DIY Avant-Garde Artistic Button-Embellished Top

Inspired by the original DIY’er, Martin Margiela, I’ve dipped into my overflowing stash of mismatched buttons to craft a fabulously avant-garde-style t-shirt. I’m using an old shirt that I was considering discarding because of a couple tiny stains on the front.  But that’s what DIY’s for!  Cover up stains, patching, pilling, or a design you don’t like…or add interest to an otherwsie boring piece.  There’s a ton of great art and photos out on the internet – or you can create your own image and use it as a template for button placement.  I chose monochromatic buttons so that the image would appear “pixellated” when standing from afar – and though I chose to make an eye (in my own homage to Salvador Dali), you could make anything your heart desires.

You Need:

t-shirt*large number of buttons in various sizes and shapes (preferably in shades of black, white, and gray)  //  Jewel-It Embellishing Glue (or other glue for affixing plastic embellishments to fabric)  //  piece of cardboard or t-shirt board


printout, drawing, or photo  //  tape  //  sewing machine & needle for knits  // hand-sewing needle  //  thread matching buttons

How To:

Prep Time

1. Pre-wash t-shirt if it hasn’t been washed already.  Place cardboard or t-shirt board inside t-shirt to flatten front.2. (Optional) If you are using a piece of artwork as a template, slide it inside your tee, just on top of the board. Secure with tape.



3. Now’s the time to channel your inner artiste!  Place tee on a flat surface and start covering it with buttons.  Start with the black outlines, then place the brightest white buttons on the brightest white parts of the eye.  (You’ll probably spend a lot of time squinting at your picture.)  Stand back every few minutes to see if you like the effect, and adjust your placement as necessary.

Make it Permanent

4. When you’re pleased with your button artwork, now you need to take each button off and affix it to the t-shirt.  For the larger buttons add a daub of glue to its back; for the smaller dot glue onto the shirt itself.  If you plan to go back and sew your buttons for more security – be careful you don’t get any glue in the buttonholes.  (If you are using shanked buttons, you’ll have to hand-sew them on to the shirt.)

5. After you’ve glued all your buttons down, allow the glue to dry per the instructions.

6. (Optional) Remove board from tee, and proceed to sew all the buttons down to the front of your shirt.  (Drop the sewing machine’s feed dogs, and zigzag into 2 holes of each button – which should be secure to hold it on and allow you to machine-wash your shirt.)7. Wear and enjoy all the extra attention.  (If you have chosen not to sew your buttons down, follow the washing instructions on the glue.  Some glues are not fast when put in the wash, so be careful when choosing!)


Pair with black and white pieces to make your monochromatic look.  Here’s looking at you, kid!

Thanks for reading – and if you have any questions, ask them in the Comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you out!
Carly J. Cais

as posted on Threadbanger


Leave Comment

Don’t Buy, DIY! Burberry Prorsum Warrior Belt

I know the studded Burberry Prorsum Harlech Studded Warrior Belt has been around for awhile (since Spring 2008, to be exact…and in fact, I wrote an article about how to DIY your own for here). But the fruits of my DIY labors were never posted to FT’s blog, so I decided to post the finished photos and my tute here.

The studded stretchy belt is still so on-trend for Fall ’09…and the edgy, punky look is both bold and glamorous.

Now it’s the unique studs that make this piece – and since despite searching high and low I could not find anything even slightly similar to the diamond-shaped beauties, I settled to create a diamond pattern with 1/4″ pyramid studs procured from ($3.03 for 100 studs is a fricckin’ fabulous deal.)

A trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics and I picked up 1/5 yds (30″) of 1″ wide vinyl belting (sold by the yard on a roll in the trims section), a black plastic parachute buckle, and Loctite glue (for vinyl, plastic, and leather). At Michael’s I found a mixed bag of buttons that had these oversize faux-Grecian faux-silver coin buttons in the pack.

And that’s all you need!

1. Fold one end of the vinyl belting over the parachute buckle connection tab, secure with Loctite glue (I folded under about 1/2″, and used a clothespin to keep the belting pressed together until the glue had dried).

2. Wrap the belting around your waist or where you want to wear your belt, fold around the other connection tab of the parachute buckle. Open up the buckle, trim your belting to have 1/2″ underlap, and glue the underlap together.

3. Now stud! Using an awl, open a hole in the center of your belting on either side of your buckle. (I used sharp scissors when I did this project…and believe me, they are the worst thing to use to open holes to push your studs through!! I figured since the studs’ prongs were flat points, then I should make a slit in the vinyl. WRONG! Use an awl or something to make a ROUND HOLE – and s-t-r-e-t-c-h that vinyl around the prong as you force the stud into the material. Once you fold the prongs over on the wrong side of your belt, the stud will sit properly on the material…whereas if you opened a slit and not a hole in the vinyl, the stud will be loose and the vinyl will “pull” away from the stud resulting in a visible gap. Very bad.) Spread glue on the back of 2 buttons, and push a button through each hole on either side of the buckle.

4. Now estimate the spacing of your embellishments all the way around your belt. (You may have to mark where you want them with chalk or a pen.) Set your stud groupings next to your buttons and keep alternating between embellishments until you’ve covered the whole outside of the belt.

5. To make sure your buttons are DOUBLY secure, thread a jumpring (as large as you got, doesn’t matter what color) through each shank on the wrong side of the belting. Now they should not be able to pull back through their holes, and, like mine, rain down in a trail upon 6th avenue as I hurried to the Bryant Park Tents last Fashion Week.

6. BONUS POINTS: If you’re worried about all the studs’ prongs and button shanks catching on your finer garments on the inside of the belt, glue a strip of fabric (I used poly satin lining) on the inside.

Now I know the original belt is a stretch belt covered in super-thin leather…but who wants to source the leather, sew it into a tube, and thread elastic through it? Especially when there is this el-cheapo belting to be found! The final product is not adjustable, so a little bit of a letdown there.

My sweet little boy.

(Know.Label dress [DIY’ed into a bubble hem], camisole from I forgot, DIY belt, Hue tights,
Maison Gilfy [Japanese brand] shoes)

I love the detail on this dress! (It was only $43 – but it’s not available anymore…but Know.Label has some awesome, incredibly affordable pieces – so check it out if you have time!)

Happy DIY’ing!

Leave Comment

Pin It on Pinterest