Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Biography In Buttons

Buttons, brown, yellow, and green

I spent an hour yesterday going through my button supply, looking for shirt buttons. I keep most of them in plastic zip lock bags, sorted by color, and yesterday, out of curiosity, I weighed the bags on my old kitchen scale. The main collection weighs 12 pounds, and I have a jar of white shirt buttons I didn't bother to include in that total. It's a lucky thing I hoard sewing notions, as good buttons are hard to find these days.

An antique button

The core of my button stash is inherited from my mom, who taught me to sew. I remember her running the Singer Featherweight at the kitchen table, pausing to showing me how to use a needle and thread on flannel shirt scraps. There's probably a law against giving preschoolers needles now, but I was hooked on textiles early. Most of the buttons are salvaged from worn-out clothes or left over from previous sewing projects. My mother pointed out some that came from her grandmother's dresses, and more from her own mother's wardrobe. (Someday I'll show you a few of the cotton scraps for quilts, spanning the 1890's to 1990's. The hoarding of sewing notions runs deep in my family.)

Part of the red button collection

Mom died ten years ago last month. She suffered dementia her last year, but even after she couldn't recognize people or speak, she would still reach out to visitors, and touch the buttons on their coats.

1950's era pink plastic buttons

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