I bought buttons from ebay. I looked at button lots and bought a few lots of blues and teals. Most were vintage but I bought one lot of new ones that I liked the colours of. I bought about 250 buttons and spent probably $12. And I did use all the buttons.
On a side note... I love the way buttons look. I have no idea why, but they totally inspire me.
For my first pillow I took a pencil and drew on the letter. This wasn't the greatest idea because erasing it turned out to be pretty difficult. For the next ones I just put dots on to show me the corner of the letters. That was much more successful and easy to follow. I then sewed on every button individually, using embroidary thread. It took a bit of practice but got much easier as I went along. My little sister got an A and a Star. My older sister got a L, a heart and a N. I can not sew by hand and it took me a long time. I worked on it for weeks...every evening sewing a few on. I do have really bad eyesight, so threading the needle was a pain.
Here are how mine turned out....
$9 - for cover
$4 - for cushion
$2.5 - for buttons (on average)
$15.5 per pillow!!
It was much cheaper.... but, if I consider what my time is worth... not too sure.
Overall, I think they are pretty cool, and it came from the heart and a few weeks before Christmas my great-grandma passed away (she was 101!!). I asked my mom for a few buttons from some of her clothes. So, I sewed a few on each of the pillows for my sisters. You can see them on the corners of the pillow with the star. Now they have even a bit more meaning for everyone.