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Button-decorated T-shirt

The Nisga'a and other northwest coast Aboriginal peoples (such as Gitksan, Haida, Tahltan, and Tlingit) create ceremonial button blankets or button robes to be worn on special occasions. Originally, abalone-shell buttons were used and were a symbol of wealth because they took a long time to make. European buttons were later traded and used. The more buttons on a blanket, the more power it had. The designs on button blankets or robes have many different meanings. Sometimes a design will show a clan or a crest. Designs are carefully chosen to have special meaning and reflect the wearer. You can create a design to decorate your own clothing with buttons.


  • T-shirt or other item of clothing
  • buttons (various shapes and colours)
  • sheet of paper
  • pencil or pen
  • needle and thread
  • scissors


Materials needed for button-decorated T-shirt.   Step 1. Decide on your design and draw a picture of it on the paper.

Step 2. Sew the buttons on, using your paper design to guide you.   Step 3. Your button-decorated T-shirt is complete. Now go try it on!

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