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Friday Favorite: Buttons

December 3rd, 2010

I’ve always like buttons for some reason, I can’t quite explain it. I’m drawn to their usefulness and beauty. I remember going to the Warther Museum when I was young and being in awe of her button collection. They were all laid out to look like quilt tiles. I wanted to make one myself someday, I’m sure I’ll never reach her total of over 100,000 buttons, though.

I distinctly remember sitting in my paternal grandma’s living room and pouring out her button jar on the carpet. I’d spend quite a while organizing the buttons by size, color, shape. She had quite a variety, some round, some oblong, some smooth, some covered in rhinestones. I had my favorites that I’d linger over as I’d put them back in the jar. I remember doing this often when we’d stop by for a visit.

When my grandma died back when I was college, I asked for her button collection. I was happy to get it, still in the same jar it was in when I was little, with my favorite buttons still inside.

Last summer, my maternal grandmother died, and I too asked for her button collection. I don’t have memories of looking through her collection much, but I’m glad to have it all the same.

I have my own small button collection in a jar. I don’t specifically buy buttons, I try to acquire in the same way my grandmother’s most likely did. Through extras on clothing or picking them up off the sidewalk. If I’m making rags from a shirt, I always cut off the buttons and add them to the jar.

I’m sure I’ll keep slowly adding to my collection and maybe I’ll even make a design with them someday. (like this fabulous tree on Flickr) I wonder how many buttons I will collect in my lifetime without ever specifically seeking them out.

Do you have anything like this that you’ve been fond of since you were a kid?

19 Comments to “Friday Favorite: Buttons”
  1. Helen Tristram on December 3, 2010 at 5:15 am

    I think a child has had a deprived childhood if there has been no button box/jar to play with.
    I remember playing with one as a child. I have one which my daughter played with and now it is my grandson’s turn.
    My grandmother did the most exquisite embroidery and some of her work was used to demonstrate Anchor Embroidery threads in the USA. In the old days she kept them all neatly in order by colour in a large thick Sheffield telephone directory. I inherited them when she died in 1971 and still use them from time to time. I haven’t inherited her love or talent in that direction. I do a lot of patchwork and quilting instead on her Jones Treadle sewing machine bought in 1932.
    Love your blog which I follow daily. Will try your cookie recipe this weekend.

    Reply to Helen Tristram's comment

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Friday Favorite: #Buttons #aboutme #miscellaneous #fridayfavorite […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Friday Favorite: Buttons | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  3. Shel McIntyre on December 3, 2010 at 9:36 am

    My Nanny (dad’s mom) had a seashell collection that I loved to play with when I was little. I still remember the little pink conch shell and the cowries that looked like they had little teeth. I’m not sure what happened to those when she passed away. I did inherit a lot of her kitchen stuff, though, which was fun to go through.

    The button collection I currently have came with the 1950 Singer my dad bought from an elderly neighbor. I had so much fun going through it for the first time! I think there’s so much you can learn about a person from the little things they collect. Thanks for bringing back such fond memories. :)

    Reply to Shel McIntyre's comment

  4. Sense of Home on December 3, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I have an old tin that belonged to my great uncle, when he died we found the tin full of old buttons, the kids loved to play with this tin of buttons when they were little.

    There is some cool button art over at


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  5. Rhonda on December 3, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I did the same thing you did! At my grandma’s house in her basement where she would sew she had a treadle sewing machine with a rolltop cover. Inside there was a jar with so many buttons! I would play with those buttons every time we went to her house. I miss her and her buttons and all the wonderful quilts she made on her big quilt rack. Ahhhh memories …

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  6. Michelle on December 3, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I too have a mason jar of buttons that were my grandmothers! I keep them on my fireplace hearth. Love them! Miss her!

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  7. Annette on December 3, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I too have a thing for buttons. My mother and grandmother had this large tin full of buttons; some loose and some still on the cards. Mom blessed me with the collection just a few months ago. I love to open it up and wonder at the stories these buttons hold.

    Reply to Annette's comment

  8. Alyse on December 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    My grandma had TONS of buttons. I always had to play with them while I was at her house.

    I wish I knew what happened to them.

    Reply to Alyse's comment

  9. Michelle on December 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I went through my grandmother’s buttons when I was little, too….many times to pick one out to put on something she’d made for me. When she died my aunt took her button collection. But I got her knitting needles…they’re wooden and beautiful. I love the reminder to remove buttons before recycling shirts…why didn’t I think of that?

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  10. amy on December 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Funny…..I have my grandmother’s button collection too…..As well as their sewing stands….I would play with one grandmother’s in particular every time I visited….I loved all of the shapes, sizes and colors…..and I loved equally the boxes she kept them in…..When I inherited the sewing stand I also received the contents as well…..old spools of thread, various bits of cloth and needles….but for some reason there was also a plethora of slip strap things……Maybe I can find some artistic way to display those…..:) Just kiddin…..My grandmother would be horrified!

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  11. Kathryn on December 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    In spite of the fact that folks seem to want to start collections for others (my Dad is a dairyman & everyone seems to give him cows; hubby’s grandma liked a couple of roosters & bought them & all of a sudden everyone was buying her roosters!), i don’t want folks to start a collection for me! (My hubby & i have a enjoy squirrels & have a long standing duck joke, but we don’t share these with other people fearing they will start giving us memorabilia.)

    My current thing is “If it fits in a jar, i collect it!” Meaning, i have 3 decorative glasses. One has buttons, one has rocks, a third has shells (the shell jar is pretty full). I’ve always loved buttons, the sizes, shapes, & colors. I still enjoy that. In fact, since we don’t really “need” anything for Christmas, i encourage folks to give me a unique button they may have or see. Fun! :)

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  12. Helen on December 3, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I have childhood memories of playing with my mother’s button box. I then had my own button jar which has recently progressed to a button box. Its funny how looking through all the buttons brings back memories of various things

    Reply to Helen's comment

  13. sarah on December 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Buttons, shells and rocks (pebbles) I could be happy doing nothing with them and they bring me so much pleasure and comfort looking at them. Great post & pictures.

    Reply to sarah's comment

  14. Sincerely, Emily on December 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Oh, yes! I have my gram’s buttons as well as my other grandparent’s buttons. Recently got my mom’s buttons too! Tins and jars full of buttons! Such great childhood memories. There are so many fun things like that – collections of “things” that I have. Shells, insulators, old door knobs, old oil lamps, old keys (a big favorite!). I just took some photos of some of the old keys I have. Hope to do a post on those soon. Your buttons photos made me smile. I think of all those shapes and colors and materials those buttons are made of. They were always so fun to touch and feel and play with.

    Thanks for the memories!
    Sincerely, Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  15. Janet Anderson on December 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    What a lovely post, thank you for bringing back so many memories! For me it wasn’t buttons specifically but it was sewing related items and I was thrilled to be given my materal grandmother’s sewing box after she passed away. It was one of those wooden accordian types that open upwards and outwards and was built by one of my uncles for her. It was (and still is) full of little treasures like cards of needles from Woolworths and random buttons and wonderful wooden spools of thread. That combined with my pateral grandmother’s incredible talent with a needle (she would copy clothes from the Eatons catalogue without a pattern and crocheted tableclothes and doilies from machine thread) spawned a lifelong love of handwork.

    Thank you for the memories. :-)


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  16. Corner Garden Sue on December 5, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I love your button photos! I remember sewing buttons on clothing, and mending socks when I was a girl. I keep forgetting to ask my mom if she still has her sock egg. I also remember stringing buttons onto thread with some neighbor friends.

    Also, part of the reason I garden is because we had neighbors who had vegetable gardens and raspberry bushes, and I decided I would do that when I grew up, too.

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  17. […] flit about at the feeder, listening to my collection of Christmas music, seeing my grandma’s button collection on my shelf, baking up a storm of delicious holiday goodies, and looking at the Christmas lights […]

    Reply to Sunday Photos…A Few of my Favorite Things « Not Dabbling In Normal's comment

  18. Julie on March 14, 2011 at 5:43 am


    I have those same memories, but I took it much further and began collecting them in earnest when I was about nine or ten. Last year I finally decided to start a button shop, mostly so I can continue to buy buttons without having to store them forever.

    I *hope* my daughters and granddaughters will appreciate my collection someday the way your appreciate those of your grandmothers. :D


    Reply to Julie's comment

  19. Warm & Cozy | Chiot's Run on November 16, 2013 at 8:00 am

    […] wear it as a regular scarf if I want. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I LOVE buttons. I’m lucky enough to have received both of my grandmother’s button collections as well […]

    Reply to Warm & Cozy | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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