Button, Button, Who’s got the button?

Did you ever play this game? I’m sure I did but can’t remember doing so. I do remember playing in my grandmother’s button tin. It was a very large red tin with a black lid. The picture on the outside was of a man sneezing and it was advertising Hacks cough drops.  Inside the button tin were some pretty cool buttons. My favourite was a woven white basket with lots of colourful posies. I sure wish I knew where that button got to, it was the most perfect button and I always looked for it when the button tin came out.

a very small portion of my buttons

On the 100th day of each school year my grandson’s school celebrates 100 days with a jar full of 100 items. We thought it very appropriate to use up some of my thousands of buttons by gluing them to the large paper jar he brought home. I was really thinking we should have sewn them on! Didn’t happen… ;)

Having the large jar on the table reminded my son-in-law that he had a Mackinaw jacket that was missing all it’s buttons. To the button jar and then to the sewing machine and he had all his buttons back in a jiffy. I’ve got buttons made from leather, wood, glass, tin, elk horn, walrus tusk and plastic. The older buttons are the best. One of these buttons is white glass, 1/2″ across with a raised head and paws of a terrier looking over a fence. Way too cute!  Some of my button collection may have come from my grandmother’s collection but I’ve spent many hours over the years looking for buttons in second hand shops. At first I was looking for buttons to embellish quilts and then to get enough of the same size, 2 hole buttons together to make button dolls.

Carded buttons

My button collection is divided into several tins and jars. I have a 5L jar and an antique quart jar filled with buttons that can be used for anything. There is a large cookie tin filled with buttons still on their cards. Have you ever tried to get buttons off a card that have been stapled on? That’s a serious drag! I much prefer the ones that have been sewn on or attached with cotter pins. The buttons on the left were a steal at 10 cents a card but for the life of me I  can’t remember why I had to have these. One of my favourite 2nd hand shops used to put their buttons in tiny little bags. That’s where I got my start on collecting abalone shell buttons for that “button blanket” quilt that I’m going to make one day!

24 bags of abalone buttons for $9.25

It was a great way to collect, some days I would find 3 bags of these little gems for .25 each. One of my favourite sweaters has 6 abalone shell buttons on it that will be added to this collection one day…but not yet!
I also have a small sampling of buttons from Canadian military uniforms.  I have in my possession one of the coolest buttons ever. The button is 1″ in diameter and is made of brass. This button opens up like a locket and inside is the photograph of somebody’s wife/girlfriend. My great grandmother used to sew the top coats for the British military when she still lived in England. I wonder if she ever sewed one of these types of buttons onto anyones top coat? Did you have to request this button or was it standard issue? I love antique buttons.

Canadian Military brass buttons

There were many other little things found inside my grandmother’s button tin…curtain hooks, marbles, snaps, elastic.  And so it is the same with my tins. The one tin that holds all those “special” to me buttons had some very strange things in it when I looked into it today. Top of the list were 3 tiny baby teeth that will need a DNA test to determine whose they are. :)    A metal button with a fly fisherman standing on a river bank was attached to a piece of felted wool and inserted into a bound buttonhole that I had made in a tailoring class many, many years ago. Board game pieces, metal thumbtacks, dried rose petals…and the list goes on.

Button dolls

If you’re ever looking for something to do on a rainy afternoon, try making a button doll…what better way to use up all those old buttons just hanging around in the family button jar.
Happiness is a jar full of buttons and memories…Valerie Raye
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One Response to Button, Button, Who’s got the button?

  1. Joan says:

    I remember making those button dolls in Wanda’s studio a few years back. Mine had buttons from old brownie uniforms. Hmm I wonder where she went to? Great post!