Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Bag of Buttons!

A few weeks ago, I visited my brother and his family.  While I was there, I had an opportunity to go through my grandmother's sewing machine table drawers for vintage goodies.  It was so much fun looking through all the old bobbins, little containers of odd buttons, hemming tape, and even a few handwritten note cards with mine and my mom's measurements from back in the mid 1980's!  Made me feel pretty good that my measurements are pretty much the same except that my bust in now larger!  Ha!  Still made me feel fat seeing my mom's waist measurement of only 24" though.  She always had a teeny tiny waist!

Here's the menagerie of buttons that I found!

I love the old covered buttons that use those metal teeth.  In my opinion, these work so much better than the ones you can buy now, and they don't require you to use that little plastic thing or a hammer to secure the back to the button!  I wonder why they stopped making them that way...

Anyway, tucked away in the bottom drawer of the table, I found this sweet bag full of vintage used buttons!  I was so excited, but resisted the temptation to just dump the bag right then and there.  I decided to wait until I returned home and could take pictures as I opened the bag for the first time it has been opened in at least 14 years!

When I poured the buttons out, I became a little emotional.  Which buttons had been on a piece of my mom's old clothing?  And I even got a whiff of what my grandparent's house used to smell like!  These two women, my grandmother and my mom, taught me the basics of sewing without ever giving me a formal lesson.  I just watched them, helped them lay out fabric and patterns (my grandmother used old silverware knives as weights), learned when to use pinking shears and when to use regular scissors, thread the sewing machine needle (I could see the eye of the needle without glasses), picked out a lot of seams, and pressed open a lot of seams.  I never really sewed anything substantial until I was in my mid 20's.

My grandparents believed in holding onto anything that could be reused later. A lot of these buttons still had the thread or even fabric sewn to them where my grandmother had cut them off a piece of old clothing.

While there aren't a lot of colorful buttons, there were quite a few pearl buttons (and a pearl buckle or two) in the bag, and some even had cut out designs on them.  Here are a few of my favorites.

This one reminds me of an antique deviled egg serving dish!

And this one reminds me of a piece of chocolate candy!  It was the only one of its kind.

There were a few rather large buttons, too.  Here's one of my favorites.

A lonely little red decorative button.

These lovely mother-of-pearl buttons all had a light purple shimmer to them.

I've desperately needed to sort all my buttons out by color, and while on the trip to visit my family, I remembered I had this neat old stick candy jar display that came from my father's pharmacy when I was a kid.  After my dad stopped selling the Old Dutch candy at his store, my mom brought home the jars and kept pens, paper clips, and binder clips stored in them.

While there aren't quite enough jars to sort and store all of the buttons I own now, I believe it comes in quite handy as a way to display all the vintage, loose buttons I have.  I'll just have to continue storing all the other new and vintage buttons that are still on cards in the ziploc bag in my sewing drawer.

To keep the dust out of the button jars, I made these simple little jar covers. Super easy!  Just cut out a circle the diameter of the jar plus 2 inches, then shir two rows of elastic thread spaced roughly 3/8" apart around the edges of the circle.  Spritz with water, apply heat from an iron for a few seconds, and you are done!

Although I now have all these buttons, I am itching to find more!  I've been searching a local thrift store for notions and buttons, so I have a feeling that my collection is going to continue to grow!


  1. How wonderful! I love buttons and enjoyed reading about your new treasure. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I remember those stick candy jars. They look nice and the top covers are pretty. Seems like there were more than 6 jars.

  3. That is so sweet!!! I know that feeling of nostalgia. I still get some of my grandma's clothes out of the closet to smell those familiar smells. One day I plan to make a quilt out of her favorite shirts. I've been using some vintage buttons that my mother-in-law gave me. Nick's grandma passed away this summer and my MIL wanted me to have her sewing notions! :)


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