More Buttons, More Needles

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I have a weak spot for vintage glass buttons and needles. I know I’ve shared some of my finds with you before, but here are few new additions to my steadily growing collection.


These 1/2″ wide shank-back blue buttons are pressed glass with a rose motif in the center. The rose has a hint of gold paint brushed over it, and the edges are faceted. Most of the time when I find vintage glass buttons, they come in an odd number. I’m happy to have eight of these though.


I don’t know why I picked up these jeweled glass and brass buttons. Jewels aren’t something I usually go after. But, I think these could be stunning on a black dress to add a bit of unexpected shine. When am I going to either sew or wear a black dress anytime soon? Psssh. I have no idea.


I am in love with these tiny 3/8″ wide ruby red buttons. They need to be cleaned up a bit though. The dark build-up in the button crevices may be paint, but I can’t quite tell. It easily scrapes off, so I’ll probably clean it out with the head of a needle to make them look nicer. In a weird way, they remind me of strawberry Jell-O.

VintageButtons-redHglassThese red round buttons came in the same bag as the ruby ones, but the two sets obviously aren’t meant to be used together. There is a little bit of silver paint on one of the buttons, but I don’t think the ones with “H” motif ever had any silver on them.


So where do I keep all of these? Honestly, I put them all in a Ball jar, until my collection outgrew it. While Rob and I were looking in an antique store in Washington, I saw this cookie jar and knew it would work perfectly as a button jar. Now my hand fits in it and I don’t have to dump the whole jar to get to the buttons on the bottom!

Looking through old buttons reminds me of both of my grandmothers. I remember seeing their button tins and jars and wondering how on earth anyone ever came to collect so many buttons! My mother’s mother gave me her button collection when I was fairly young. It was in an old toffee tin, and many years before, my mother and her sister had used a needle to carve things like “Joni loves Rick” and “Susan loves Tim” all over it. I’ll have to see if I can get my mom to bring it with her on her next visit so I can add those buttons to my jar.

My brother knows I love old sewing notions, and he gave me two really amazing vintage needle books for Christmas, along with a beautiful sewing machine print.




For me, finding antique needles that are still useable is like finding gold. I’ve written about how different vintage needles are from modern ones before, so I’m very happy to have more of them available for hand sewing.


I really like this steam engine needle book. It’s printed with a silver paint, and even the needle books inside are coated with a shiny foil finish. Some of the larger needles are 3″ long and still very sharp!


Who out there collects sewing notions, and do you ever post about them? I love looking at vintage patterns and notions that other seamstresses find, so please let me know if you have any fun acquisitions to share!

  • Wow! These are really, really beautiful! The needle books are especially amazing! I inherited a bunch of old shirt buttons (nothing fancy, all really plain) that belonged to my mother-in-law’s great-aunt. The funny thing was that they were all stored in vintage Ex-Lax tins, haha! I have some photos in a post from a few years back:

    • I know! I always buy up needle books and antique needles when I find them. The packaging is always awesome and you can’t buy that kind of quality anymore.

      Those Ex-Lax tins are HILARIOUS! I bet she never thought anyone would see or want her buttons, and much less post about how she stored them for the world to see! 😉

  • I’m all about living with as little as possible, but when it comes to vintage, I think it’s okay to hoard. I have a couple of the needle books and I think they’re fascinating. Why don’t needles come like that anymore?!?

    • Me too! I’m okay with hoarding vintage because I honestly use these buttons and needles, regardless of how old they are.

      I think that they did a reprint of needle books a little while back. Of course, they weren’t nearly as cool as the old ones, and the needles weren’t as high quality either. Find the originals and snatch ’em up!

  • Angie M

    Ok. The next time I’m at the antique warehouse I’m looking for needles! Hmmm….I sent you a postcard a couple weeks ago – did it get there? (c/o M.D.) 🙂

    • Yes, you should! I love using antique needles much more than modern ones.

      And yes, I got your postcard. Thank you! That was very sweet of you to think of me while spending time with Mickey. 😉 I hope you had fun!

  • Karen

    Hi, I too love old buttons and needle books. Love your idea using a cookie jar for your buttons. My are in a mason and it is full. Will be on the look out for a cookie jar. How do you store or display your needle books? I several of them and not sure what to do with them. Thanks.

    • I haven’t decided how to display the needle books yet. I have a few vintage nylon mending kits that I put into a shadow box to display, but I don’t think I want to do that with the needle books. I want to be able to get to and use the needles!

      I’m going to think on it for a while and I’ll let you know if I come up with something cute. Please tell me if you have any ideas!

  • nelda johnson

    I too love buttons and old needles. Sometimes the old needles seem to have a rough spot like rust where they were stored in the paper. Do you know if I can I use steel wool to remove the roughness, or are they ruined?

    • I think it depends on how rusty they are. I’m not sure if steel wool will remove the rust and make the needle smooth again, but a crocus cloth might. You can sometimes buy from the jewelers, but they can also be found online. They are used for metal polishing, so it would work better than the steel wool.

  • mad

    I have the buttons from my mother, my grandmother and my great aunt. They kept them, I was told, because in the Depression, no one had money to buy new. So shirt collars were turned, cuffs were turned. And when the garment wore out it became a quilt and the buttons were cut off to use in the next garment.

    • I have a pretty good stash of family buttons, but they are at my parent’s house. I will have to look for them when we go back to visit soon. I remember some pretty fancy ones in that old toffee tin!

  • Elaine Boser

    I have been collecting buttons of all shapes, colours and make. I am using them for crafts. I just finished a baby shower gift with a canvas painted in Teal and words painted in black. The words say “Cute as a Button”. They are in 3 lines with Cute on top, as a in the middle and Button as the third line. I then hot glue numerous buttons in all colours and shapes over the painted word Button. I also have a large Art Deco button which I weave some lace ribbon through and hot glue it at the very top. My niece loved the piece and will put it in her baby girls nursery. I am now going to make one for my Granddaughter. I am collecting more buttons and hope to find some really pretty glass pastel coloured buttons. I plan to do a lot of other craft pieces using buttons.

  • Elaine Boser

    As well as buttons I like to collect antique sewing, tatting crochet and knitting items. I recently purchased an amazing set of items that are well over a hundred years. I have a crochet hook in 3 pieces and tiny case. The entire piece is about 3 inches long. I also got some beautiful ivory knitting needles and very old sharp thread scissors. I plan to put these and a few other items together in a shadow box. I used to knit for a shop where we carded and died our own wool and made gorgeous items. I think this shadow box will bring me many memories of the beautiful work I used to do. Now my knuckles are too swollen and damaged to be able to do much in the way of needle work.

    • I’m sorry to hear you aren’t able to do much needle work anymore. Your collection of items sounds lovely though! I really wish that I had purchase a tiny thimble case I saw a long time ago. It looked like a brass walnut, but when you opened it up, it was a velvet lined thimble case. I still regret letting that one go!