Thursday, October 23, 2008

DIY button cuffs and my button passion

I simply am crazy about buttons, always have been. They are my faux jewels, my carefree, downtown chic accessory. I pile them on - they are never garish or boring - but soaked in nostalgia, history and imagination. Each button has its own story, where I found it, or who gave it to me, or what I cut it off and I’m always on the hunt. I first laid eyes on Schiaparelli’s legendary insect buttons as a student at the costume archives at the Met and FIT, where they were generously brought out for us to examine, and which are paradise to button lovers, but never to be seen except in museums. But I have always adored buttons (and also buckles, zips, and other hardware) since childhood rummaging through my mom’s collection of mix matched, lost and found, to ones I found as a student, designer or a notions lover, in shops, like Tender Buttons in NYC, La Droguerie in Paris, or any other number of miscellaneous notion shops I where ever I find myself. I store them in big plastic boxes (so I can see what I have and keep them dust free) by color and type, and then put my- favorites of the moment- in cigar boxes, valentine’s chocolate boxes, wicker containers, cookie tins which are as whimsical and diverse as the buttons.
With little monies and little time you can create decorative, interesting style and have quite a lot of fun. I made a pair of denim based cuffs loaded with buttons and am wearing them all the time, dressed up and down. They look terrific because they are a PAIR, and the colors and textures are so swimmy. Here is the DIY DNA.

2 strips of denim 8”x 3” or to fit smoothly around your wrist with a 1” overlap
2 pieces of lining fabric, 1” longer and 1”wider than your denim strips (I used navy pinstriped silk)
2 pieces of iron-on interfacing same size as the lining
4 x ½” diameter snaps
Assorted buttons
2 x 2 ¾”x2” buckles
Thread to match denim
Straight pins, sewing needle, scissors

Prepare the denim:
Machine wash, dry and press the denim (so you have frayed edges)

Attach the buttons and buckles:
Slip one buckle through each strip of denim.
Lay the denim strip on the table. Place a large button on top of the buckle and then scatter and play with your other buttons until you have a color/texture/size balance that you love.
Stitch on the buttons, using a long continuous double thread and knot securely after each button.
Construct the cuff:
Press the interfacing to the back side of the lining.
Fold the edge of the lining back ½” all around and pin it to the denim with back sides facing.
Baste, remove pins and hand stitch all around the edge. Remove basting.
Catch the buckle through the denim and lining, and stitch it firmly in place.
Fold cuff around your wrist and mark overlap.
Sew two snaps securely at each overlap.

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