced. Kudos!
Posted: 2:15 pm on March 16th
fantazya writes: I love this !
Posted: 1:43 pm on March 14th
picklini writes: Amazing!
Very interesting combination of pillow and buttons!
Posted: 9:47 am on March 14th
Janesdesigns writes: Gorgeous!!!
Posted: 12:46 am on March 14th
imnotyrbabe writes: i love it..super cool idea..i've ton of buttons left ..i should make this ^^ thx
Posted: 8:27 am on March 13th
JennieC writes: I have a shoebox full of white buttons. This is fabulous.
Posted: 12:06 am on March 13th
Merit writes: Really, really gorgeous! Just what I needed - an excuse to buy more buttons.
Posted: 6:58 pm on March 11th
MichaelaMurphy writes: I've been staring at this post all day--stunned! I have finally stabilized to the point where I can comment. My comment is WOW. Erika, you blow me away. WHOOOSH. I'm gone.
Posted: 6:58 pm on March 11th
leethal writes: Wow, gorgeous!! All that tv button sewing time so paid off! I totally want to make one someday with mostly blues and greens, and then a few oranges here and there... I just need to start collecting more buttons now since I've been using up my stash this month!
Posted: 5:00 pm on March 11th
BrendaPinnick writes: Beautiful! Normally I associate buttons with "homespun" but this is not!
Thanks for sharing the tutorial and the great idea!
Posted: 4:28 pm on March 11th
szyhomemaker writes: A few years ago I did this as a band around the top of 'bucket' purses that I made for my sisters for xmas. I was unemployed and had too much time on my hands. On a couple of them I also added clear seed beads between the buttons and in the actual stitch securing the buttons. They were a huge hit.
Posted: 3:28 pm on March 11th
Sister_Diane writes: This ROCKS! And my first thought was, "Dang!! How long did it take to sew on all those buttons?!" But the end result is stunning, and we all need a good TV craft project.
Posted: 2:57 pm on March 11th
MaggieBelize writes: What a gorgeous project, I love it!

And I wondered if all those buttons could be machine-applied, so I appreciate JenniferStern's tip, too.
Posted: 2:02 pm on March 11th
erika_kern writes: Great idea, Jen! I thought about doing it on the machine but I thought that the buttons might be too close together so I didn't even try. Silly me! Good to know for the future, though. . .

Yeah, I felt a bit crazy when I hit the halfway mark, but by that time I was in too deep! Funny thing about it is the weight. Since I used mostly shell and mother of pearl buttons, it's soooooo heavy!
Posted: 1:49 pm on March 11th
LindaPermann writes: Wow Erika, you are insane! (In a good way!) The pillow is beautiful and I'm so glad you took the time to make it.

Jennifer- that is a great tip! Thanks for sharing it.
Posted: 12:23 pm on March 11th
JenniferStern writes: Your pillow IS beautiful!! --If you want to speed up the process of sewing the button on, you can do it by machine. Just "scotch tape" the button in place, drop your feed dogs and use the zig-zag stitch to sew them on. If you don't have a "sew on a button" foot, use an open toe foot so you can see the holes. Line the button up under the presser foot (The scotch tape keeps the button for sliding around). With 5 or 6 swings of the needle the button is securely in place! (Hand-walk the machine to make sure the width of the stitch matches the holes in the button before you let it rip.)
Posted: 12:15 pm on March 11th
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