Friday, November 17, 2006

So you wanna make a button tree?

First, Jack is sick and I am not too hot myself, so, if it seems like I have missed anything obvious, please let me know. Second, yes, it took me at least 8 hours. I know, it doesn't seem like it should take so long, but it did.

Ok, you are going to need: band-aids, there will likely be blood drawn, no one can use 700 pins without a few sticks, can they?; a styrofoam cone, mine is approximately 9 inches tall; corsage pins (fancy pearl headed pins) at least 200; silk pins (tiny silver pins with flat heads) at least 500; buttons, somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 buttons, this works out to be nearly a pound I think; other assorted baubles like rhinestones, vintage earrings, etc.; glass beads of all shapes and sizes, including seed beads, all told you need as many glass beads as buttons (that is my bead collection above to give you an idea of what I used); pearls, however many floats your boat, but I will tell you my tree didn't look the same until I went crazy with the pearls; a piece of fabric to cover the cone, I used pink; tweezers if your buttons still have pieces of thread, fabric, metal, etc, stuck to them; and a piece of wool felt large enough to make a skirt for the bottom.

Optional: glue of some sort. I didn't glue mine, partly because I am non-committal, partly because some glues will make it hard to push the pins in, and partly because it would have taken even longer!

If it seems like a lot of stuff, it is! I am lucky in that I have most of that stuff lying around my sewing room, so I only had to buy pins and a cone.

Wrap the cone in fabric. I just did it willy nilly and pinned the excess on the top and bottom down. Pin along the side seam of the fabric also.

Start sticking on buttons with the silk pins. In order to keep most of the buttons on you will need to first put a bead on the pin, then the button. You could skip the beads if your buttons have teeny tiny holes, but, none of mine did. I did the first layer of buttons in all white buttons, trying to keep larger ones near the bottom, and smaller ones near the top. Getting the first layer done took about 4 hours, but, I did have to remove threads from some of my buttons.

Start cursing this stupid project and swearing that next time you will just pay the $50.

Start sticking on the second layer of buttons, this time using all your special buttons, earrings and other bits and bobs. Use the corsage pins and/or the silk pins with prettier beads, because you will be able to see the pins from this layer. I tried to put the second layer of buttons in the "in between places" from the first layer, where my fabric was still showing.

Stop every 10 minutes and beg your husband to keep your toddler out of the precious buttons. Swear to said baby that you will buy him more buttons.

Once you have crammed as many buttons as you can on there, stick on at least 20 more! Then go back and fill in the still empty looking spaces with pearls and rhinestones. Choose something for a tree topper. Curse as you try and figure how to attach said topper. Mine is an earring, so I used a pearl headed pin and put the pearl inside the clip part of the earring.

Cut out a scalloped skirt for the bottom, mine is held on with permanent double stick tape. Stick it on a candy dish of some sort and viola! Your own hard earned button tree.

* If you have shank buttons, you will have to use the tweezers to bend the silk pins.

**If you make a tree, let me know! I want to see them.


  1. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I can vouch for the fact the blood, more than one might expect, was drawn and spilled during completion of the button tree. - Jack's Dad

  2. Thank you so much! I have been checking back constantly since yesterday to see if you had posted instructions yet...Yes, I'm a little obsessive! I even went to JoAnn's last night to look at the pins. I found pearl-headed sewing pins but didn't think to look in the floral section for corsage pins. I'm going back tomorrow to buy the stuff now that I have a shopping list!

    FWIW, I went on eBay to look at the prices of the ones you mentioned and I have to say that I like your version WAY better than the others posted! Honestly it seemed like they just had SO MUCH STUFF on them that it was too much. Yours has a nice balance between abundance and overkill that I hope mine will also achieve.

    Thanks so much for writing out all the instructions! I can't wait! :)

  3. It sounds like agony making that tree! I have lots of old jewelry that I would like to make use of. I will see how it goes. I am going to have a look at the ones on ebay now. I love the little Fenton dish yours is sitting in!

  4. Oh my goodness, your instructions had me giggling....starting out with first you will need :)

    I love your tree!! It's gorgeous and worth the blood you put into :)

  5. This is gorgeous!!! Maybe I will have some time .....hopefully... to give it a whirl. Your colors are just stunning!

  6. Anonymous5:02 PM

    I've peeked at the button trees on eBay, and I think you've used twice as many buttons as those sellers have! That's why your tree is the most awesome of all :)

  7. Yeah! I am going to try it. I mean any project that involves so much cursing is definately up my alley ha ha . . .

    Seriously though, I am going to do it. I'm a bit obsessed with all things topiary these days. Plus I have that rather large button collecttion hmm . . .

  8. Wow!! This is amazing!! I so want to try this . . oh boy no time .. . maybe I can get one donw for next year! :) LOL! Thanks for sharing the directions!

  9. Hi Sarah,
    I've been admiring your button tree and have been thinking of making one with my mom who has alzheimers. It would be nice to sit and do an activity with her that she could actually participate in. I need to collect the buttons but at least NOW I KNOW what to buy! Thank you so much! I'm a little aprehensive about the bandaid thing....were you being serious? I don't want my poor mom bleeding all over the place! Also...did the pins stick in the styrofoam easily? It seems like they'd slip right out...but maybe the fabric helps with that? Geeze..sorry to ramble!

  10. LOL! Just read the comment from "jacks dad!"

  11. I did this backwards -- made the tree, then looked to see who else made one!

    You asked to see:

    Dotty Pants Button Tree

    Nell Jean


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