(in advance, apologies for the photos, the light is not being kind to me in these dull dreary post christmas days)
Can you guess what these are ? These are history, these are 3 generations of button boxes, mine, my Mum’s and my Grandma’s (from the point of view of “things handed down from mother to daughter it would have been more poetic to have my Nana’s button box but my Mum is one of 4 sisters and besides Nana’s button box is very slightly famous).
When I was small it was a pretty safe bet that there was a button box in most houses, in the ’70’s more people sewed. My Mum’s box back then was clear, I think it was a tub that once held cotton buds or it may have been a large jar of glace cherries. But it was large, and clear and full of wonders – I could spend hours sorting the buttons, making patterns, telling stories, simply playing with the buttons and most of them had memories, like the patchwork I showed the other week I could name most of the clothes that the buttons came off.
That box has long since gone and I got a bit of a shock when I saw the contents of Mum’s boxIt’s been organised ! Part of me, the part that is mentally still 6 or 7 is appalled, where is the fun in a button box that is all in little bags and no happy chaos ! But the other part of me, the part that is learning to sew squeezed in between working, running the house and making sure there is food in the house, the bit of me that values anything that saves time applauds Mum for being sensible and making sure she can find things in a hurry.
When I was 18 my Mum packed me off to university with an emergency sewing kit, the contents are long since gone but I still have the box and now it has buttons in itSadly, the contents of the box are not as much fun as mum’s (despite the organisation) – mine doesn’t quite have the memories and is made up of the odd button that comes with new clothes and a few cards of buttons I’ve purchased over the years because they look nice such as the Paddington Bear ones, some rainbow ones I bought at a craft fair and a set of 6 handmade buttons we bought last year when we went to the Framework Knitters Museum.
Finally Grandma’s button box. This box came as a surprise to me as I didn’t even know she sewed. Nana ? Nana definitely sewed, at one point in her life she did it for a living she was what she described as a “Tailoress” and her button box was overflowing and often used in games with her many grandchildren and great grandchildren (she had 14 grandchildren).
At Nana’s funeral my cousin Julie told a story about a game called “Tommy Button” played with the button box which apparently features now in a book as a game for children with learning difficulties because Julie shared the game with a friend who shared it with a friend etc etc
Anyway, back to Grandma’s button boxWhat a fabulous chaos of buttons, what memories – there are a lot that remind me of coats she used to have, some have clearly come off chairs and sofas and there are a number of self cover buttons (which I am getting into at the moment) and there is one, just one APR button which unfortunately didn’t photograph well – I wonder who that belonged to ?
Unfortunately however despite having 3 boxes to go through I couldn’t find enough buttons of the same type that would fit and look good on either my Manu or Coraline cardigans so I had to go shopping…and got lost in the wonder of buttons…I fear I could get obsessed !