|Button card from Sears & Roebuck, 1961|
For some reason, I'm fascinated with buttons! I've even put them on quilts. I love the shapes, colors, sizes.....the sound of them in a glass jar, the stories they've been around for...you name it. I have a jar of buttons that I bought at a garage sale once. It had many old buttons in it. Then I inherited my grandmother's and great grandmother's button jar. I love those buttons! My great grandmother was married in 1906, so there could be some really old buttons in there!
Many were clipped off of shirts and dresses during the Depression to be used again and again. You didn't waste anything! Some of them still have a small part of the original shirt or coat or dress still attached!
|Sampling from my grandmother and great grandmother's button jar|
|More from the button jar|
Buttons have not been around forever. The earliest buttons that were used on clothing were from the Indus Islands about 3000 years ago. They were made of seashells and had holes so that they could be sewn to clothing. They were used more for ornamentation than anything else. It was not until the 13th century that some brilliant German came up with the use of buttons as a means of fastening a garment closed! (Before that, you were either sewn into your clothes or tied in!)
Buttons became like jewelry. Artists created buttons that were beautiful, one of kind pieces. The wealthy showed off by using many buttons on their clothing. There were even royal decrees limiting the type of buttons you wore to those suited to your social class!
By the 17th and 18th centuries, buttons were being produced in many different materials and shapes. Beautiful buttons were produced in France and Germany, but England soon became a front runner in the production of buttons. Buttons could depict hunting scenes, portraits, family crests, or anything else that an artist might paint, carve, mold, or embroider on a button.
As the American revolution neared, the colonists showed their American patriotism by buying only American made buttons instead of the British buttons they were accustomed to. Buttons were crafted from wood, pewter, brass, and papier mache. Paul Revere made buttons in silver. Phineas Pratt, a well known maker of piano keys, made buttons in ivory.
In the mid 1800's, button production was in its "Golden Age". Mass production meant that it was possible to produce buttons in quantities never seen before. Not long after this, the sewing machine became a common tool of many homemakers who needed buttons for the garments they produced at home. The button was now readily affordable, but the artistry was disappearing.
From 1860 to 1900, the Charm String became popular among young girls. They started by stringing a large button on a string. This was the "touch button". After this they added buttons from friends and relatives. The goal was to string 1000 buttons on their string. When the 1000th button went on, their true love was to soon come and "sweep them off their feet". (Of course, in some circles, it became a popularity game and it was said that if the 1000th button went on, the girl would be a spinster.) So much for superstition!
Buttons have stuck around despite the invention of zippers and hook and loop tape! (I'm glad we don't have to button our shoes anymore, but that's a different story.)
I think you'll always see a jar of buttons in my sewing room!
Yesterday, Annie of Ruby Slipperz had a great post about buttons that you can read here . I had this post written already. Take a look at her buttons and read what she has to say about those she has inherited, too. Buttons often have warm memories attached to them! You might take another look at what you have in your button jar!
Don't forget about the giveaway! You have until July 6 at midnight, CST. To enter, go to this page
LUV LUV your buttons, I have a wonderful red button bracelet that I brought at a craft fair. When I went visiting (in my day you always went visiting on Sunday) ladies would bring out their button can or jar for me to play. I have my buttons in a used pickle jar.ReplyDelete
It's funny I should read about buttons after I've just spent 15 minutes trying to find a single button for a pincushion I made. I ended up using the one that came with my new shorts. Of course if I lose the button on my shorts, my pincushion is in trouble. I've sewn a lot of clothes over the years but almost never used buttons. Thus no collection. I'm jealous of yours. Very nice!ReplyDelete
I used to make jewelry out of my mom's vintage button collection. you can do so many things with them! my grandma has a big stash of them still attached to the cuffs off my uncles shirts. ah, the good ole days :DReplyDelete
Great post Linda. I've put all my buttons into a jar shaped like a teddy bear! I'm just starting to collect vintage buttons. I picked up some lovely ones the other week at the op shop, some still on their cards. I always cut off the buttons before I throw away any worn out clothes. I remember spending my holidays with my aunt and spending hours sorting her buttons out!ReplyDelete
My name is Jan-maree and i am a button-a-holic too! Love them, collect them and justhave to find more uses for them!ReplyDelete
I agree! I'm convinced that I'm a button-a-holic, I love the feel of them the way they look and boy I have so so so many. Loved your post on buttons.ReplyDelete
Wonderful post! I inherited my grandmother's button tin and I'm sure they're from every shirt they ever wore. It's a treasured item in my home, too.ReplyDelete
Linda what a wonderful post i found it very interestingReplyDelete
This is a helpful article Linda, thanks. So interesting about the 1000 buttons...you are so fortunate to have your family's buttons...ReplyDelete
Thanks for the history of the button! You have quite a collection and how neat to have some of your grandmother's and great grandmother's buttons. My mom has an Indian basket full of old buttons that I used to love to look through as a child.ReplyDelete
OH ME TOO! I have incorporated some really GREAT buttons on some of the projects that I have been working on!ReplyDelete
I love the old buttons you have...and my goodness they are still looking brand new!
That was great to read, thanks! I also have inherited a couple of boxes of buttons - love em. I've made necklaces of Somme, and have others in pretty class jars sorted by colour on a shelf :-)ReplyDelete
Doh, "some" not Somme!ReplyDelete
I'm loving all these posts about buttons. I have a real love affair with them. I lost my mom to breast cancer in 1976 and my dad brought over my mom's little two drawer sewing cabinet because he knew I would love it. It was like a beautiful treasure to me. It is small, just about two feet high, 16" wide and 12" deep, dark wood, all scratch up from years of use, it has two little drawers and a lift top with spool holders in the top, spots for scissors and other accessories. The day dad brought it over to me, I opened the top lid and there was a bottle that had been my grandmothers, full of buttons! A few from my great-grandmother, lots from my grand-mother and of course a nice collection from my mother's sewing years and my own. I love to just dump the bottle out on a place mat every now and then and just look over all the buttons and imagine the stories the old ones could tell me if they could only speak. I've planned use some of them to embellish projects with but just can't quite do it yet. Some day maybe! Hugs...ReplyDelete
Pure JOY...I have always loved buttons! Thanks for sharing ....happy weekend.ReplyDelete
Linda, my neighbor belongs to a button club here in Iowa. You should see her button room! I'll have to ask for permission to take a photo. She has so many button cards. I'll have to show you mine her club shared with me when I attended one of her meetings. They are so nice.ReplyDelete
Oh the joy of just throwing your hands into a full pot of buttons and feeling them tinkle off your fingers as you pull them out - I used to love doing this when I was young ... and if I ever see a big bowl of buttons I just can't resist! Unfortunately my own collection of buttons isn't quite big enough to do that yet. I tend to buy buttons for specific projects rather than just because.ReplyDelete
Thankyou for this fantastic-to-read history lesson! I Love to hear the stories behind things I use everyday!
What is it about buttons that we quilters like? Especially Grandma's? I have my Grandma's buttons too and had planned sometime to blog and show them also. Your buttons are really great. I have been reading your tutorials and found a lot of information that I have bookmarked,,thanks so much..ReplyDelete
I love buttons too!!! I have a very small collection - mostly from the Depression era, I just love them. I only use them for very, very special projects, lol!ReplyDelete
...and what little girl growing up in a family of seamstresses didn't have a button tin, jar, box or drawer to play with? My love of buttons came naturally, and I appreciate any share on them. Yours are beautiful! Love the Sears button card ~ReplyDelete
I am just starting to like antique stores. One thing that I'd love to find is a jar of buttons.ReplyDelete