button holiday decorations!

December 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Posted in button projects to do, buttons!, chatty, crafty | 1 Comment

Hello! I can’t believe it’s been a year since I last posted, also just before the holidays, but I guess it has. I’ve been pretty busy finishing two new craft books and meeting our brand-new baby (Everett!) – so the months have just flown by without much time to do button crafts, let alone write about them. But this week I am happy to have my mom in town to cuddle the baby and read books to Pearl, so I’ve gotten a chance to do a few Christmas-y button projects too.

holly button decoration

I made three batches of Christmas cookies this month: peanut butter kisses, sugar cookies (from The Christmas Table cookbook), and coconut-almond brownies. So many of our Portland friends have been so thoughtful since Everett arrived, and I wanted to send along a little box of cookies with my thank-you notes.

my Christmas cookies

One lucky find of a box of soft, velvety holly leaves later, I had a super-simple decoration in mind to decorate my cookie gift boxes. All you need for this mini-project is a box or bag to decorate, a red button, two green leaves (I found mine premade at Paper Zone, but you could use vintage leaves, or cut them out of fabric or paper), and double-stick tape. Just use small pieces of tape to secure your leaves to the box, and then add a favorite button right over the join with another piece of tape.

holly button decoration

This way, your recipient can reuse the holly decoration when she recycles the box… but if you’re decorating something nicer (like a metal or glass canister to save), you could use hot glue instead of tape for a more permanent bond.

finished winter wonderland ornament with ribbon rosette

I also made some winter wonderland ornaments using this lovely tutorial (I posted lots more about these with more photos on West Coast Crafty) and added a little button-ribbon rosette embellishment to those, too. This one is just as simple to do – all you need is a couple inches of light green ribbon (I used 1/8-inch satin ribbon from the craft store), a red button, and a hot glue gun.

making the ribbon rosette

First, fold the ribbon in half like an upside-down V (or the bottom section of a prize ribbon) and add a dab of hot glue right where you want the rosette to go. I added mine off-center on the rick-rack edging at the base of the ornament. Press the folded ribbon into the dab of glue, right at the fold, and let it set.

making the ribbon rosette

Add another dab of hot glue at the fold and press your button into that. Trim your ribbon edges as short as you’d like (I cut mine at an angle) and you’re all set!

finished winter wonderland ornament with ribbon rosette

Hope you have lovely holidays! I’ll be back much, much sooner next time…


tiny-eyed owl ornaments!

December 17, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Posted in button projects to do, buttons!, crafty, project extras | 3 Comments

Thank you to everyone who came to the button hairclip demo at Crafty Wonderland! It was a wild success — I brought zillions of buttons and 288 (!) blank hairclips with me, and left with about a quarter of the buttons and about a dozen clips. It was super fun and I got some fantastic handmade things at the sale, too.

Speaking of free button projects, I wanted to share one I came up with last Christmas — I miniature-ized the Big-Eyed Owl into a teeny little ornament to decorate with — the Tiny-Eyed Owl! Here are the ones I made for an ornament swap with some crafty friends:

Big-Eyed Owl Christmas ornament

They’re very simple to make — here’s how to get started whipping up your own Tiny-Eyed Owl ornament!

You’ll need remnants of felt in two colors, a tiny triangle of brown felt (or you can embroider a tiny beak), two 1/2-inch covered buttons in a contrast fabric, a six-inch piece of ribbon, a puff of batting, scissors, sewing machine or needle and thread, and a small bead or button.

1. Using the instructions for the Big-Eyed Owl project on page 163 of Button It Up and the owl template here, adapt the same general owl shape into a tiny, 3-inch tall version. I cut mine out of newspaper. Pin the mini-pattern to two layers of felt in color #1 and cut it out.

2. Pin your two pieces of felt together. Double the ribbon into a loop and tuck the raw edges into the top of the owl’s head (it will become the ornament hanger, as you can see in the photos). Hand- or machine-stitch most of the way around the perimeter of the owl, catching the ribbon ends inside the seam at the top and leaving a small opening at the bottom for stuffing.

3. Tuck the batting inside the owl so it’s nice and plump and pin and stitch the opening closed. Sew the covered-button eyes on and glue or embroider the beak below them.

4. Now cut a strip of felt in color #2 (mine was 7 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide) and fringe the edges to make a little scarf — you can see the fringe in the photos. Wrap it around the owl, securing it in the back with a few little hand-stitches, and cross it in the front as shown. Secure it with a little button or bead — I used alphabet beads with each friend’s initial.

5. Give it to a friend (it would also look very cute adorning a wrapped gift or ribbon-ed bag) or hang it on the tree!

Big-Eyed Owl Christmas ornament

If you happen to make any Tiny-Eyed Owl ornaments of your own, I would love to see them — please add photos to the Button It Up flickr pool.

I have a few other quick and easy holiday craft project ideas up today, too, if you’d like to check those out:

Carnelian and Black Agate Earrings over at Bead Simple,

earrings for Pearl's teachers

and Tiny Ribboned Gift Bags to put them in, over at West Coast Crafty.

Little gift bags for earrings

Hope you enjoy them and that you have wonderful holidays! Thank you for the very kind support for my little button book in 2009 and I will see you in the new year with more buttons and projects!

Halloween buttons

October 29, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Posted in button projects to do, buttons!, crafty | 1 Comment

I made my daughter Pearl a Yoda costume for Halloween — starting with a hat from Heather Mann’s fantastic and easy tutorial, and dipped into my stash to pick out a set of brown buttons for his eyes.

Yoda Pearl

I actually made three versions of the hat, in baby, small toddler and big toddler sizes. So cute.

three Yoda hats - baby, little toddler, big toddler

I also made my Yoda a companion snake, and got to use some favorite vintage white moonglows for that too!

Yoda and his snake

The entire Yoda costume tutorial is here on the CRAFT: blog if you want to check it out.

Meanwhile, Craftster member thestamppit made this incredible Coraline “Other Mother” costume for Dragon*Con, covering her eyes with buttons. I wrote a bit more about it over at Geek Crafts, and the Craftster thread on ideas for the costume is over here.


If you used buttons on your Halloween costume, or spotted a good one someone else made, I’d love to hear about it!

bead + button jewelry in the summer of making

June 5, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Posted in book events, button events, buttons!, crafty, vintage treasures | 1 Comment

I’m very happy to be teaching a new jewelry-making class as part of the Summer of Making next month at the wonderful PNCA here in Portland!

summer of making

The Continuing Education department has put together a fantastic line-up of classes, and they’re offering a very generous giveaway this week if you help spread the word about them

Button It Up - cover!

from the blog:
We have a nice package of promotional items to give away. This includes a signed copy of Susan Beal’s Button It Up, Denyse Schmidt’s Quilt-It Kit, a yard of County Fair, Patchwork Promenade Print by Denyse Schmidt and a Summer of Making Poster. To win leave a comment on the blog, become a fan of Summer of Making on Facebook or mention us on your Facebook profile or blog. You will get one entry for each of these (maximum of 4). We will randomly select the winner June 21.

I am very honored to be one of the teachers alongside some of my favorite crafters. Denyse Schmidt is coming to teach a two-day workshop, which I am so excited to take! Jess Beebe is teaching By Hand: Needlework and Macrame, Sarah Schlosser-Moon is teaching Artful Blogging, Brenda Mallory is teaching Contemporary Fiber Art, and I am teaching Bead and Button Jewelry.

mending jewelry: tools and materials

I’m so excited about this class. We’ll have four days to work on jewelry, beading and embellishment techniques of all types, a luxurious amount of time to make things! Bead + Button Jewelry meets Monday through Thursday, July 20-23 from 10-3 in a nice big classroom with natural light at PNCA — all the details are here.

my finds from The Needle

from the website:
In this hands-on class, students will learn and practice a range of beading, jewelry-making and embellishment techniques, including wirework, stringing, weaving, knotting, gluing, hand-sewing, and other craft methods. Bring in your own favorite pieces to design around, complementing them with vintage and new beads, buttons, findings, chain, fabric, and other materials from Susan’s collection.

vintage beads for earrings - black white + red

Aside from the nuts and bolts of practical making, we’ll focus on color, balance, arrangements, and intuitive design – creating a collection of jewelry and other crafts that bring your treasures to life. With four days to work together, we’ll create a collection of instant favorites for gifts or for yourself, while building a strong foundation for designing future projects with your new skills.

buttons in search of their hairclips

The projects we create will reflect each student’s personal sense of style and other favorite elements – instead of a cookie-cutter approach, each designer will enjoy the flexibility to focus on what he or she prefers.

Pages from Bead Simple

If you want to know more about any of the classes, you can download a syllabus for each one on its page at the Summer of Making site. And if you have any questions about mine in particular, please ask away over here!

vintage beads for earrings - brights

One last thing: if you are interested in taking Bead + Button Jewelry, I would be thrilled to have some crafty friends in the class. If anyone who registers mentions that they read my blog or either of my book sites (or have checked out my flickr, or know me through Portland stuff) I will put together a special package of vintage beads and buttons as a thank-you! You can leave a comment here or just let me know the first day of class, and I’ll put something fun together with some of your favorite colors and styles and bring it for you to craft with the second day and beyond.

p.s. I’m cross-posting this announcement on West Coast Crafty and Bead Simple, so sorry for the exact repetition if you see it more than once, but since the class ties together techniques from both of my books, I’d like to spread the word in all directions!

more giveaways and a whole month of button projects!

March 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Posted in book reviews, buttons!, contributor news, crafty | Leave a comment

I’m so happy that CraftStylish is celebrating Button It Up with an entire month of button-themed craft projects! Such a cool surprise.

Button It Up month on CraftStylish!

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 finished shrink art buttons

Keep an eye on CraftStylish for some wonderful craft book giveaways all month, including copies of Button It Up. A huge thank-you to my editor there, Michaela Murphy, for organizing the button love!

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!

And Sarah Schlosser-Moon of Sewer-Sewist wrote a fantastic review of the book this weekend too. I especially loved these parts:

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.

Thank you, Sarah and Sally!

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