The button tin sits in a far corner of my messy sewing drawer, waiting to be opened and scratched in for that one button which can replace the missing or broken one on a shirt, or a blouse in a hurry.While searching for the right button, I started thinking about this seemingly unimportant object called a button and wondered where it all started?
The first evidence of the use of buttons dates back to 2000 B C , when they were intially used as ornaments. Use of buttons as fasteners only developed much later and then only wealthy people could afford to wear them. The number of buttons and the material they were made of became a status symbol of the rich. The most fascinating story about buttons I came across, is that King Frederick The Great of Prussia, started the practice of men’s suit coats having non-functioning buttons sewn on the sleeves in the 18th century. The rumor goes that after an inspection of his troops, he ordered buttons to be sewn on the sleeves of their coats to discourage them from wiping their noses on them!
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Here it is, the button tin waiting to yield just the right button for my shirt.
Is it waiting for eager children’s hands to open it and play with the treasures inside?
Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of the days, usually in winter, when my mother took out all the long left behind in the business of life, sewing and mending projects. ( She still darned socks !) Those were the days when we could play with her button tin, while she sat sewing.
We would open the tin with great anticipation and the buttons spilled out in a mix of colours and and sizes. Little hands lined them up in rows like soldiers on a march or sorted them according to colour and size. There they were, an array of treasures which could transform a simple hairband into a princess’s crown, or become the eyes on a clumsily handmade doll or teddy. Big round ones could be wheels of a cardboard train, shiny ones became jewels around a smart lady’s neck or coins to go shopping with. They taught us colours , size and the meaning of numbers.
Maybe one day I can teach my grandchildren the joys of a button tin!
Is it waiting to be used in the next craft project ?
Each time I buy a new dress, coat or shirt which have an extra button, it finds a place in the button tin untill I need it. I love buying buttons and the buttons I buy join the others in the button tin untill that day when it becomes the last piece in the puzzle of a craft project be it mosaic, handmade cards, knitted mittens and many more.
Is it waiting to give new life to an old coat or hand me down jacket?
Lately I have been fascinated by the trend to wear second hand clothes and found a wonderful velvet coat which belonged to my mother. A few new buttons later and I had a coat which earned many compliments.
What do you do with all the buttons accumulated in your house?