Sunday, 25 September 2011

Buttons & bows - Christmas Tutorial no 5

The Button Jar

Since I was a child I loved my mother’s button jars, they were so exciting and in our house they were colour coded.  There was the white jar which contained the shirt buttons, snipped from exhausted shirts worn to within an inch of their lives with turned collars and cuffs and strung together for re-use and then my favourites, the dainty Mother of Pearl buttons, that caught the light and sparkled.  Then there was the bigger jar with huge coat and jacket buttons, in forbidding hues of navy, black and brown with horn buttons thrown in for light relief. And finally, my favourite the oddities, they were the bright shiny buttons, or the small delicate jobs shaped like flowers and I even seem to remember a few stray RAF buttons removed from my father’s Greatcoat.

Before my mother died she joked, “I’m not worried about making a will as I know that you two have got the contents of the house divvied up down to the button jars!”

So I thought we would make a practical and personal gift this week – a button jar with handmade buttons.  You will need:
A Leifheit Jar ( be impressed now, this is the official name for jar where the lid comes in two pieces, a metal disc and screw band)
Kapok stuffing
A heavy drill cotton scrap – eg, Ticking
Glue gun (well now I have one I should practice with it!)
6 Self covering buttons
Contrasting fabric scrap
Iron on fabric paints – or
Embroidery threads
Pencil or fabric marking pen
The embroidery hoop you can see belonged to my mum and is over 70 years old
Access to your kitchen for round items to draw around... or if you still have that set from Geometry or a Mason in the family, a pair of compasses
Embroidery hoop
Needle and scissors

Suggested contents to add to the jar
Small sharp pointy scissors
Set of sewing needles
White, Black Navy and Brown cotton
Hooks and Eyes

Take the jar apart and find in your kitchen a saucer, pint glass or large mug which is approximately 1" wider in radius than your metal disc lid.  Use this as a template to draw out a circle on your ticking fabric and then use the metal disc to cut out a circle of cardboard and cut out another piece of fabric about half an in wider in circumference.
Now using a double thread, tie a knot in the end and starting from the back of the fabric, make small running stitches about 1/4" from the edge.  Bundle up your stuffing and place it on top of the metal disc and capture the with your fabric... don't pull the fabric  tight until you are happy with amount of your stuffing, ie will it be able to hold needles and pins but not too full that you cannot get the screw band over it.  Now pull your thread tightly and sew off with a very firm couple of stitches.
Using the other circle, repeat the gathering process and place the cardboard circle in the centre, gather up the fabric around it and fasten off securely.  Now you can either glue the cardboard circle to the lid or whipstitch the two together - whipstitch is a simple over sewing stitch to join two seams together.
Now the jar is ready to be filled... so let's make some buttons to go inside.

Let's say that your button is an inch wide, then draw a circle that is 1.5" in radius, draw six circles like this  quite closely to each other and don't cut them out as we are going to stretch them over an embroidery hoop... I said DON'T cut them out, *tuts*
Now you have two choices, if you don't enjoy embroidery use your paints to creat a simple design on the fabric... I am the least artistic person you can meet so I will have go with needle and thread.  Let you imagination run riot... flowers, animals, shapes, letters, just go for it.
Carefully cut out your finished circles and with your doubled up thread sew a 1/4" from the edge, place the button in the centre and draw the fabric up.  
Now this is the fiddly bit, gently place the back cover over the button shank and push home firmly, you are allowed to swear quietly if the back cover pings off, this will happen about 50% of the time, it's the law!
Cut out a square of cardboard and using a large sharp needle, sew a couple of stitches to attach the button to the card.  If you have a compliant printer, print up some suitable wording to put on the card

So there you have it a day to day button jar with everything you need for a button emergency... and something for your children to fight over when you go!

And now for the really good stuff, pop over to Wendy's Homemade Monday and don't forget to leave a comment.  Have a great week :)


Caroline Nash said...

Those buttons are so sweet Ros, thank you for the tutorial


Another great tutorial - thank you. Not sure which buttons I like the most -think it is the blue ones.

Wendy said...

What a lovely tutorial. I remember covering buttons in my teens and have never done so since (too fiddly and frustrating for me!) but I love the embroidered ones you've done.

I remember a huge tin of buttons from my childhood - like a big biscuit tin. My mum was obviously not as organised as yours!

Kazies Magical Designs said...

very cute buttons
I have a button box that my grandad had in his house years and years ago I love it its a sort of tin but very nicely shaped
but like you I like to store in colours mine are in different shaped jars the idea for the lidsare lovely xxxx

Caroline Lovis (Redneedle) said...

Fabulous embroidered buttons! What a marvellous idea as usual you have set my cogs whirring with another great tutorial. Thank you for sharing it. I've just inherited a button jar from my dear old Nan.

mcrafts said...

Love the buttons! I have 2 button jars (well actually they are tins!) that belonged to my mum - not used as much as when I was young.

CarolC1 said...

hey look so good I am going to try it. Just need the jar. I have some old kilner jars at the back of the shed somewhere. I am almost sure they have screw on tops like that. Will ave a ferret to see. Thankyou for the inspiration.

Polly Polkadot said...

Really lovely idea, and a great Christmas present.

Roses & Rue said...

Hi Ros, jar idea is really good. We use it a lot at the shop as its a quick easy project to do over a morning session and you can use some lovely fabrics to pretty it up as much as you like.
Really love the buttons, design is really pretty and would look lovely on a nice cardi

The mum of all trades said...

I love this idea! Great instructions

Picto said...

What is it about buttons that most of us love? My mum had a fine big jar with leather covered buttons that looked like half of a football, she used them for the cable sweaters and cardi's she knitted for my dad.

Thank you for the kind words you left on my blog, I done one last week that said 'days till our brave soldier comes home'.... that one made me feel quite humble.

Jan x

loody said...

What a beautiful idea...thanks for sharing! xx

Martha said...

kilner jars and other type of crafty and not crafty jars - tell me more!
i love them! the jar, the glass, the engravings, the storage.

im keeping an eye on such a jar with a two-piece lid, im definitely getting one!

thank you for the button tutorial x x

Anonymous said...

good tip about cutting out the fabric after the embroidery - i wouldn't have thought of that

Pickle Lily said...

Another great tutorial - thanks Ros for sharing.
Jo x

Helen said...

Thanks for that ros :) the buttons are lovely and i really like the dea of the jar :)

MissesStitches said...

Really love this idea of the embroidered buttons! Button jars old and new are fascinating. . .