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    « Off to school and home again | Main | One-word Wednesday: Uninhibited »

    Granny's buttons

    I have two tins of buttons.

    One is small and kind of boring. It's filled mostly with spare buttons in plastic packages, thrown into the can for safekeeping in the event a garment needs a replacement.

    That small, boring can of buttons is mine.

    Then I have a larger tin of buttons. It's filled to the brim with what looks like buttons, but they're actually treasures. Treasures from my mother-in-law, also known as Granny to most anyone who knows her.

    Granny's tin of treasures became mine when she was moved into a nursing home a few years ago.

    Inside Granny's tin that's now mine are hundreds of buttons. It's hard to imagine the years upon years of outfits losing buttons. Baubles and bits found in the washer or dryer on laundry day, buried deep in shag carpeting of long ago, or dangling frustratingly so by threads as one headed out the door to work, school, or special affairs.

    Some of the buttons were surely from Granny's own dresses and blouses. Many more, though, likely wiggled their way off outfits worn by her six children, her first then second husbands, possibly even some from her nearly fifty grandchildren and great-grandchildren who stayed with her now and again.

    Granny's tin also holds several cards filled with unused buttons, fancy bits never removed from their original packaging. Looking at them I wonder what plans Granny had for such treasures, plans she never realized for one reason or another.

    I now have plans for Granny's buttons, for her treasures. I plan to share them with her many grandchildren. And her great-grandchildren, like Bubby and Mac, as well as her great-great-grandchildren, of which there are, surprisingly, already one or two.

    I've not yet finalized the ultimate button-sharing plan, though, the projects I'll create to divide up Granny's buttons to be enjoyed by all. For now, I'm starting off small, passing them along to my children one by one, like this: 

    When wrapping Andrea's birthday presents in July, I topped each with a button. One of Granny's buttons. One of Granny's treasures.

    Brianna's birthday is this weekend. I'll be doing the same for her. Come Megan's birthday in December, she'll get treasure-topped gifts, too. Maybe my girls can start their own button tins with Granny's buttons.

    I've pinned on my Pinterest boards several button project ideas and am still looking for more. Eventually I'll settle on one or two, then set to work sharing Granny's buttons. Her treasures.

    In the meantime, I'll keep adding my own buttons and spare button packets to my own small, boring tin. Maybe eventually I'll need a bigger tin. Perhaps one day my tin will be like Granny's—filled to the brim with buttons.

    They may look like buttons now, but they may one day be treasures. Treasures for my kids. For my grandkids and their kids, too.

    Just like Granny's treasures. Just like Granny's buttons.

    Today's question:

    What do you do with your spare buttons?

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    Reader Comments (15)

    this reminds me of sitting on my aunt's bed when i was a little girl, playing with HER buttons...

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdebra

    Stirs up fond memories of my Mom's buttons. She was an accomplished seamstress and I used to love to play with the button tin while she was sewing.

    I'm confident that all my spare buttons are in a safe place...with many, many other items that I'll rediscover one day.

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    My Mother kept her buttons, and other sewing stuff in a large tin... it still sits on the dresser in the bed room she and my Dad shared before she passed...
    I intend to retrieve it next visit to see him... he doesn't sew and I really do not have a button tin of my own.... and one day maybe it will go to one of the Granddaughters....

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCherry Smith

    I've not done much sewing since my seven kids (all in their forties and fifties now) grew up; I have not a clue to where my button tin wound up, maybe I'll find it someday.

    I'm glad you have that treasure tin of Dee's, you're the one to make good use of it.

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    I'm not a button collector! I have some spares thrown in the sewing box but that is about it. My real mother did not sew and my step-mom who is amazing with a sewing machine hasn't passed any of her's down yet! She is still busy sewing!

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    I have a button tin too. Most of the buttons are the spare ones you get when you buy clothes but I also have buttons that my mom gave me when they moved to Las Vegas. It's funny how the memories come back just by looking at buttons. Thanks for your post!

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie E.

    This is a timely post because I just moved my buttons on Monday. I've always kept them in a large glass container with a lid that clamps down. As part of my craft room renovations, I moved them into a box this week. I thought it was kind of silly that I felt a little bit emotional about moving them.

    When Katy was little she loved nothing more than playing with my buttons. She would spill them out on the living room floor and sort them for hours. Then as a teen she used them for craft projects. I use my buttons now on the clothes I make for the Princesses. Katy always recognizes the vintage buttons from my collection. I like your idea for adding them to packages. I may join you.

    I remember both my Granny and my Mom would cut buttons off of old worn out clothing and add them to their button collections. I think buttons were costly and precious back during the depression and it had become a habit to save them.

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Valenta

    I don't sew but I've saved loose and extra buttons in a mason jar over the is almost full!

    When I went through my Mom's things after she passed away I found a very large tin of buttons. I gaveit to a friend who does sew, as I knew she'd really appreciate them. When her Mom passed away she made pillows for all her sisters and sewed button hearts on each one that she made with her Mother's button collections. :)

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat

    I have some of my Mom's buttons but don't have a nice tin. I think I need to buy one. My Mom was a seamstress when I was growing up so she had lots of buttons and I remember stringing them into circles to put on our Christmas tree. Now I use some when I sew for my granddaughter and she uses some for her crafts. I loved the idea of the pillow with a heart made with buttons.

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

    What a wonderful idea Lisa.

    Lucy attends a Jewish Day School and they collected buttons for every child that was killed during the holocaust and that is what happened to my buttons. Every family with a child at the school had the opportunity to count all the buttons - that was a job and half. The students are so very proud of what they achieved. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Key, paid a visit to the school as a way of acknowledging what a wonderful thing the students were doing. People throughout New Zealand donated buttons and some schools took it up as a project.

    If anyone is interested in reading the article the link is http//:

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    What a unique idea for putting those old buttons to good use! I really like the thought of sharing them with Granny's posterity. Family heirlooms are such wonderful treasures.

    I keep my buttons in my sewing kit, which doesn't get used very much. But, you never know when you might have just the button you're looking for, so I hold on to them, just in case.

    Collecting buttons is unique, almost like having a coin or stamp collection.

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGet Ready Grandma

    I think my sister ended up with our heirloom buttons, which is okay. As for the spare buttons that we all accumulate in those little plastic pouches--when I pull those out and look at them, I don't recognize any of them as matching anything in my wardrobe. Do they just attach a random pack of buttons to everything that I buy?

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Adcox

    The button box is beautiful and not at all boring. I love to collect buttons too and have a round tin, just like yours, full of them. But now you've made me think of creating something with them. I might make some wall art. Now I am all excited about it.

    Your idea of wrapping presents with it just rocks. I am the sort who unwraps gift wrapping very carefully. :D

    August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVidya Sury

    Wow! What a treasure trove!

    August 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristiina

    Thanks for the great ideas about passing the buttons along. I just re-discovered my button tin a week ago, and then your post on buttons appeared. Too ironic. I'm a seamstress, so I love sifting through all of the old buttons.

    August 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Spindle
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