I sew, therefore I collect buttons. By collect I don’t mean that I am a button collector in the strictest sense. I’m more of a saver, an accumulator, maybe even a hoarder. I just never know when I’ll need seven purple plastic buttons to complete a project, so when I see them, I buy them.
I mentioned last week that I still have my grandmother’s button box. When she sold her house and dispersed her belongings it was one of the two things I wanted most. (Along with her sewing machine, which I foolishly let a cousin take to save a nasty scene. But that’s another story.)
Button boxes used to be a household necessity. Worn garments were not simply tossed into the trash. The buttons and zippers were removed for later use, and the fabric was either used for rags or if any of it was suitable, was used in quilts and other projects. Because buttons were saved, it is now possible to find boxes and jars filled with them at flea markets, antique stores and estate sales. I’m always looking for them.
Over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few. Some of the more special of them I keep in one of those metal boxes that have the little drawers that are meant for nuts and bolts and screws and such. They are perfect for organizing buttons.
In the first drawer I have single buttons, in the second drawer I have doubles, then triples, and so forth. I also have a drawer for just single metal ones, and a drawer for black glass buttons.
I’m always looking for great old (and new) buttons. I’ve been known to buy trashed dresses and holey sweaters just to save the buttons. I also love shopping for buttons when I travel. The wooden buttons with the oak leaves came from a button shop in Munich quite a few years ago.
These buttons came with an old sewing box I bought years ago. I love how the owner of it arranged the same colored buttons on wire. The rest of the box is filled with old zippers.
Even if you do not sew, terrific buttons can really transform a plain dress, sweater, or jacket. I’ve always switching buttons around on the things in my closet. But sometimes I get it right, and no switching is necessary:
Carved wood, made in Czechoslovakia.