The simplest repair and/or upcycle for thrifted items is changing out buttons. If you can’t make it to the Mecca of unique and antique buttons, Tender Buttons in New York City, don’t despair. Fabulous buttons can be yours wherever you live — thanks to internet ordering. Some of our favorite long-distance button sources are:
Benno’s Buttons in Dallas, Texas, whose website has a useful search function that allows you to find exactly that button you are missing. (bennosbuttons.com)
M & J Trimming in New York City’s Garment District has an excellent website and ships buttons, appliqués, ribbons, belt buckles, frog closures, etc., worldwide. (mjtrim.com)
Pacific Trimming is another NYC Garment District shop with a good website in both English and Spanish. Its wide selection of buttons include handmade glass versions. (pacifictrimming.com)
And, as experienced thrifters know, it’s always possible to buy a secondhand shirt or a blazer simply for its buttons — to snip off and use on another item.
We found this Canadian made JS Collections dressy acetate/polyester muted check jacket for a bargain $3 at our favorite south Los Angeles thrift store, Central Thrift, but were not thrilled about the rhinestone buttons.
They made the jacket look very mother-of-the-bride-y. Another problem was that there were a few missing rhinestones.
We could have glued in replacement rhinestones (you can find them in various sizes at craft stores and fabric shops), but thought that a less showy button would mean we could wear the jacket to less dressy events, like in the workplace.
On a “Downtown Digging” trip to the L.A. Fabric District organized by the amazing fabric/bead/antique French paper and notions store French General (check out its classes and offerings at frenchgeneral.com), Allison had bought beautiful vintage Czechoslovakian glass buttons, still on the original cards, at Bead Factory at 812 Maple Ave. They looked to be from the late 1950s or early 1960s, and were priced at $4 and $5 per card of 24. (See the seven cards of buttons she bought at the top of this post.) But they were too small for the jacket.
So she went to her standby L.A. Fabric District store, Michael Levine, and found these silver architectural-looking buttons in the correct diameter at $1.40 each. (They also came in gold.)
For less than $5, she quickly gave the jacket a cool, less formal new look.