Exclusive Buttons is one of the most magical button-places on earth. I was lucky enough to visit for the first time on a trip to San Francisco three years ago, and it just captivated me from the second I walked in.
It’s a tiny shop filled with vintage buttons of all kinds, from floor to ceiling, in cabinets and on hooks, on cards and loose, in the glass case and in dishes. The owner, Mrs. Mary Sortile, is lovely — talking with her about buttons is such a treat.
photo by Amy
Amy visited last month and wrote up a lovely post about her recent trip there, with tons more photos!
Here are some of my finds from my first two visits…
Some of them turned into Button It Up projects, and some are stand-alone treasures. I still don’t know quite what I’ll do with that gorgeous faceted crystal piece near the center, but just looking at it and enjoying its sparkliness is plenty for now!
I love the bright casein rounds on their original cards. I think that’s my own personal favorite button-style.
Be sure to check out Amy’s post for more Exclusive Buttons gorgeousness — she also added all her photos to the Button It Up flickr group! And if you have the book handy, my feature on the shop is on page 11, along with its majestic New York counterpart, Tender Buttons.
I hope to be back for another visit soon! If you go (and oh, you should!), the shop is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11-4, and Mrs. Sortile accepts checks and cash only.
10252 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530
My sweet and talented friend (and guest designer*, jewelry maker, and writer extraordinaire) Jennifer Perkins is a constant crafty inspiration to me — she’s always up to a million cool things at once!
here we are on the set of her DIY Network show Craft Lab a few years ago
And this week she has two posts on her Naughty Secretary Club blog about Button It Up: a lovely book review and giveaway (be sure to enter by next Tuesday for your chance to win a book!)
and an interview with me about all things buttons, along with some other fun stuff. Thanks so much, Jennifer!
*If you haven’t seen her wonderful projects, check out her Bric-A-Brac Charm Bracelet from Bead Simple
and her Feedsack Covered Button Necklace from Button It Up. If you like these beauties, you will love her craft book, Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry.
p.s. I have just joined Ravelry (as susanstars) if you would like to be friends over there. I am a pretty slow knitter (I love it, but it’s kind of my sixth craft) but it’s so much fun to see what other people make, and I was thrilled to see that there are a whole bunch of groups for button lovers!
On Sunday, Chelsea Cain wrote a lovely feature for the Oregonian about her family button collection, and how it connects her with her mother and now with her own daughter — something that is especially meaningful to me now that I have my own pearl button to share my treasures with.
She was kind enough to invite me over to their house to make button crafts with them and wrote about her childhood memories, my book, and our afternoon “great button geek-out” of gluing, sorting, arranging, and rearranging. It’s not online (yet?) so I snapped some quick photos of the page and put them here if you want to read along. Thank you, Chelsea!
And if you’re as eager for spring as I am, you might want to try this simple little pick-me-up project I just did for CraftStylish: making button and felt embellishments for a plain pair of shoes.
I’m getting excited about my two upcoming button book events here in Portland — the supplies I’ve ordered are arriving and I’ve been making my sample magnets and hairpins to show… so I thought I’d try picnik-ing* a a little invite!
And as I’ve been getting everything ready, I was thinking that it would be more fun if I could share the up-for-grabs free project with people who aren’t close enough to stop by Powell’s or Bolt and make one in person there. So I’ve added a little bonus to my Etsy shop: if you buy a signed copy of Button It Up, I’ll include a little bonus crafty pack of an assorted buttons grab bag and two blank hairclips to make your first project!
The buttons will be a random mix, not the exact ones I used for the project, so you can make a couple of hairclips and add the rest to your collection… or use some favorites of your own for the clips, and keep the bonus ones for another project!
Anyway, if you’re in Portland I’d love to see you, and if you are not, I’d be happy to send you a little project pack to make yourself some pretty things at home.
Speaking of pretty things, my lovely friend and contributor Amanda Blake Soule (who made this gorgeous Buttony Fabric Cuff and wrote the wonderful book The Creative Family) posted all about her super-fun Tuesday this week…
…she made these fun button projects using some favorites from her collection!
I absolutely love the earrings, and the magnets are awesome — such great combinations. These are the very first Button It Up projects I’ve seen out in the world, which is so cool! I have a huge soft spot for fun, simple projects that just let the buttons shine — the ones you don’t have to order anything special for, or run out to get those last few crucial things, or spend any money at all… you just find that little window of time and put something cool together. A huge thank-you to Amanda for her sweet and generous review post, and for sharing her photos with me!
If you make something you like, I’d love to see it — please add it to the Button It Up flickr pool!
I made a few versions of a button link necklace for CraftStylish this week… row of reds (using a few vintage buttons I especially liked), black and white handmade (using the shrink art buttons I made in last week’s tutorial) and the blue circles and blossoms version from Button It Up. This is a personal favorite of mine: easy to make, easy to wear (if you don’t have an eager baby reaching for it every five seconds), and super-customizable. And I love making spin-off projects, too; I think it’s really fun to see how using different materials or colors changes an idea up so quickly.
The complete tutorial is here and you can check out an archive of all the button-themed projects so far for March — there are some gorgeous ones up for grabs over there! It has been really inspiring to see all these fantastic button crafts.
And in book-related news, I wanted to mention that the two signed copies of Button It Up I posted to benefit the Roy family in Texas sold the first day (thank you!!) and I’ve added a few more to my Etsy shop, in case you want one. (These new copies aren’t part of the fundraiser, but the kits in my shop are, and I’m hoping to do more for it soon, too.) I’ve also been ordering supplies and sorting buttons for my upcoming book events (the first one is Friday, March 20 at Powell’s, and the second one is Saturday, March 28 at Bolt Fabric Boutique), and I’m getting excited for those. Hope some Portland folks can make it out to them!
And Heather of Dollar Store Crafts wrote a nice review and is hosting a giveaway on her lovely blog, starting today! You can enter via comments or on twitter. Thank you, Heather!
I’m going to post about some favorite button shops and sources this week, so please stay tuned if you’re looking for some new treasures…
Yay! CRAFT has posted my Loop-d-Loop Button Curtains as their weekly pattern podcast today! You can see a very sweet write-up and download the pattern and instructions here if you’re interested…
I love this one — it is quick, easy and uses pretty much all things you have around the house. I made mine with cloth napkins but you could also use vintage pillowcases or your favorite stash fabric. And of course the buttons are up to you — I used all assorted black ones (what I now think of as Coraline buttons) but neat loops of identical ones, or a total exuberant mix, would be great too.
There are also two more book giveaways in full swing, thanks to my lovely contributors! Kayte Terry of Love Forever is asking her readers what they’d like to make with buttons, and Kristen Roach of Craft Leftovers would like crafters to send in a letter or postcard and she’ll draw a winner from the mail she gets. So cool, thank you both so much!
Next week I’ll be posting about some of my favorite sources to find good buttons… stay tuned and have a lovely weekend.
Today is the official release date for Button It Up — yay!
Pearl celebrated with me by trying to eat the book! It is hers, after all…
So I just wanted to update about a few button-y things. Now that it’s today and official and all, I’ve added a bunch of new stuff to the site — project extras and patterns like these patterns and tutorials for these three lovely sewing projects,
plus my favorite resources for button shopping and reading-about, and the reviews it’s gotten so far. And I started a button it up flickr group for spotlighting vintage buttons and projects, I’d love it if you wanted to join and share some treasures over there!
I also added two signed copies of Button It Up to my Etsy shop — all the proceeds of these first two copies are to help out Baby Ike and the Roy family. So if you would like a signed copy, I would be very honored if you supported the fundraiser. (Rachel just posted about some really cool crafty things folks are doing near and far too!)
And I’m so pleased that some of my favorite sites are doing very generous giveaways. First, Button Sampler Tote designer Diane Gilleland is offering up a copy: tell her a button story by Wednesday at noon and you’re entered to win! I love the comments people have left so far. Awesome.
Natalie at CRAFT: did such a nice review + giveaway too — leave a comment letting her know why you need your own copy of Button It Up by 10 am Wednesday and you could win one of two copies!
And Michaela at CraftStylish wrote an absolutely lovely post welcoming the book, with a special spotlight on the projects my fellow CraftStylish writers Diane, Kayte, and Linda created. Leave a comment by next Tuesday and you could win a copy there too!
Last, a huge thank-you to Rachel Hobson of Average Jane Crafter for her thoughtful and generous review of the book today! I am so grateful that people are enjoying the projects and the photography and illustrations, but it means the world to me that people like the me-parts — the vintage button history I really enjoyed writing up, and the button-love itself.
I’m so happy that CraftStylish is celebrating Button It Up with an entire month of button-themed craft projects! Such a cool surprise.
I did the very first how-to, a fun little set of shrink art buttons, and there will be dozens more all through March.
My lovely guest designer Sally Shim is also hosting a book giveaway on her Shim + Sons blog, so be sure to stop by and comment by Friday, March 6. Sally made the gorgeous pencil canister and magnets set… I love that one!
Susan is a true button aficionado. Button it Up begins with a sweet introduction from her about her button memories as a child, playing with both of her grandmothers’ button stashes. As I was getting ready to write this post, I looked back on some of Susan’s old West Coast Crafty posts about this book, and I was struck by how many comments on this post in particular connected with a similar memory. It seems that there is something nearly universal about a childhood fascination with buttons, and this book is a warm reminder of that.
If you’re familiar with Susan’s jewelry-making book, Bead Simple (a well put together and highly approachable book, if you’re interested in jewelry making), you’ll appreciate that Button it Up follows a similar format–lots of great “recipes” (that’s how I think of them) for making unique projects, this time using buttons. This is definitely one of the strengths of the book — it gives you all the tools you need to unleash your own creativity — not simply replicate a project from the book.
I think Button it Up would be a great resource for a crafty afternoon with friends or family — have a potluck, bring some buttons to trade and share and use this book to create some fun, affordable, one-of-a-kind projects together.
Tags: book reviews
and miss james and essymar won button stashes!
Thank you so much to everyone who commented — your button stories and ideas and tips were really wonderful to read! So many of us fell in love with buttons as kids, and reading about other people’s favorite childhood memories of playing with buttons was such a treat, and so familiar too.
And I’m so excited that my dear friend and guest contributor Diane of CraftyPod posted the first-ever review of Button It Up today! She was kind enough to say, “I had a little glimpse into the making of this book, and got to watch Susan acquire insanely-beautiful buttons from all kinds of sources. I think that’s part of the fun of Button It Up – not only are the projects wonderful, you also get a huge dose of button eye-candy. Yum yum.” Thank you, Diane!
And right after that, I saw this lovely review from the Buffalo News, written by Home & Style Editor Susan Martin — a wonderful surprise. Thank you, Susan!