Refreshing an old coat by recovering the buttons

I’ve had this DKNY coat for several years. When I bought it, the raw edges were trimmed with pleather as were the buttons. After a few years, the pleather bias tape began peeling. I still liked the coat so I removed all the bias trim and replaced it with premade black bias tape I found at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. It was a synthetic fabric that had a sheen to it that make it somewhat similar to the pleather – and hopefully would last a bit longer. That was my first go at refreshing an old coat.

DKNY coat with covered buttons

A few years later, the pleather on the buttons was peeling and looked rather unsightly. So it was time for another refresh – this time it would be the buttons. Nearly all of themlooked like this:

worn out coat button

I bought a 1/4 yard of some very nice Italian polyester from Britex Fabrics. I thought I could pry apart the buttons and replace the pleather.

But they were custom buttons with a plastic backing. I couldn’t pry them apart without damaging the back. I used pliers and tried to coax the pieces apart but they wouldn’t budge. Darn.

Plastic button back

The other alternative was to purchase covered buttons and make new ones. I like covered buttons (see the covered butons I made for a top). However, these buttons weren’t a standard size. They were about 1 3/8 inches (3.5 cm) – in between the standard sizes for covered button kits. The other thing about covered button kits is that the back of the button is silver, which wouldn’t look great. Black is better.

So I opted to cover the original buttons the old-fahsioned way. I cut circles of fabric, hemmed the raw edges by hand and then sewed a gathering stitch. I placed the button in the center of my circle, pulled the threads tight and then stitched around the gathering to ensure that it stayed in place.

Covering coat buttonsn with new fabric by hand -

I’m happy with the way they turned out. It took a couple nights in front of the television to finish. I should also mention that for my first button cover, I cut too large of a circle of fabric. After I gathered the fabrics, the gathering was too close to the button shank. I didn’t have enough room to maneuver my needle to sew the button on.

As you can see below, the button at the botton has too much fabric; the one on top was made with a smaller circle of fabric, leaving enough space for the needle to reach the shank and sew the button on my coat.

Refreshed coat buttons -

Here’s a close-up look at my refreshed buttons. There was one that wasn’t peeling so I left it as is. It’s the one on the left in the second row. I covered six buttons altogether. (One button was missing when I got the coat so I replaced it with a slighter smaller button. It wasn’t a functional button.)

Refreshed coat - covered the buttons with new fabric

And here’s a view of me wearing the coat with my newly covered buttons.

Refreshing an old coat by recovering the buttons

It’s nice when you can refresh an old coat and continue to wear it. Have you refreshed an old garment? What did you do to make it wearable?

Holiday Gifts – Fabric Covered Button Brooches

I saw this post “How to Make a Fabric Button Brooch Tutorial” on Sew Delicious. I immediately thought, “Oh, I have to make some of these. They’ll make great presents!”

You just get some flat-back covered buttons, fabric scraps, pin backs and glue, and voila you’ve got some great holiday gifts.

Pinback with loop to string on a chain

The first thing I did was buy a few pinbacks from Britex Fabrics, the kind that have the little thing that you turn to keep the pin in place. (Britex is just a couple blocks from where I work.) I got the smallest size pinbacks they had (3/4 inch) and I also got a few 1-inch pinbacks that had a loop at the top so you can string the brooch on a necklace. So the brooch can be worn as a pin or hang on a chain.

Britex didn’t have any flat-back covered buttons, only covered buttons with a shank, which makes sense because you can’t sew flat-back button on anything. They are a craft item, not a sewing item.

So I followed Sew Delicious’s advice and searched Etsy. I found plenty of vendors selling flat-back buttons. I ordered a size 45 covered button kit from Cutiestuffs for $3 (link here), which included six size 45 covered buttons. I ordered 100 size 45 flat back buttons for $26 from Yes to Me (direct link), the cheapest price on Etsy – at least as far as I could tell.

Note: The buttons from Yes to Me are for heavy fabric. The buttons arrived in two ziplock bags – rounded fronts in one bag and the backs in another.

I thought she sent me the wrong backs because they didn’t hold the fabric in place. I emailed her and that’s when I found out that they were indeed the correct size but they were for heavy fabric. She also made the excellent point that you can see the metal of the button through lightweight fabric so she suggested doubling the fabric or using a very light batting as backing. I used some white flannel, which worked well with lightweight fabrics. 

I already had a glue gun and I have a huge supply of gluesticks. I have no idea why I bought so many  so many years ago but they sure come in handy when project like these come up.

Here’s what the back of a completed fabric covered button brooch looks like. The ones pictured above are for my nieces and nephew. These are fun and easy to make and a great way to use up fabric scraps!