Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

"Aunt Docia's dress was a sprigged print, dark blue, with sprigs of red flowers and green leaves thick upon it. The basque was buttoned down the front with black buttons which looked so exactly like juicy big blackberries that Laura wanted to taste them."

--Little House in the Big Woods, pp. 142-3

Whenever I read that passage, I think about two very special buttons in my mother's button box. They were a winey-plum color and they were shaped like raspberries. They were my favorites, and I had visions of owning them when I got older.

Mother's button box was one of those round fruitcake tins. Most of the buttons were ordinary, ripped off of a garment that was being sent to the rag drawer. Others were more fun; I remember a couple of rhinestone buttons, and a number of more colorful ones as well. There were only one or two of many of them--others had four or five.

I firmly believe that every woman should have a button box. They are a wonderful rainy-day plaything for children (over three years old, of course!)--I spent many hours just running my hands through the pile, over and over. Very therapeutic, I think!

When we had to break up housekeeping for my parents five years ago, I was delighted to find the button tin in the closet! But, lo and behold, when I opened it, it had a few packages of bias tape and that cheap lace stuff that is supposed to be used in hems. Not a button appeared at all in the entire house! I asked Mom about them, and she couldn't recall when or what might have happened to them--and my two raspberry buttons.

Sigh. But I transferred my own button collection to my Mother's tin, and now my grandchildren are enjoying playing with it.

I recently went thrifting, and found a few cards of vintage buttons for just a quarter apiece:
Nothing shaped like raspberries, mind you, but fun! Besides the button box, I keep a green Mason jar filled with white buttons--I like the look, sitting in my sewing room on a shelf.

My find-of-the-week was a number of Grandmother's flower garden blocks, some without the outside row of squares:
Forget-me-not is making a Grandmother's Flower Garden, but hers will have more of a 1960's feel than the 30's feel of these squares. Sometimes I think it is sad that these squares sell rather cheaply--the large ones were $2, the smaller $1.50--but then, you can never get enough money for the work that is put into a handmade quilt. And, even though the owner's (descendants?) sold the squares because they had no use for them, we get to enjoy them!
Is there anything special in *your* button box? Why don't you pull it out the next rainy day?


Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...

My mom's fruit cake tin full of buttons was no where to be found when my folks passed away and we sold their house. I looked and looked......I have my buttons in a GladWare container, but I'm going to go out to my outdoor storage, find one of the fruit cake tins that I brought home from my folks' house (they had dozens of them!) and transfer my button stash to the tin. Don't know why it didn't dawn on me to do that before. Thanks for the inspiration.

ztoamom said...

I adore buttons, but I use them on the aprons, so they are color-sorted into little plastic drawer-boxes three high and fill four shelves of a small bookcase. That is a lot of buttons. I like the jar idea, and when I inherit my sewing room from my son who is leaving home for military service (a small consolation prize) I will display them. For now they are just put away as compactly as possible since I sew .... IN THE KITCHEN right there among the breakfast tea and the dinner preparations. Ah, compact living.