Following my mother-in-law’s last visit to her sister and brother-in-law’s cottage, I began to receive packages in the mail. Inside the envelopes, along with a few goodies for the kids, were packages of vintage buttons. And I mean real vintage. Not reproduction vintage made last week in China and shipped over here. Little cards labeled with their original selling price of five cents, yellowed with age, but still showing the dramatic artwork that used to accompany even something as simple as a button.
Clearly, these were not buttons to use. No, these needed to be displayed, but how? Well, I had an idea. Have a peek.
I started out with one of these. It’s a shadow box that you can open from the front, allowing you to change the inside contents easily.
I started, ironically, by taking the back off, being careful to keep track of the teeny tiny screws.
This is what popped out, a nice blank slate.
This is my fabric of choice. It is a print that mimics vintage pattern envelopes. Perfect. Remember to iron it.
After I figured out which part of the fabric I wanted to showcase, I cut it to fit the board, allowing extra fabric to wrap over the edges.
I lined all four edges with double sided tape.
The fabric needs to be carefully and tightly wrapped around the board. But not too tightly, lest creases should appear. I just love using the ‘lest’. Sounds all sophisticated ‘n’ stuff.
The next part is a little tricky. I decided that my 17″ long X 8″ tall board needed two main X’s. The ribbon bottoms are 4″ apart from each other.
It’s a good idea to roughly lay out the ribbon and see where you would like it. The ribbons are all spaced approximately 4″ parallel to each other. The second set of ribbons is also 4″ apart, parallel to each other, but started 1″ off of where the first set was started, thus giving the criss-cross look. I use the word look here because I always get affect and effect mixed up.
The back doesn’t really end up being a thing of beauty. I don’t know about you, but my back end isn’t really a thing of beauty either. The exposed double-sided tape helps temporarily hold the ribbon until you can hot glue it in place.
When you are done, you end up with something that looks like this. Then you get to use your handy dandy hot glue gun again and stick on the buttons. In hindsight, I think I should have stayed with all pink buttons.
And here is the little beauty, all pulled together. Not bad if I do say so myself.
I have conveniently displayed all of my buttons to one side, leaving ample room for future button gifts. *Ahem*
Without the chronic interruptions, I’d guess this project could be finished in something like an hour. However, if there are small people in your care, as with most things, triple your time. By far, the most expensive part of this project was the shadow box itself. This one I picked up at HomeSense, on the scratch and dent rack, no less. It was $15; unscratched ones ranged from $20-$30. I used approximately 3 m/yds of ribbon for this size project. Thankfully, this size of ribbon is pretty cheap and I found this on the clearance rack, too. The buttons are run of the mill shirt buttons, although fancier ones could certainly be used. They run just over $1 per card and I used two cards. The fabric is the wild card. I probably only needed about 1/4 m/yd for this project. I bought a full metre to have on hand for other projects, after waiting for it to go on sale for half price. It is a quilting fabric, and runs $15-$20 for a full metre.
You could easily make a more masculine version to perhaps display fishing lures or golf tees. Upholstery tacks can replace the buttons. Jute twine might work nicely instead of the ribbon.
And that’s about it. This would make for a really thoughtful (and pretty frugal) gift for moms, sewers, teachers, and anyone else who has a collection of small things to display.