Buttons, buttons and more buttons…

My memories of my grandmother and mother are of two very resourceful women that used and reused everything. Recycling is so ‘trendy’ now but honestly, it’s nothing new, is it? Can anyone else remember Christmas or birthday present being unwrapped carefully and the paper being whizzed away by an adult as they ironed it and reused it on another occasion?

Buttons and zips were another part of unwanted clothing that would never have been wasted, Granny had a sewing treasure trove with pre-loved (another trendy word) zips, hooks and eyes, buttons and the old favourite… school name tapes. There had to be an economy there too. The eldest child had a full name tape with both Christian name and surname, second child had new but with the Christian name cut off so just the surname was used and then poor old third child had just the surname carefully unpicked from older sibling’s clothing, so even less in the way of borders at each end. I was the eldest by the way so – ha ha ha – I got first and last names!

I would love to say that I am currently just as thrifty and take care of all the treasures handed down to me – but I’m sorry I don’t. Replace a zip …. Nope …. Sew on a button yes, maybe, but recycle hooks and eyes? Not on your nelly.

However, I have found a very happy use for some of the treasures – I add them as embellishments to cards.  Whether you like making vintage style (me, me!) cards or prefer a more contemporary slant to your creativity – buttons can still make great additions. Bright primary coloured plain buttons look fun on modern style cards – and the smaller pearly buttons look great on a vintage card – so keep saving and keep recycling, even if it is in 21stcentury style!

14 replies
  1. Diana Newson says:

    My grandmother even took the lace off her petticoats to re-use. She had a button box, which my mother inherited and added to and has now come down to me and you have reminded me that I need to look and see what treasures are in there 🙂

  2. Tracy W says:

    You can never have too many buttons I say, I have some from my grandmother, my mother and those I have collected at boot sales and charity shops and taken off clothes. There is something about buttons that makes me smile. As you say they make beautiful embellishments for crafting. Creative Blessings, Tracy x

  3. Alice3 says:

    My Mum had a button tin which was passed on to me and I have a button jar which contains Baby buttons, coat buttons and buttons from my 1970’s dressmaking. Both of my grandchildren have enjoyed playing with the buttons by just getting them out to look at and to match them up (again lol). When we went to Southwold there was a Sunday market and one was selling fat jars of buttons, so I bought one for my daughter. Alice3

  4. Christine says:

    I remember a ‘Times’ article about recycling, when the youngish female journalist had, at length, brought her mother-in-law (who must be a saint) up-to-date about the need for recycling. She had later been into their garage, only to find boxes of neatly folded brown paper, bundles of used string, cleaned jam jars etc.. At least she had the decency to acknowledge that she had been ‘teaching her grandmother how to suck eggs’! Cheers, Christine x

  5. Barbara Beaton says:

    Yes, my mum had a button tin too! All sets of buttons the same were all carefully threaded together so that she knew how many of each she had if she needed buttons for a new garment (my mum was a great hand knitter and machine sewer). I loved to play with the loose odd buttons as a child – and often got into trouble for playing tiddlywinks with them! My mum saved all sorts though – zips, press studs, hooks & eyes, lace and other trimmings … she would even rip out hand knitted garments and re-use the wool! Hence the reason I’m such a hoarder of crafty stuff today – it runs in the family!

    • Joanna Sheen says:

      You’re not a hoarder Barbara, you’re a champion recycler, as so many of our mothers and grandmothers were. Joanna

  6. Joan Banks says:

    Hello Joanna,
    I have often repaired clothes that were ripped by putting sequins on or a length of lace because they were clothes I liked or belonged to my Daughter and She asked me to rescue them . I also save good wrapping paper and bottle gift bags.
    Love Joan x

  7. Anne says:

    My grandmother had a wonderful, though small, walk in pantry with shelves of jam jars holding buttons, zips, press studs, pieces of string, odd knitting needles and crochet hooks, needles and pins, hooks and eyes, elastic, zips, lace, ribbon, artificial flowers – you name it, Nana kept it! Everyone knew where to go if they needed knitting needles, brown paper, wrapping paper (carefully ironed) or any haberdashery item. She used to buy knitted items from charity shops, unpick them, wash the wool and then we wound it round the chair backs to help reduce the crinkles. The wool was then re-knitted and returned to the charity shops to re-sell! My Grandad’s shed was another treasure trove of things that might come in useful – one day. I’ve inherited the hoarding gene :o) Thanks for the memory jog, Joanna! Those were the days! Anne x


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