Tag Archives: buttons

Button Collecting

When friend Liza asked if I wanted to go with her to see a button collection, there was no hesitation on my part. She said it was a great collection in a historic house, but nothing prepared me for what I was to see.

The collection belongs to Linda who does live in a fabulous Victorian house in a small town in north Georgia. Liza had met her on a tour of homes, and was invited back for a closer look at Linda’s stuff. And I say stuff because it’s not just buttons, but also antique and vintage sewing and knitting implements.I thought we would stay an hour or so, but Linda and her husband, Steve, were so gracious that one hour turned to four. And we still could have stayed longer.

These buttons were stored in an old dental case, which has lots of little drawers that once held dental tools. Now each drawer is packed full of buttons. All these plaid decorated ones came from the same estate.

Button collectors often make framed assemblages of buttons on a theme. Here are some of Linda’s dog buttons.

You may not be able to tell from the photo, but this cabinet was about ten feet high. It was custom built for a coin collector.  All the little drawers are full of buttons, with some of Linda’s yarn in the shelves beneath. Linda is a knitter, and she does beautiful work.

There were fancy wooden buttons…

buttons carved from nuts…

figural bakelite buttons…

sports themed buttons…

and plastic buttons.

These printed cloth nursery rhyme buttons are still on the original card.

Remember my post that told about the Muscatine, Iowa button industry?  Linda has a shell from there with the little blanks stamped out.

But it’s not just buttons. Linda also collects other sewing things, and has a wonderful grouping of pincushions and novelty tape measures.

This little sewing machine is a music box that plays “Buttons and Bows.”

Linda also has an enviable collection of antique ribbons and trims.

This trim is silk with silver metal bauble and embroidery.

Like any good button collector, Linda loves all sorts of miniatures. This is a hiking themed pin.

I loved this tiny terrier trimmed purse.

A knitter must also collect knitting aids. These string holders are by Holt Howard and are perfect for yarn.

I’m sorry this is so fuzzy, but I had to show it anyway. This is a silver yarn holder with a bracelet ring.  Beauty and function.

Thanks so much to Liza at Better Dresses Vintage for taking me along on this button adventure.



Filed under Collecting

Appalachian Button Jamboree

I’m not completely clueless when it comes to button collecting, and I even knew there was a Western North Carolina Button Club. But I recently attended my first button show and I was completely blown away!

You can’t collect old clothes without seeing a lot of buttons. I even have quite a few of them just in case I need some replacements or a random one to match a set. And I have a lot of interesting old ones to use in my own sewing. But to see thousands of buttons mounted, sorted, and ready to buy was a new experience.

Buttons are a big business to a lot of people. Even in a small local show the buying and selling seemed to be brisk. As a button neophyte, I decided to just look and learn. And I learned a lot.

One category I liked was painted wooden buttons. I actually have a few, mainly florals like the black one at bottom right. But what about that ice skater?

I also saw lots of interesting ceramic buttons. I can see how in this medium the possibilities would be limitless.

Celluloid buttons  were plentiful, but most were pricier than these examples. But look at that little clothespin!

More celluloid.

My favorites were the metal buttons. This little owl with stars and moon was great.

There were also lots of sports themed buttons, like this skier.

But “Wow”is right. These metal with enamel bits and “jewels” were so stunning!

Some of the sellers told me they got into button collected as a result of trying to find unique buttons for their weaving, knitting, and sewing projects. I can relate to that. Imagine this button as the closure of a wrap or coat.

Most of this tray of buttons had thread or textiles as part of the button. I do love the wrapped and embroidered ones.

A few sellers also had some additional haberdashery and dry goods in their booths.

There were also a few vintage sewing machines. It does stand to reason that most people who are interested in buttons would also want to see machines and ribbons and sewing patterns.

There was also a display area where members’ collections were shown off.

But my favorite thing of all was a small display of antique clothing that was laid out on a table.  Attendees were allowed to examine the garments. It’s not often that I get the chance to look at so old a garment, both inside and out. This 18th century gentleman’s coat showed many signs of having been worn and repaired quite a bit.


Filed under North Carolina, Sewing, Shopping


Click for the full effect

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.


Filed under Collecting, Sewing