Skull Art with Vintage Buttons

Skull Art with Vintage Buttons

Here I am again, pulling out a project from the Sadie Archives. You see, this skull art I made with a thrifted embroidery hoop and some vintage buttons never made it onto my blog. It dates back to 2014 and it’s taken me nearly 10 years to dig it back out for publishing.

Sigh. It happens. Sometimes I run out of time to post a project, sometimes I second guess if it’s good enough to share on the blog, etc.

But, we’re actually dealing with some medical issues at home and my attention has been on my husband, not the blog. He had gall bladder removal surgery earlier this week.

So, an archives post was the perfect thing to publish this week. It started out because even back then, I had a love of crafting with vintage sewing supplies.

old sewing notions at the country living fair

Which, of course, includes old embroidery hoops (something I’ve used in many blog posts before)…

vintage embroidery hoops

And vintage buttons, which I’ve collected over the years but rarely crafted with.

bushel of vintage buttons at a vintage fair

So, I set out to create a skull out of vintage buttons for Halloween decor, using up some of those old sewing supplies I’d collected!

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Prepping the Frame for Skull Art

The first step was painting the embroidery hoop black. I did that with basic craft paint, doing two coats on each part of the hoop.

painted embroidery hoop

Next, I searched online for some skull clip art and found one that was a good size for my hoop. It was of a sugar skull, as you can see, but that was fine. I just needed the basic shape(s) to trace out.

skull clip art to use as a template

Besides…the sugar skull clip art gave me an idea for the future. Bear with me!

Then, I headed to Joann Fabric because I needed two things: black fabric for the background and some netting (or similar) to use as a template. And talk about sheer dumb luck- I found both things in the remnants bin!

black satin and white netting from the remnants bin

You just never know about that remnants bin. It’s like a thrift store- sometimes you hit the jackpot, sometimes you completely strike out…but it’s always worth looking through!

Anyway, with the embroidery hoop painted, I cut out a square of black fabric (satin!) a couple of inches larger than the hoop on all sides. I set it over the inner hoop, pushed the outer hoop over it, tightened the hoop, and tugged the fabric taut. I trimmed off the extra and was left with this as my canvas.

filling an embroidery hoop with fabric as a background for button crafts

Button Crafts with a Halloween Twist

Now for the fun part- the buttons! But I needed a template first, so I laid out some netting over my printed skull and pinned it to the paper.

using netting underneath button art

Then, I simply cut out the perimeter of the skull, as well as the eyes, nose area, and mouth (cutting through the netting and the paper, since that was easier). After that, I laid the skull-net-template on my black satin canvas and also pinned it in place.

making a template of a skull for some halloween decor

Now, and I don’t have a photo of this, I kept the cut-out paper skull and carefully laid out my white buttons over it. When I was happy with the arrangement, I simply translated the placement to my hoop and stitched each button in place over the netting.

But I do have a pretty photo of white buttons and notions that I absolutely swooned over! These fancy jars of buttons were too pricey for me at the time (grrr!) and I still kick myself for not splurging on that front one.

vintage buttons in antique jars

Nothing quite haunts us like the vintage we left behind…

Anyway, I just kept stitching the buttons in place over the netting. It wasn’t going to be a perfect translation of the skull shape, but hopefully close enough to work.

I also removed the straight pins holding the netting to the satin as I made progress with the buttons. 

button crafts for halloween

Lastly, I used my thread scissors to snip off any netting that peeked out past the buttons. Ready to see how my skull art turned out?

Skull Art with Vintage Buttons

When the last button was stitched on and the last bit of netting trimmed away, this is how my skull art looked.

skull decor on an embroidery hoop

Ok, it’s definitely not a spooky skull, that’s for sure. The vintage buttons are way too sweet to be spooky. But he’s kinda-sorta cute, don’t you think? And such a fab way to use all those boring white buttons!

halloween skull in buttons

I’m sorry it took me so long to finally publish this project. But perhaps if you’ve been hoarding buttons all this time, this project might spark an idea. And it certainly doesn’t have to be a…

Skele-button! No, wait. A SKULL-E-BUTTON!

Yep, you know me- any chance to make a pun! And remember when I mentioned that the sugar skull printout gave me an idea? Well…

sugar skull art with vintage buttons

Who knows, maybe I’ll follow up this skull art project with another, more colorful one. I certainly have the buttons to do it.

And if you’d like another idea for embroidery hoops during spooky season, perhaps this DIY spider web might inspire you!

spider web decor for halloween

Or these spooky silhouettes that “magically” float inside their embroidery hoops…

spooky silhouettes as halloween window decor

Craft on!


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how to make skull art with vintage buttons

skull decor made from vintage buttons

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Hi Sarah – my sister would love this! Time to dig through my multiple estate sale tins of buttons. I am going to ask what is probably the obvious: you cut a long piece of thread and sewed multiple on at a time, correct?

    Love the sugar skull, too. I know in my button collection (hoard?) there are buttons that are flower and star shaped – perhaps incorporate some of those in to help create the sugar skull pattern?

    I love your ideas and always excited to see your email. Thanks for making my day!

  2. I love that, and I might need to make one for my Halloween baby who is turning 28 next Tuesday! He loves all things spooky and I love buttons!

    • Yesssss!!! And I’m weirdly jealous of anyone who is a Halloween Baby! I was born the day after Christmas so you’d think that’d be my favorite holiday. And while I love it, too, Halloween has my heart!

  3. Deirdre Henry says

    I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful articles you produce. You have such a great talent and I thank you for sharing it.
    I also had my gall bladder removed and I wish your husband a very speedy recovery.

    • Thank you so very much, Deirdre! I hope life has been much more pain-free since your gallbladder removal; Jon’s doing really well and we’re definitely hoping for smoother seas moving forward.

  4. Jacqueline Ide says

    I’m going to give a go. May have search for more white buttons. Love your hoop ideas.

  5. Glad you brought this cutie out of the archives because it’s a gem! Loveyour family-friendly version of a skull!

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