Tag Archives: buttons

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