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How to Sort a Button Collection

Updated on August 27, 2013
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge enjoys reading and writing about new (and sometimes old) craft and decoration ideas.

Don't keep those buttons in a tin or box, sort them for ease of reference or for a great looking display.
Don't keep those buttons in a tin or box, sort them for ease of reference or for a great looking display. | Source

Tips for the Beginning Button Collector

Buttons are everywhere! You can find buttons in packages at thrift stores and flea markets, and sold in bulk at craft stores. And if you don’t want to spend money for your collections, ask your grandmother or older friend if you could look through some of their spare buttons. You’ll likely find something that interest you, and could find exactly what your collection was missing.

Beginners might feel a little overwhelmed when trying to sort their collection. While there is no necessarily right or wrong way to sort your button collection you might feel conflicted about some of your sorting techniques. Take it slow, work in broad groups first, and then you can get more specific as you go along. While you might be tempted to store their buttons in a large tin, sorting and categorizing the buttons allows to you better enjoy what you have, and know where your collection needs more support.

Things You'll Need


Cookie sheet

Muffin pan lined with paper cups

Baby food jars


Carefully pour your buttons onto a towel-covered cookie sheet. This allows you to view and sort your buttons at one time, with less likelihood of dropping any buttons on the floor.

Polish buttons carefully with a soft cloth, avoid cleaning with water as much as possible. Keep in mind that metal buttons and buttons with cardboard backing may disintegrate if exposed to water. Discard buttons that are beyond repair and have lost all value.

Sort your buttons into initial broad categories based upon their materials-- metal, plastic or fabric-covered buttons—and then get more specific later. Keep plastic and metal buttons apart from each other to prevent damaging the buttons. Consider putting all unique buttons, or buttons with more than one category into a container for further inspection later.

Sort your broad categories of buttons into more specific categories, such as shape, size or color. It is likely you’ll have some buttons that fit in more than one category, which is fine. Since it is your collection, there is no wrong way to organize the buttons.Try to organize the buttons the in what seems more logical to you, after all- you’ll be the person enjoying the buttons the most.

Store buttons in small baby food jars with lids, so you don’t spill the contents accidentally.


Serious button collectors mount their buttons on mat boards so they can see exactly what they have. Although you can cut your own boards, the National Button Society has strict rules on the proper way to mount buttons.


“Busy with Buttons”; Jill Gorski; 2009

Buttons In Time: Resources for the New Collector

Bead & Button: Sew You’ve Decided to Collect Buttons


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