I have used buttons as clasps and even as earrings.  See links below for button clasp ideas.  The shank ones are especially useful as the beauty of the buttons is not punctuated by holes.  

If the buttons are stunning enough, they can be used as focals as I did for this tagua frame and leather macrame necklace I made several years ago :

Here's a cool idea dating back to the 18th century. You can work with just a basic button or wood form and give it the wow factor by making thread wrapped buttons. Fortunately, the art of thread wrapping buttons is not dead. This beautiful example was made in a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This type of buttons were commonly made before the advent of modern machined button making.  The distinctive wrapping of linen threads in a wheel and spoke style was known as Dorset buttons (1622-1850)- named after a county in England. 

The curiously named Death Head buttons are a subset of Dorset buttons. They have distinctive geometric patterns. No one knows how they got their name. They were mostly used in men's frock coats although women sometimes had them in their clothing. 

Watch this video on how to make your own Death Head buttons, demonstrated by Canadian historical costume enthusiast, Vincent Briggs. He studied fashion and textiles in college. He loves making 18th century menswear, dressing in them and shares details of the construction. 

His attention to detail is admirable as well as the sheer amount of research he does before he even drafts the patterns. He usually makes late 18th century menswear but he did make a costume from the earlier in the 1700's.  Watch his Getting Dressed in a Gentleman's 1730 suit. No wonder button making was the thing back then because men wore a lot of buttons (47 buttons and 79 buttonholes)! See his blog post about the suit in detail. He doesn't have a wig but he powdered and pomaded his own hair and dressed it in the style of the day.

I agree with him, the adjustable waist at the back of the pants should be in modern clothes because you can let out or in the pants whenever needed.

N.B. In the past, high status men and women their nails long - a sign of nobility and wealth. They want to show off  they didn't have to do hard labor and had servants at their bidding. 

You can purchase the book mentioned in the first video - Death Button : Their Use and Construction By Norman H. Fuss, on Amazon or through Burnley and Trowbridge - a historical costume supplier based in Virginia.

Not keen on making them yourself ? Here are some rare finds - not many people make them for sale these days. These are all made by the Ukrainian historical costumer and corset maker, Elizabeth-Iryna of theboudoirkey.

Before You Go :

jewelry making supplies


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM