Finding purposes for my button stash

COLLEEN SIMPSON
Last updated 08:30 18/05/2012

Buttons, buttons everywhere and not a shirt to mend. I reached button crisis point this week when my button jar became too full to close. I mean honestly, how many buttons does one lady need?

I blame my mum. She's the one who told me never to chuck anything out and apart from that decade between 14 and 24, I have never been one to disobey her. Now I know you're saying "you're a grown woman, cut the apron strings". And I say you haven't met my mother and don't know how everything she says insinuates its way into my psyche. Is it possible to be brainwashed by a little Irish granny? I suggest it is.

So anyways, what started as just a handful of buttons snipped from the inside of new clothes has, somehow, all buttonsmorphed into a collection that now numbers an impressive 687. Yes, you read right. I am now the careful lady owner of 687 buttons. This (right) is them in all their glory.

Some I found while fossicking in charity shops; some I paid a small fortune for during a splendid London afternoon spent fondling the haberdashery in Liberty and the gift shop in the Victoria and Albert Design Museum.

Below are some of my favourites. Though I love them, I haven't got to the stage where I would consider giving them names so I consider that my addiction may have some way to go. But I can pass a lot of time just playing with the buttons, admiring their shape and texture and, in the case of the old ones, wondering whose clothes they once fastened and how they ended up in my jar.

And though the jar is full and I have a button, surely, for almost any purpose,

favourite buttons

I just can't seem to stop buying the things. I think I have a problem. Please tell me I'm not the only one with an inappropriately large stash of something with only a limited purpose. Surely there are some among you who are equally enamoured with these little circular beauties? Perhaps it's not buttons that float your haberdashery boat, maybe it is ribbon that flicks your crafty switch?

On that note, I have another confession to make. I have at least a cool 100 metres of ribbon bundled into an even larger jar. I don't feel guilty - au contraire. I have invested in some tiny things which mostly cost next to nothing, give me great pleasure and come with the bonus of actually having a function. Is that rational thinking or thinking irrationally?

And critically....anyone got any ideas of what project I could undertake that would make some room in the jar? Room that will undoubtedly be filled with you know what...

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27 comments
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Sharon P   #1   08:38 am May 18 2012

My mother is a seamstress, and I have fond memories of sitting in her sewing room at home while she was sewing, looking through her button box.... An old Queen Anne (I think that's the brand) chocolate box filled with mostly one off buttons. I loved seeing the amazing assortment of buttons, and often my Mum could tell me what the really pretty buttons had come off. The challenge of trying to find matching buttons was always fun too. Good times!

Red   #2   08:40 am May 18 2012

I threaded floristry wire through my most covetable buttons and now they're like a permanent bouquet on my dresser.

My collection of cake tins seem to be taking over the house - I'm not sure when I'm going to make a clown cake (the idea actually creeps me out) but I won't be throwing out the clown cake tin either - madness.

Beebop   #3   09:36 am May 18 2012

It's like you wrote this post just for me! I recently inherited my grandmother's button collection and I swear I have a thousand of the things (I haven't sat down to count them because I'm not sure I'd ever emerge from the endeavour). I have made a facebook album dedicated entirely to my buttons and their associated projects. So far I have made:

button stud earrings in a variety of colours and I wear them most days, I love them. You can buy the stud backings from spotlight etc and just hot glue gun them on;

button dangly earrings;

a button earring-holder - I strung a whole lot of four-hole buttons on a peice of fishing wire and stretched it between two hooks on a backing board, the earrings slot through the bottom two holes (hard to explain, google image search would probably do better);

button brooches;

button pendants for the really fancy ones;

and I'm hoping to set some in resin and make cool button coasters.

My major collecting obsession though it old biscuit tins/cake tins etc (particularly the ones with kittens) but my arguement is that they create space on account of being storage (my husband disagrees)

sorry for massive post but you did mention buttons!

amp   #4   10:05 am May 18 2012

Why not make scatter cushions decorated with buttons - either in some pattern or placed randomly. Or decorate parts of clothing with them - down arms, around necklines or hems... or even decorate curtains with them - down edges, and along hems in deep borders or thin strips. What about lampshades. Button bags would look good too. Maybe my ideas are not so cool, but at least you might get an idea from them! And butto collections are always good for sorting games with little children - you must join in though for fun and for safety's sake!

D   #5   10:50 am May 18 2012

I quilt, and I would use some of those glorious buttons in my quilting.... for the plainer large buttons, I have a use for those in my house - I sew them inside the top and bottom ends of duvet covers (all my duvet inners have button holes in them now) to hold the inners in place. If the buttons are suited to the duvet cover, I put a button hole in the top of the duvet cover too, so the buttons show.

Dorothy Webster   #6   11:03 am May 18 2012

I love buttons too, we use them to play cards, each button is worth one cent as we don't have one cent coins now. We each buy buttons and at the end of the night we cash in our stash of buttons for the coins. It is a fun night with not nearly so much money lost as using 10 cent coins. My Mother had some lovely buttons she made some lovely chokers by sewing a special button to a piece of velvet ribbon, perhaps you could bring the fashion back again.

Pickles   #7   11:24 am May 18 2012

SHOES!! I'm currently collecting buttons so I can make button shoes (google images!) I love them already!

Also @beebop where does one source resin from?

cupcake_di   #8   12:55 pm May 18 2012

I have seem some amazing button necklaces and brooches. Google 'how to make a button necklace'.

Also a friend gave me a gorgeous cloth purse she had sewed buttons all over. It was beautiful.

Beebop   #9   01:05 pm May 18 2012

@Pickles #7 - I haven't managed to source the right stuff for what I want yet; you can get some at Bunnings but the one that said it "set crystal clear" also said "not suitable for use with wood" and as I was going to use the resin to also cover some painted wooden coasters I have already made that wasn't going to do. My friend who did a magnificent mosiac table that she resin-ed got hers from a boat building place in Hawkes Bay (they delivered to her in Palmy North) so I guess that's my next port of call (ugh, terrible pun I apologise).

Beebop(again)   #10   01:08 pm May 18 2012

Oh, I forgot I also made some very sweet (and super simple) button wine glass charms - you can get the rings (to go round the base of the wine glass) from craft shops/some $2 shops/trademe.

I'll try and stop commenting now ;)


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