Button, button, who’s got the button

It’s not quite dry, and it needs the buttons sewn on, but the Must Have Cardigan is done.

Mhccardbut2002

Aren’t those fabulous buttons? I have great button mojo lately. The ones that so many people (including me) loved yesterday on the Kauni Cardigan were from Fabricland (a big chain Canadian fabric store) where I seldom find anything I love but totally scored this time. These swirly ones are from a beautiful button and ribbon store in downtown Portland – I can’t recall the name now, but someone will help me remember, I’m sure. It’s a totally fantastic shop. Edited to add: Ahh, the wonders of the internet. The store was the Button Emporium & Ribbonry, and in fact, these very buttons (and the ladybird ones in the picture at the bottom of this post) can be had on this page.

Mhcperbutdet2002

Buttons drive me nuts. I love them, I think they can make or break a sweater, but they have to be procured somehow, and I’ve never been much of a shopper. I never think of buttons until I don’t have the ones that I want, and then nobody does. I’m forever cruising from shop to shop in the village, my sweater jammed in my purse, engaged in a hopeless search for a button that only exists in my imagination. (I buy dresses the same way. Decide what I want, then go looking. It never works.) I have better luck shopping the button bin I inherited from my grandmother than I do shopping the stores.

Buttonbingcto2002

The trouble here is that you can’t have as many as you would like. I find grand old buttons in here, but there will only be three when I need five, seven when I have eight buttonholes, or worse, there will be twelve beautiful old vintage buttons and I’ll be saving them for a chance when I need all twelve. (I harbour a suspicion that the reason that there are only two or three of some of these great buttons is because somebody already broke a set and what’s in there are leftovers.) Every once in a while I find something perfect in the old button bin, and every once in a while I find some in there that delight me so much that I’m inspired to make something to go with the buttons.

Twopinkbuttons2002

I love that when I sort through those buttons they’ve got a history to them. They’ve all been worn before, or at the very least, bought before, and I have great images of my grandmother and great-grandmother snipping buttons off of old clothes, or shopping for them in a store. I imagine my Gramy holding up her project to the rack of buttons just like I do, or maybe just buying them at random when they struck her fancy, and I feel like this bin is sort of a time capsule of her taste. She either liked these enough to buy them, or well enough to save them. (Although really, the thriftiness of this clan can’t be underestimated. It’s possible she just couldn’t stand to throw away something that was still useful, but even that says something about who she was.)

That bin, and that idea has inspired me to start my own button bin. I’ve started looking for buttons when I don’t need them, when the pressure is less, no sweater breathing down my neck, no set of specifics I’m looking for. The Kauni buttons and the buttons for the Must Have are buttons that I bought when I wasn’t on the hunt. They came from my newly begun button stash, which is turning out to be as much of a good idea as the yarn one was. It’s like a personal button store where the whole shop is to my taste.

My button bin is young yet, and It doesn’t take up much room. (I also just mostly wiped it out by removing the two sets of buttons for these sweaters. I don’t mix mine in with my Gramy’s, and I love the idea that someday my grandchild might own several generations of button bins.

Mybuttonbin2002

I sure hope he or she knits or sews or something, or this whole fantasy could be a little stupid.

Do all families have button bins?

484 thoughts on “Button, button, who’s got the button

  1. I love the button, they do make the sweater. I had a button box from my grandmother but it has disapeared so I am starting one for my self too.
    I can’t resist a button sale and always stop to look at the buttons in the store when I am there.

  2. You bet I have a button bin and I have button all the way from my grandmother and great grandmother in Holland. I love sifting my hands through those buttons like sifting through sand. Yes, it is the history that makes my button bin so neat!

  3. Yes–My mother has a Button Tin. It doesn’t have the same pedigree as yours, but there’s a lot of vintage buttons in it.
    The swirly buttons are absolutely amazing! Just looking at them makes me want to button-shop : )

  4. I have my great-grandmother’s buttons, both in a jar of “used” and cards of “unused.”
    I also have about 60 cards of floral bias tape. I do not know who bought them. They do not match (not each other or anything else) and none are used. Apparently whatever was wrong with the bias tape purchaser is also wrong with me, because I couldn’t bear to get rid of it either.

  5. LOVE the must have buttons! Very, very pretty. A button stash wouldn’t take up as much room as a yarn one, either, would it? Great idea!

  6. I have several inherited button bins, from my grandmother and some passed down from my great-grandmother. I also have some collections that I picked up over time. There is something really special about those old buttons.

  7. I had a small button bin from my mom – it was mostly her buttons with a small assortment from my grandmother. I kept it in a tupperwear container. It made a nice noise when you shook it. My daughter found it. You can see where this is going. The button bin has disapeared somewhere in time, in a previous move, never to be found again. Alas.

  8. I save the extra buttons that come with store-bought clothes – you know, the ones you get for the shirts and pants that never lose a button – so I guess I have a button bin of sorts. Maybe I’ll transfer them to something clear and put it on the mantle and start adding my own finds because when I need a button, I need a button NOW.

  9. I wish my family had button bins. My great aunts were crafty, but not like this. What a wonderful item to pass down — treasure!

  10. I have both my grannies button bins. One came in an old cigar box and one came in an old tin or some sort of salve, long used up. Sometimes when I go through the buttons, I wonder at the garments that some would have adorned, because some of them are just plain old butt-ugly. But one never knows, what fashion might cycle around and they’ll be all the craze.

  11. Yes, I have button bins, too. One from my mother and one from my mother-in-law. I also have buttons from my grandmother and great-grandmother. I love them, and so does my daughter.

  12. I just started my button jar this past weekend! I also started a bead jar and ribbon jar. I like being able to see all the colors swirling around inside.

  13. We have 2 one with white buttons, and one with cool old used colorful buttons. I love going through the button bin.

  14. My family has a button jar, and it was always my favorite thing when I was younger to dump them out and organize them by size/color/shape/etc. Now to control my compulsion, I knit. But now I have a strong urge to start a button bin…

  15. My family does…although it isn’t as grand as a bin. My grandmother gave me a big jar of buttons, fairly mismatched, but I love to look through them.

  16. It sounds like your buttons are from The Button Emporium in downtown Portland. As soon as I saw your picture, I thought I should go there at lunch to get buttons for my latest project. Lo and behold, then you mentioned the very place I was thinking of! It is a wonderful shop, and the staff there is also very helpful.

  17. Oh, did my mother have a button tin! In fact, my playing with it as a toddler resulted in my mother’s pledge to stop cursing, something she actually managed to do (out loud at least). Have to blog that story…

  18. I have my Grandmother’s button bin (a very nice wooden circular box – imagine a hatbox only 4″ tall with inlaid wood) – but alas no buttons by time I procured it. Funny, my Mom gave me the box, but not the buttons.
    I’m in no hurry to get them, I can wait a few decades more.

  19. I totally forgot about my grandma’s button tin! I used to love looking through it as a little girl- you always found something different each time. She was a McPhee too, hmmm… coincidence?

  20. Yes, I have grandmother’s jar. I think many are in there because she never threw buttons away with a worn-out garment. Recycling is not new!
    I also have a large baby food jar full of pearl buttons stamped from the shells dredged from the Mississippi River in SE Iowa. The button factory was going out of business, and I know grandfather bought this jar for 50 cents…when I was a young child! Grandmother surely used some; I received an almost full jar, and have used them on my daughter’s sweaters since they were young. Still have 3/4 of a jar. The tradition goes on…

  21. My family doesn’t have one…though I frequently wish it did!
    I did manage to inherit my Grandma’s knitting needle and crochet hook stash, though, which is quite larger than a button tin.

  22. I love it that you have your Gram’s button bin. That was one of my favorite things when I was little. I’d spend hours running my fingers through the box to see what came up next. What a treasure.
    Great to see you at Madrona!! and I ordered the Knit Visualizer upgrade as soon as I came home. Too cool!! Thanks for that tip.

  23. My mom has two button boxes – I think they’re meant for hardware or fishing tackle – that are sorted by color. One was her mom’s and one was her sister’s. They have some fantastic buttons in them and since I’m the only girl child, I’ll probably inherit them. Hmmm, now that I’m thinking about it, I should have her put that in the will. Just to be safe, ya know!

  24. Eeeee!!! Ladybug buttons!!!
    Did you buy them in Toronto? Are there any left at the store? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    (Sorry for the above outburst. I have this … umm … /obsession/ with all things ladybug.)

  25. I have an 8ft button string that was put together by my great-great grandmother that I treasure! I can trace many of the events in her life throught the buttons…..

  26. Yes, I have Ram-niss’ grandma’s buttons. I always look there first. She was one that would rather an item be used and not held onto for value. Though I will admit that I worry that the buttons that I put on a sweater of my youngest may be valuable vintage. Grandma would just laugh and not understand why I wouldn’t use them. Grandma’s are practical that way. πŸ™‚

  27. As a child, I loved to play with my grandmother’s and my mother’s button tin. I loved the old tins and the buttons inside. I was endlessly fascinated by sorting through the buttons to find matching ones. It always seemed that there were never enough of one type of button for the project. I now have my own button collection. Most of mine were acquired at auction sales along with the old tins. I have become a repository for other people’s collections.

  28. I have my Nana’s buttons, in an old tobacco tin; funny, because no one in the family smoked that I know of.
    My buttons are in a small metal box that I made in 8th grade shop class – I may have to upgrade that before I hand it down to future generations…

  29. Oh, how I love buttons! They make a garment go from meh to wow! Just upgraded a 2nd hand faux suede coat with new Italian buttons that cost more than the coat and were worth every penny!!!
    If you are ever looking for buttons in Ottawa, check out Darrell Thomas (fabric store) at 217 Bank St. His button collection is fantastic and he’s a great to have helping you. So if you book tour comes back to Ottawa, go for a button-enrichment trip!

  30. Right before reading your post I read one on Craftzine today with a link to the recipe for a one button tab hat. With all of this button talk about I’m really hankerin’ to find some cute vintage buttons!
    This has inspired me to send my grandmother a card asking her about her button bin. I’m sure she has one.

  31. I know that my mom has a button bin that she dips into occasionally. I also have one. There was a great store where I used to live that sold buttons by the pound, and for not very much.

  32. Well, I can’t speak for all families, but when I was a little girl, my grandmother asked me what I would like when she died. (I always think this is an odd thing elders do, but who am I to judge.) And so I said to her, “Well, I’d really like the button bag.”
    So I have the buttons in the bag made from a flour sack. I know where you’re coming from on the whole never throw out something useful. Which might also explain the amount of acrylic I’m not using in my stash.

  33. Doing some blog hopping and found my way here from Susan’s Making Do page. The sweater looks awesome. And your bucket of bottons………thats incredible. I’ve never saved buttons or bought them, until just lately. They aren’t cheap! Have looked for a few for specific projects and am now wishing I hadn’t pitched the can of them that belonged to my mother-in-law. But, I tend not to be keeper. I loose buttons of clothes and can never find where I put them in order to sew them back on. Bad habit. So, think I’ll start a collection place. I like your idea.
    I’m having a little get together tonight about 5 when I plan to start pouring wine, so please feel free to join in and swing on by.
    Sandy

  34. I’m actually not really a huge fan of buttons, but I love zippers so I put cute little chains on them and just let it dangle. But buttons…. I’m not a fan. I can’t do it. They’re cute and stuff, but it just interrupts the fabric and it bothers me a little.

  35. What I loved most about my mother’s button tin was the smell. I’m sitting here hardly breathing, because what you wrote made it almost almost almost conjure itself up in my nose, or brain or heart (or wherever memories live) and it’s slipping away even as I write this.
    The other great thing was that the tin was really hard to open, so there was always the chance of the lid suddenly bursting off and buttons flying all over the room. It was great!

  36. Any families with one or more crafters surely must have button bins. Mine is currently a drawer – I need to get a groovy container for them. I never find what I set out for when I go button shopping, but I always find something!

  37. We HAD a button bin, my grandmother’s, that I remember fondly from when I was a child and looking to make doll clothes (there’s a great way to use only 2 or 3 buttons, but they have to be really tiny…). My mother THREW IT OUT in a fit of cleaning one day since she didn’t sew or knit. She still occasionally apologizes for it.

  38. I have a lidded button basket and a half-full button tin. My mother has a huge button tin with buttons from my grandmother and great-grandmother. I’ve already said I want it when she shuffles off this mortal coil to that great fabric store in the sky (my mother doesn’t knit, she quilts).
    There are quite a few great button stash enhancing shops in Philadelphia, as well as wonderful eating and drinking establishments! Please have Jamie the wonder publicist add our fair city to your tour.
    I have a considerable bead stash as well … and a jar I’m not using for anything … maybe I’ll put the beads I can’t imagine using into the jar. I already use baskets of yarn as home decor accessories, why not beads?

  39. In one of my biannual scorched-earth housecleanings my button box (new, wonderful, accumulated specifically for sweaters buttons) disappeared. I do not despair, but am daunted by the archaeology it would take to unearth it.
    On another note, be of good cheer. Virginia Woolf’s younger brother wrote feelingly of the misery which was shopping with her. She would need an umbrella, imagine the Platonic ideal of the perfect Green Umbrella, and drive shopgirls (and her companions) mad trying to find that which did not exist. Good literary space to share.

  40. Yup, we’ve always had a button jar too. Almost as much a family tradition as the “junk drawer” that collects a strange array of pens, stamps, post-it notes, nails, and who knows what all. Did you see the incredible Celtic buttons at the Black Water Abbey booth at Madrona? Only $1 each (in sets of 4, so $4). Now I’m kicking myself for not having grabbed some “just because.”

  41. I have my Mom’s oldest sister’s button jar. She collected them, too. Mom was born when sister was 18, and she remembers as a kid watching her slowly go through the entire button display at the store, every time they went shopping!

  42. Oh my goodness, I haven’t thought about my mother’s button bin in YEARS! It was great for crafting as a child and I LOVEed digging thru it and seeing what was there to be found. I think she got rid of it while I was in college, but I am ready to start my own again, too. Great idea! And the sweater and buttons look great – what we could see…

  43. My grandmother was a gifted seamstress who made everything from couture for herself to couture for her 4 granddaughters’ dolls. I spent many hours amusing myself by combing through her button collection. She died at age 102 and one of my cousins, a seamstress herself, inherited the button collection. I have a button collection of my own, of a sort – not very exciting yet as I’ve mainly used it to save all of those extra buttons that come with store-bought clothes. But I like your idea, Stephanie, and think I will start buying fun buttons whenever the mood strikes. In fact, I’ll start this weekend at Stitches West! I know of at least 2 good button vendors who will be there.

  44. My grandmother had both a great button bin and a super knitting needle inventory. I loved playing with those buttons when I was little! Sadly, both buttons and needles disappeared. Of course, I have started my own button bin!

  45. Yes! Button bins (or button “tins” as we called it in my family) are indeed precious time capsules from our mothers and grandmothers. As a girl, I remember sorting through my mother’s buttons, enthralled by the colors, sizes and textures of all the little gems stored in the old Christmas cookie and fruitcake tins. I now have my own stash of buttons, and I hope my future grandkids are sentimental and reflective enough to feel the way you and I feel about the button-y treasures!

  46. I would love to inherit my Grandmother’s button bin. She is quite the seamstress and has an amazing button collection…maybe someday πŸ˜‰
    Btw, love those ladybugs…they are my favorite.

  47. I don’t know about all families, but I often buy buttons just because they’re pretty and I might need them someday. (I have those lady bugs. Aren’t they cute?) I mean… you never know when you’re going to need to sew buttons on a sweater in the middle of the night when all the shops are closed. Or maybe all the button stores will go out of business. Don’t laugh, it’s happened here. I now have to buy new buttons on the internet or drive 100 miles.
    One of my favorite places to shop for buttons is at the local resale shops (St. Vincents and the Salvation army). Those old folks who runs those places never throw buttons out either. As a matter of fact, one of the ladies will pin buttons together if they match, making the search thru the button bin easier. Wise woman.

  48. 24 years ago, when I was married for only 6 weeks, my husband’s mother died….with the dad already gone, it was time for all nine children to sit around the large, family kitchen table one last time and “divide” up all the stuff. There was hoards of things to go through and divide between the nine siblings…some quite valuable, and other items very sentimental as you can imagin. On the “first round”…my husband, being the ninth and youngest child, picke the “Button Tin” It was the item closest to his heart, filled with endless memories of his Mom, and filled many a long winter, boring afternoon with inventions of games, and such….yes, the button tin is still around…enjoyed by all three of my children as they grew. Something about opening that lid, and peering inside….
    I need to start one too~

  49. I too, have a button bin..funny enough, I bought the whole tin at a yard sale one day when I was about 15. When I first started knitted, I always attached a single, vintage button to the end of a scarf as a sort of signature. I don’t do that as much anymore, but I still sure do love my bucket of buttons!

  50. Ah, the button tin…it brings back memories of scooping a handful and letting them slide through the fingers back into the tin. All kinds of buttons, plain ones, fancy ones, ugly ones (what the heck did this come off of?!), but saved because they might be needed someday. Now I have my own tin started (some buttons, like some yarns, just beg to be taken home); and still keep that large cookie tin from my youth. Just don’t ask me exactly where it is.
    PS Saunaknitter? You don’t really knit in the sauna, do you?!

  51. Oh yes, we have a button tin (though we call it a button box in my house). It was part of my inheritance from my grandmother, who gave it to me while she was yet living. I looked over the fabric, yarn, needles, crochet hooks, and sewing machines, then got to the button box. “I don’t really use old buttons that often,” I remarked, and she held her hand out and said, “If you don’t want the button box, then you can give it and the rest of this junk back to me and I’ll have it buried with me, thank you very much.”
    Only after she died did I find a bunch of antique horn and bone buttons stuffed in the bottom of a shoebox. Evidently, she took the good buttons she had brought over with her from Finland _out of the button box and hid them from me_, button philistine that I was.

  52. Beautiful buttons, beautiful sweater, and a beautiful trip down memory lane.
    I had my grandmother’s button tin, passed down through my mother. Both of those women were mighty sewers, so the button collection was huge. The tin had enjoyed a previous life holding fruitcake, and made a wonderful sound when shaken. Like anita J at 1:47 I loved just sifting my hands through them (just as I now love sifting through beads or marbles – what is that about???) Where oh where is that button tin now? Lost and gone forever, and my own collection in a cardboard box just doesn’t have the same romance.

  53. When I was younger, my grandmother gave me 3 or 4 coffee tins of old buttons. I LOVED going through those tins and finding treasures! And because I didn’t know any better, I used them for weird crafts involving glue guns and wooden cut outs. Then I stuck the tins in our basement and forgot about them.
    My grandmother died 4 years ago, and my mother went through her extensive sewing and craft room, picking out thing she wanted to keep, and things she thought I would like (like a full set of colorful aluminum knitting needles!). A few months later, she confessed to me how sad she was – she KNEW grandma had a large collection of old buttons, but couldn’t find them! I told her “Mom, they’ve been in our basement for years and years!”
    Happy happy! All families should have button bins.

  54. I grew up with a button bin that was kept in a tin just like your gramma’s. My mom still has that one, but I found a tin several years ago and have started my own. It’s useful and fun to go through and I’ve found mine has started to have the same smell that gramma’s had; kind of musty and nostalgic and magical all at the same time.
    Wow, thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  55. I have more of a “button mason jar” or 3. I keep all my button collections in separate jars that way I can go looking for the antique ones, the white ones, or (my favorite) the flourescent ones. Plus, the jar helps me to shake them all around and have a whole new view when they are sitting on my sewing shelf.

  56. I’ve just decided to solve the button problem by knitting the sweaters to work for the buttons instead of the other way ’round. It will be an adventure, in any case!

  57. Mine does – my button jar was started by my mom and given to me when I left home (with my hand-me-down sewing machine).

  58. A lady i worked for runs her dog training school in an old warehouse that used to house her dad’s BUTTON collection. He had thousands and THOUSANDS of buttons. she got rid of most of them, but some of them were on sale in the shop, alongside dog squeaky toys, prong collars and leashes!

  59. I would LOVE to have a button bin, especially with buttons inherited from my Grams. I have started a small button collection but at this point it is truly pitiful.

  60. All the buttons are lovely. I can completely identify with family button bins. I remember as a little girl admiring the big jars of colorful buttons my mom had saved — they’d belonged to my great grandmothers and been handed down to her. I remember once mom sewed me a stuffed bunny rabbit and she let me pick out antique buttons for the eyes — I chose glass buttons that had a sort of bumpy raspberry-like texture. I always thought they were so neat.
    You’ve inspired me… I think I need to start my own button collection now.

  61. Some of my best memories are playing with Grandma’s buttons while she sewed. I’ve asked for her sewing machine and her button jar in her will. I am the oldest granddaughter, and I’m throwing my weight around on this one!!!

  62. I agree, there’s nothing like a Button Tin. It’s a tangible piece of history and tells fascinating stories. And it’s always “Grandmother’s Button Tin,” have you noticed? Mom’s Button Tin just doesn’t do it justice.
    It is always spoken of with capital letters, and children were allowed to play with them like so many gemstones. Shake the Tin and we make music! Count the buttons and we’re doing math! Arrange the white ones like a snowman and we’ve got art! Or simply arrange them all into categories, look upon it with a contented sigh, and pour them lovingly back into the Tin.
    Wow, I guess you tapped a memory for me!

  63. I have my grandmother’s button box (a saltwater taffy box) and a teeny little brown paper bag of itty bitty white buttons. She used them when she knit my Barbie clothes. The bag is held shut with a paperclip and is so worn that it feels like brown suede. I also gained a gallon ziplock bag full of someone’s button stash at a women’s shelter thrift store. One day when I was donating clothing, I saw the bag of buttons in the donation heap. When I marveled over them, the assignment clerk said “Those old things? Want them? Take them, please!”
    So I did.
    I think I’ll take a suggestion from the posts here and put them in a big glass jar and display them.

  64. Absolutely. My mother’s was an old Folger’s coffee can. It was green. Dumping out all the buttons, sorting through them, and filtering them all back kept me busy for hours.
    Right now my button stash is just in a plastic box, and boys aren’t big on buttons as entertainment so I think I need to show the buttons stash some love and change its home. Plastic isn’t right for buttons. You need metal containers for buttons…like mom’s…

  65. Yeah for button tins/jars/baskets/bins. The tin I refer to as “my” button tin contains great grans, grans, moms and my buttons. It’s not a silo-sized, nor even a suitcase-sized collection, but it is the oddest sense of connection to my past when I (sometimes for no reason) sort through it. Must be a cultural womens’ history thing?

  66. Next time you’re in Boston, you must go to the Windsor Button Shop. I has lovely yarn as well, but in the front of the store is a large table with a mish mash of all kinds of buttons. You can troll through there to see if you can find the perfect set (I have for some projects). They also have a wall of buttons from which you can choose, but I love going through the table.

  67. Shamefully, my aunts saw fit to toss my grandmothers button jars. Apparently they did not see the value in that piece of history or in the memories I have as a child sifting through the jars for treasures or playing a rousing game of “Button, button, whose got the button” with my grandmother & cousins.
    I started my own jar, which sits on the shelf above my own Mr. Washie (who eats buttons) and hope to someday delight my own grandchildren with a rousing game of an infamous button game.

  68. I loved playing in the button bin as a child! The way they slide through your fingers as you dig into them and lift your hands back out again as if you found pirate gold! A delicious feeling.
    I want one! I parts of my mother and grandmothers, but I need my own. I’m starting my first adult sweater, ergo I will start a button bin too!
    Thanks for the lovely reminder.

  69. Yep, my great grandmother kept hers in a metal box with a hinged lid and a flower painted on top. As kids, when the button box was passed to my mother, we used to pour out the contents onto cookie trays and sort the buttons to our heart’s content!

  70. Count me in for the Button Tin Bin crowd. Sits on top of the spools of thread tin bin. Spools of wood, styrofoam and hard plastic. It’s a historical time line of spools. My button collection is gram’s, mom’s and mine all in one.

  71. Not all families do. Mine doesn’t, which makes me sad. My great-grandmother was a great sewer and knitter, but sadly almost none of her things remain. *must remember to start button stash for future children/sweaters*

  72. All families SHOULD have button bins. I recently found my mothers (I had had it for a long time but didn’t realize what it was).
    I spent hours sorting through them when I was a child and it’s so wonderful to have that tactile sense of memory return to my 30-something self.
    So, when your grandchildren come along let them rummage through your button bins at will.
    Then, when you’re gone they’ll have a wonderful memory like I do of my Mom.

  73. I grew up with a button tin – I think it may have been my grandmother’s. I have been thinking a lot about that button tin lately (mostly because I needed buttons for something) and wondered if my mom still had it. I didn’t have it, and wanted a button tin…so when I went to New York for Rhinebeck, my friend Kim and I went to an antique store…and I spent yarn budget money on an old glass jar, complete with wire ring seal hickey-do, full of buttons. I dumped some of them out the other day and my son (age 10) went nutso looking at them. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  74. Funny, it seems that button bins run in families. My Grammy had a button box (an old cigar box–cigar boxes also run in my family), and my mother had a button jar. The button jar made a particularly satisfying sound when one swirled all the buttons in it. I’m sure my mother still has them both.
    If you have just a few matched buttons, you can use them to make earrings. Just a thought. (An old boyfriend–whose grandfather worked in a button factory–once gave me a very large bag of old buttons and I made many pairs of interesting button earrings. I should’ve kept the bag of buttons when I didn’t keep the boyfriend…LOL!)

  75. I have 3 button bins, my grandma’s, my best friends grandma’s and my own collection that has come from flea markets, thrift stores, antique shows and new purchases. I believe they are wonderful!

  76. Oh Yes! I do have a button bin that I inherited from my husband’s Grandmother (I also have her sewing machine, notions and some knitting/crochet needles). I just went through it the other day and attempted to organize it. Stop Laughing!
    I weeded out all the crumbly old ones and gathered the loose rhinestones and glittery bits that need to be re-attached, and loosely sorted them by type in an old fishing tackle box. They’re so beautiful and interesting; they always inspire me to try and find something to fit them with so they can shine in public.

  77. My Mom has my great-grandmothers; its a magical drawer in great-grandmother’s Singer sewing machine cabinet. My sister and I both have smaller collections of our own, no doubt largely due to the fun sorting through that drawer and the feel of buttons running through your hands.

  78. I have a button bin I inherited from my grandmother, and she inherited it from her mother, an accomplished seamstress. I love every single button in that bin, and hope one day my own children will as well.

  79. the secret I have for buttons is to always buy them on clearance and in great quantities (why not, they’re on sale?) I try to get at least three cards worth…more if they are really cute! I have three button containers around here…one is a big cookie tin, one is a vase for the extra pretty ones, and one is a smaller tin for the singles or ones I think will look great for scrapbooking.

  80. I recently lost my father to ALS (horrible disease) and my beloved dog, Belle. I have my grandmother’s button box and interestingly enough find some comfort in touching the same buttons that she touched and my father touched when he was a child (the dog had nothing to do with the buttons, just a reminder that life can be fleeting.)

  81. Oh my gosh does that bring back lovely memories! Thank you for that. My mom knitted, mostly afghans, and sewed everything else, clothes for us, quilts, all our Halloween costumes until we were too old to dress up anymore. She didn’t have a button bin, she had what can only be called a button stash. It was in this huge monstrosity of a case thing. It had little clear plastic drawers that were about 2 inches or so squared but about 4 to 5 inches back. All the buttons were sorted, some by color, some by size. There had to be at least 40 to 50 drawers in this thing. Then there were the odd few in her sewing machine drawers. What ever happened to that? My mom died back in 1994, I have to ask my dad what he ever did with all those buttons. Knowing him, they’re still in the basement buried somewhere under his train stuff… I know if it were me, it’d be buried somewhere under yarn. It does run in the genes!

  82. Ours was a button jar, when I was little I was allowed to play with the buttons while my mom sewed. I have since inherited both my Mom’s and Grandma’s jars and they are now in a bin. I’ve used them for many a project, most recently eyes for a felted hedgehog.
    I can’t remember the name of the store in Portland, but my Bonus Mom was just talking about it this weekend (she runs a custom clothing studio and loves the button store)

  83. Well, I guess my button tin is old enough (now) to have been my mother’s, however I started it in the late 60’s. I love the buttons from OLD peacoats, and old/vintage clothing I picked up from 2nd hand and Salvation Army stores. I’ve got buttons still on cards with very low prices from those years as well – waiting for the perfect item. I love the sound of them and their textures and colors.

  84. I have my great-grandmother’s button tin, and another that a friend found at a garage sale and bought for me because he knows I collect them. I think he paid fifty cents for the whole thing! Hardly any of them match but that’s the beauty of it. Once I found enough cream-color and ivory buttons–eight of them all the same size but each a different pattern–and sewed them down the front of a 40’s-style print dress I made. Talk about unique!

  85. Yep, my mom has her mom’s button tin, inspired mostly by thrift I think. I can remember my mom cutting the buttons off my dad’s old shirts and pitching them in the tin. I’m mildly embarassed to say I still do this (plus saving the extras that seem to come with everything these days) but they’re not in a nice tin – they’re in a breast-pad box. Very tasteful. I should probably upgrade that.

  86. Yes – or at least we do. It was a tin (or metal hinged box, as someone has mentioned) when I was growing up, and when my mom wanted or needed to spend a few more minutes sewing, she’d hand me the tin. That tin of buttons could keep me busy (and in clear sight) for nearly an hour. Sorting by color, size, number of buttons I could find, etc.
    I’ve started my own box, but it just isn’t the same without the tin box.
    Central Yarn Shop in Portland, Maine has a wall of buttons too…

  87. I have a button bin. My grandmother had a button bin that my sister took everything good out of (and she had nothing to use them for…grrr). I snip the buttons off clothes before they hit the trash can, I buy buttons just because I think their neat, I save buttons almost obsessively. My 6 year old son loves to look through the buttons on occasion and is currently waiting for me to make something that will require the use of my buttons shaped like crocodiles. Since I currently live in CA, it could be a while before I come up with a sweater suitable for our weather that needs 6 crocodile buttons.

  88. I have button jars too. Can’t bear to throw them out. As a child, we used to string the pretty ones onto wool. I have a huge button jar that was my MILs. (she also saved zippers – I finally was able to give THEM up, due to the rust factor). And I recently scored some vintage buttons at a Mennonite Thrift Shop, from old Royal Canadian Air Force uniforms. THAT will be some special sweater.

  89. You betcha we do. Mine came from my maternal Gramma (she’s the one who always called the big piece of furniture in the living room a chesterfield) and when I inherited it, I found two hat pins in amongst the buttons. Good thing I dumped it out, first. They’re all beautiful — pins, buttons, little bits of fabric. And the smell. Mmm. I open that cookie tin to this day and I can still smell my grandmother’s sewing room. Thanks for the warm fuzzy.

  90. I’m not sure if my family has a button box, but I do keep a pretty dish of all the spare buttons my new clothes come with on my dresser. Over the years I should have a lovely collection of single buttons!
    On an unrelated note, there was a large open field behind my grandparents’ house and we would always find buttons on the path. For twenty years we collected buttons and we’re still finding them! As kids we thought that there was an old button factory that burned down on that location, but it turns out the farmers would use old rags as fertilizer. Over the years, the fabric decomposed, leaving the buttons. I find that fascinating! πŸ™‚

  91. Ah, buttons. I have my mother’s, two grandmothers’, and one great-grandmother’s button and notions hand-me-downs. All were sewers and knitters. I consider it a sacred trust to see that each item goes to a worthy garment.
    I also have tens of thousands of buttons I have accumulated over the years from auctions, antique stores, and junk shops as I plied my trade as a vintage clothing dealer. Amazing how many times I have found a button or two that absolutely matches those missing on a beautiful, old garment.
    My very favorites are the ducky and bunny buttons of mother-of-pearl that have graced generations of baby sweaters on both sides of my family. I only hope that someone, maybe a granddaughter, will be as inspired by them as I have been. So far, no takers.
    You and your readers might also want to make a button bracelet of the singles in your stashes. It is done by stringing and tying on elastic cord— no two alike.
    Enjoy your inheritance, Stephanie. Think, it doesn’t take up nearly as much room as yarn stash. Do keep the container closed around kitty, however, or you and your vacuum cleaner will be picking up buttons forever.

  92. Mine does! I grew up with my mother having buttons in two tins and they were wonderful to (scatter) as a child. As soon as I left for what I thought was adulthood, I started a button collection which were cut off clothing throughout the years. Since then I have purchased buttons along the way, always when I don’t need them. Like you, I never find what I need when I go shopping. I house mine in a blue antique Mason jar with the lead/glass top.

  93. Every house should have a button tin. My absolute favorite buttons are three generations old now. They are small, smooth, flat milk-glass buttons with a shank, and they have a delicate floral design on the face. I had them on a favorite blouse until the blouse wore out, now they wait on their string in the tin. One day the right garment will need them again.

  94. I have my mother’s button box and both grandmothers’ boxes. They are kept separately (I don’t know why) and they provided hours of entertainment to me when I was a kid and to my daughter as well. Whenever I buy a new blouse, I dig through the boxes to find better buttons. A simple white blouse becomes a knockout with the right antique brass buttons!

  95. I know my mother has a button bin/box. I remember digging through it as a child. And I know that part of those buttons came from people that I was too young to have ever met. I also remember cutting off buttons from ragged, tattered shirts of dad’s and putting them in the bin. I have a box of my own, started as a teenager when I started sewing. However, I have to confess that a large number of the buttons are the extra ones that come with my dress shirts, blazers etc. I have to put them somewhere I can find them, right? And yes there are several cards/envelopes of buttons that I’ve found on my travels that will just be perfect for something, sometime.

  96. When I was in high school, I made a dress to use lovely wood buttons and matching shoe buckles from my grandmother’s button bin. The dress followed me to my current home, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be retired except for the buttons, of course.
    I think (hope) my mom has that bin. I have my dad’s (who made clothes for my mom) and my own.

  97. I don’t have it, but Mom did have a button tin. She sewed a lot, and was constantly going to the button tin. Me, I got to play with the buttons. πŸ˜‰ In fact, I distinctly remember a set of dark green buttons that, except for the color, were exactly like that big red one on the left in your 4th picture!
    Meanwhile, I have very few buttons, and just realized I’m planning at least two cardigans in my future. Since I hate the thought of hand-sewing in zippers, I guess I’m going to have to track down some buttons! (I can do really good button-sewing – with thread shanks and everything. [g]) Btw, the url for the Button Emporium here in PDX is http://www.buttonemporium.com – not like you couldn’t guess, but thought it might save you and maybe later interested readers-of-comments a titch of time. πŸ˜‰

  98. It’s called Button Emporium & Ribbonry; its website is http://www.buttonemporium.com My ex-sister-in-law took me there about a year ago, and it was marvelous and I happened to snag a car on the way out, which is why I can tell you its name now. πŸ™‚
    My mother has a fabulous button collection; mine is ok, but not half as awesome as hers.

  99. I have my grandmother’s button tin, and you’ve inspired me to start one of my own … LOVE the buttons for your Must Have cardigan.

  100. Yes! My mom has a huge button stash and when I was little I used to dump it out on her bed and sort it into all sorts of categories. A few years ago I missed having a button stash of my own so I kick-started it by buying a bag on ebay, and then added all my buttons falling around in the bottom of my sewing box and from all the extras that came with my clothes. Currently, they’re serving as “ballast” in the jars that I stick my needles in — I use various glass jars (like especially nice spaghetti sauce jars) for my needles, and the weight of the buttons helps keep them from tipping over, especially for the long needles. Also, they look nice.
    Sometimes I still dump them out on the bed and sort them into various categories. πŸ™‚

  101. I had the most fantastic button bin from my grandmother. It was truly a time capsule. There were tokens a local restaurant had issued during the Depression, horse shoe nails, ivory buttons, plastic buttons, little metal buttons shaped like a bunch of grapes. Unfortunately, one day my (then very young) dd got into it, and they all magically disappeared, one by one. I still have the tin they were all in, but the buttons are gone. I’m still kind of sad about that.

  102. I absolutely love this cardigan! I’ve been moping around because I can’t make one because I can’t find the Paton’s pattern booklet anywhere online. The Internet usually has everything there is to be had. Then I went to Joann’s – a large chain fabric and crafts store here in the U.S. – to shop for buttons, I might add… and there it was! On a rack next to the cheap-a** yarn – Paton’s Street Smart booklet. Wahoo! Time for the happy dance.
    Back to buttons – your picture of your button bin whisks me back to childhood. My mother had a similar button bin and I would happily play for hours – sorting and matching and running my hands through them. Don’t you just love how they feel on your hands when dig deep into the pile and don’t you just love that click-y sound they make when you stir them all up? My button bin is an OCD kind of arrangement using one of those storage boxes with all the little compartments – everything is categorized by size and color. The right button is easy to find, but they aren’t as fun to play with as my mother’s button.

  103. We have a button bin. It is really tiny, definitely needs some work. My mom always had one when we were little.

  104. I have one. My mom had one. I think my grandmothers’ were consolidated with my mom’s. I even made my daughter’s first rattle with old buttons from the jar put in a clear plastic aspirin bottle. She loved shaking it AND seeing the buttons inside.

  105. When my sister and I were very little my mom let us pick some of our favorites from her button box to start our own boxes. Now my collection’s much bigger and I like using the odd ones for purse closures, or baby clothes that only require a couple buttons at the shoulder. I like explaining the history when I give them away. Though I did get furious last year when I drove by a friend’s recently vacated apartment and found her couch cushions sitting on the curb waiting for the trash, with my aunt’s vintage pressed-glass buttons still on them. I marched right over and took them back, let me tell you.

  106. i definitely have a button bin, created mostly from my mom’s old sewing basket and from antique store finds. i’m always too precious about them to actually use them for anything though – i just like to run my fingers through them, and pick up my favorites and examine them from time to time. my buttons are probably one of my most treasured little collections!

  107. We’re a button box family, too. My maternal grandmother’s box went to an aunt, so mom started her own (which I have raided many times). And I’ve come across a couple at garage sales, so have started my own button box. Recently, my Grams (paternal) passed away and I inherited her sewing basket, with her button box, darning egg, great old wooden spools of thread, pinking shears and all. It’s wonderful to have that tradition!
    Plus, I tend to shop the same way…I go looking for the perfect item that exists in my imagination, and then hope to find it in the shops. Which is probably why mom sewed so many of my clothes in high school. The perfect item had to be MADE. I still have a fabulous coat that she made me about 20 years ago. I’ve worn it again this winter and it still gets comments from people.

  108. PS – Where did you get the ladybug buttons? I’m not quite as obsessed as Lorelei up there but I do have a friend who *is* as obsessed…!

  109. My mom has a button bin, and as a kid, sorting through it and making pairs or piles was my favorite thing. I’m going to have to ask her if I can inherit it – it is so much more fun than my own bin πŸ™‚

  110. My family does have a button bin. It is three generations old and ours however has everyones buttons tossed in. Growing up my grandmother on moms side was a huge sewer and made a lot of frumpy clothes for me and ill fitting geeky stuff for my brother. ** shudders**
    Now I want to go buy some… do I shop for buttons or work on a raglan sweater……..

  111. My sisters and I have a long-standing agreement that, no matter how valuable, none of our parent’s possessions are worth fighting over. (A cat fight over who gets that God-awful lamp being the height of trailer trash behavior) This lasted until the day I found out my baby sister absconded with Gramma’s Button Box!!

  112. I love the buttons πŸ™‚
    We used to have a Fabricland. I didn’t know they were a chain. I was very sad when it went away. Especially because its now a Les Schwab and its 2 blocks from me. I’d die of happiness if I had a fabric store 2 blocks away! πŸ˜‰

  113. I don’t know about ‘all’ families but this family sure does… we have the button bins and I ALWAYS check out the buttons in a store… and yard/estate sales, and especially the big sales… loves me a bin O’Buttons!

  114. I sure have enjoyed the walk down “Button Lane”. Since we moved so often, and my mother was not a sewer or a crafter, I have no family button tin. I do have my own button stash, which I am now considering putting in a jar for display purposes as suggested by many in these comments.
    However, my huge memory is not a button tin but a hankie box. My mother had an old balsa wood cigar box in which she kept all her pretty handkerchiefs. They were lacy and flowered and lovely; back from a time when a lady always carried a hankie in her purse. It was my special pleasure to be allowed to take them out, unfold and admire them. Then carefully folding them, to restack in the same order in the box. I still have this box and often think about trying to display some of these lovely handkerchiefs. I’ve seen examples of hankies pressed between glass and framed, but, ultimately, I can’t seem to remove them from their natural habitat, the hankie box.

  115. I have the button bin that belonged to my husbands
    grandmother.. and part of our activities this summer was digging through my mother’s button bin and I totally regret not taking one of the buttons that I looked at because now I need it!
    I will have to have her post it to me!

  116. I have my mother’s button tin (actually a plastic tub). It’s quite comforting to know that I’m not the only one who takes pleasure in sorting through the buttons and reviving memories of the things they were attached to and the people who wore them.
    I’ve only recently starting adding to it other than the spare buttons that come with new clothes. I would be slightly nervous about using the 40+year old buttons in case they have gone brittle.

  117. I have a button jar, as does my mother, and at least 1 of my 2 grandmothers. Gramma K. used to keep us entertained when we were small by letting us play with her button collection.

  118. Those ladybug buttons are the cutest! I have a quite-small button collection; wooden ones and a few horn ones to choose from for someday-I’ll-knit-another-Aran, and some fimo clay ones picked up at Stitches because they were too cute not to come home with me.

  119. i have a button bin given to me by neighbors several places ago. they had gotten it, and a whole sewing basket, from the house of an elderly lady who was moving to a nursing home or had passed away (i had just had a baby – my brain was mush) and they were cleaning up her house for her. they knew i liked that kind of stuff. there were several small button bins, a whole collection of crochet hooks, zippers, elastic, thread, needles, and other assorted odds and ends. she had clearly collected them for ages, and it spoke so powerfully of who she was that i felt like i knew her, even though i never did. i love it, and i will keep it and add on to it before i pass it down to someone else.

  120. The Button Emporium is one of my FAVORITE stores in Portland. I go there on a regular basis with my WIP to find buttons. They have lots of styles and shapes. Plus the vintage ribbon rack is to DIE for!
    I am glad to see you shop in all the right places here in Portland, Stephanie!

  121. My mother has those transparent plastic multi-stack containers for her button storage. Or, maybe my niece has already inherited those (she is a student at textile designer school. Age 21. Oh, youth!)
    My mother, and me too, can’t throw away anything still useful. I already have a button stash not so large but totally from my family’s old cloths. The only reason I quilt sometimes is that I can’t throw away blouses/shirts/sheets(!) so easily.

  122. I needed 4 buttons for a sweater. Found 3 that I loved. Found a set of 4 that would work and bought them. Also bought the 3 I loved in the hope that I might use them some day!

  123. Yes!!! My mother’s has not yet passed to me, but as a child I loved to sort them into piles of different colors, or size, or the metal ones, or the sparkley ones. The tin itself is beautiful as well. You are so right that we should all start our own button tins to pass on! I’m starting mine today!

  124. I have a button jar that is made up exclusively of those extra buttons you get with new sweaters and pants. Some of those items are long gone, but I still have the buttons!
    They’re beautiful and practical, just like yarn…

  125. I just sewed 7 buttons on to my Must Have Cardigan on Monday – day off work for me! Those 7 buttons – all the same colour & size – came from my husband’s grandmother’s button bin. I was lucky enough to inherit both his grandmother’s button bins. My favorite thing to do as a child was to ‘organize’ the buttons in my mother’s bin. We didn’t have toys but I think I would have preferred the buttons anyway. BTW I decided to follow instructions on this pattern which is quite disciplined for me, and found the top button is a little higher than where the curve for the v-neck starts. Did that happen to yours? If anything, I made the body of the sweater a bit longer than the instructions, (I guess I didn’t follow the pattern EXACTLY) so having the button a little too high doesn’t make sense.

  126. i have a gram button bin too! though yours looks much more interesting. mine borders on just being frugal with a LOT of plain white buttons clearly off of gramps’ shirts!

  127. My mother had a button stash and I could never figure out why until just recently. I often wonder what happened to my grandmother’s button stash, and I still wish I’d snipped the buttons off that beautiful black blouse that got ruined in the laundry when I was in high school…

  128. Both my grandmothers and my mother have button bins. I have many fond memories of running my fingers through the cool buttons and pulling out the ones I really liked, just to look. My mom’s button collection is in a red polka dot tin with a brown and white lid. My grandma had several containers, one an old snuff tin.

  129. I inherited my Gran’ma’s button box – including the lovely old box. Fascinated my children and the buttons were great for teaching them their times tables!
    It’ll get passed on…

  130. I do! My mom gave me the Button Tin a couple of months ago. In the past I have raided it for various projects. When she gave it to me she told me that it is a tobacco tin (I always thought it was a coffee tin) and it belonged to my great-great grandfather! It’s probably more than 100 years old.

  131. Oh, yes, there have been a few button jars in my life – I was just looking through my mom’s at Thanksgiving for buttons for my best friend’s new baby sweater. You’re inspiring me to start my own, so I’ll have to search out some good button venues here in NYC. And I’ll hit up dear Windsor Button next time I’m back in Boston. Can’t wait to see the sweater on the model!

  132. I have some buttons that were in my mom’s sewing room, but I don’t know that they go back generations. I would like to start a button stash, too. I’m very picky about buttons. I have a February baby sweater waiting for the perfect buttons right now. I’m thinking daisies, but they have to be the RIGHT daisies. For my niece’s baby cape, I ordered pewter troll buttons* from a company in Minnesota or Wisconsin, something like that, that imported Norwegian items. I called to order and spoke to a delightful woman with an accent right out of the movie Fargo, who told me she wasn’t sure of the final price because she adds postage once she buys it at the PO, and of course I could just send a check when I received the buttons. How can you not love that sort of faith in people? Buttons ought to have a story.
    *Because my sister called her Troll Baby (most lovingly, of course) because she was kind of grumpy and bossy.

  133. My mom has a bag full of buttons, for which I have already raided for the calorimetry. πŸ™‚ And no you are not silly for thinking that future generations will use them, I assume if you “trained” them well they will be more than happy to enjoy your passoin. πŸ™‚

  134. My grandma has a button tin. It was an old metal cookie tin that she had filled with buttons: buttons from old clothes, buttons she’d bought for projects, etc. I would sit and play with buttons for hours when I was a kid, sorting them, counting them. (I’m easily amused, what can I say?) I have my own button tin now. Its a metal cookie tin. It has all kinds of buttons in it, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

  135. Absolutely!
    I have my Aunt Sylvia’s mother’s button bin, and my mother also recently gave me hers, telling me she’s too old to hold a needle. I also won’t combine them, it seems like heresy to me. None of my sisters-in-law have button bins. I feel very sorry for them, and they don’t even know what they are missing.

  136. I’ve unfortunately lost my grandmother’s button basket (which I recall had buttons from Boer War uniforms and Northwest Mounted Police uniforms circa 1880’s), but I’m way ahead of you on collecting my own stash. We returned to Ottawa this last summer from 16 years in Washington, DC–that’s 16 years of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (best 2 days of the year). It turns out that my favourite buttons from all those years are actually from Philosopher’s Wool right here in Canada. My next favourites are from Peace Fleece in Maine. I love the handpainted buttons they bring in from Russia. If you haven’t seen them, check them out. Their wool is fantastic too, although their website doesn’t do justice to the richness of the heathered colours.

  137. I have a lovely old button bin that has treasures from my grandmother, mother and me. When my children were small, they spent many hours on the floor of the sewing room playing, touching, making imaginary roads with the varying shapes and textures. It makes me smile to remember those times.
    I wish the same for you…

  138. Yes, I have buttons from my grandmother and mother (some still on the original cards with prices of 10 and 15 cents.) I love them, but seldom use them because they are a piece of history and I hate to cut them off the cards. Maybe I should make a shadow box out of the best…

  139. I have those exact ladybug buttons (bought from Windsor Button in Boston)! I’m not generally a button hoarder, but I saw them and had to have them. I’ve been waiting for a worthy pattern ever since.

  140. I found myself nodding uh-huh to everything you’ve said. The delight of something unique and functional, the imagined history of the previous wearer–utterly fascinating. I love scouring antique marts (especially the el-cheapo kind) and have found jars full of antique/vintage buttons on more than one occasion. I’ve used them countless times in various applications, and their collective beauty when displayed in glass jars or other creative ways is pretty hard to beat.

  141. Oh yes! The button tin. The one I played with as a child was round and dark blue with a beautiful gold-tone interior that never lost its shine – even with all the shaking and pouring back and forth of buttons. It had a little dent on one edge of the lid which made opening it rather precarious. When Mum died in 2002 I think my sister got the tin, but I may have traded her something else for it, I’ll have to check the sewing area. My daughter played with it on my Mum’s kitchen table, but sadly by the time my granddaughter came along, Mum had the tin tucked away and was gone 2 years later. I remember the smell too! What magic button collections contain, every family should have one – they are memory makers.

  142. Yes to the button bins! My mother still has hers, though, so I’ve started my own with some vintage buttons and all the ones I’ve saved from spares and worn out clothes since a fairly young age (grin). The LYS closing helped fill it some more, too! It fills a cigar box now, perhaps it’s time to find a nice hatbox for it.

  143. My mom used to work at a Fabricland in Washington. I wonder if they are the same company? The Fabricland she worked for, though, had a blue logo. Hmmm.
    I’d love to know the name of that Portland button store (maybe in your next post?). I, too, have the worst time finding buttons. I think that is in large part due to being very new to the area and being stuck looking for buttons at Jo-Ann Fabrics.
    I think all the women in my family have their own button bins. I have not yet had the privilege of inheriting anyones buttons.

  144. Yep, I’ve got 2 button bins – one from my mother, and one from my mother-in-law. I love looking through them, although they aren’t all to my taste.
    I also have a handful of buttons that my daughter made when she was seven or so. She’s 18 now; I’m waiting until she gets old enough to appreciate them, and then I’m going to make her something using those buttons. (Right now she thinks that anything she made when she was a kid is just stupid – despite the fact that I wear or use every single little art project she gave me.)
    Perhaps I’ll start my own button bin . . .

  145. Although I don’t have any childhood memories of my grandmother’s button box (she lives in a different province) I’m sure she has one and I’ll end up with is someday. I, myself, have a huge button collection. It started with a bag of assorted buttons I bought on impulse at Zellers when I was unemployed and borred. One of the things I love so much about buttons is getting to sort them (I’m quite OCD like that) so I bought them entirely so that I could spend a few hours sorting them into one of those white plastic craft boxes with all the little compartments. I now have 6 of those boxes and a huge jar (think the kind that elementary school cafeterias get their mayonaise in) that I received from someone on Freecycle that I’m still sorting through. I spend much more time sorting them than using them; in fact I’ll be using buttons from my own collection for the first time on 2 baby sweaters that I’m currently knitting for two of my pregnant friends.
    Did you get those ladybug buttons at Courage My Love? They look like they would have come from there.

  146. My mother inherited her father’s (I think it was his) button bin, and once we went through them all and tried to sort and colour-coordinate.
    I love the idea of keeping them all together in one bin, that’s something I’ve never actually done with mine. I don’t have many, but they have started to accumulate in my sewing box and they might like a place of their own!

  147. I have a button bin, too, and it’s a mix of old buttons, and new. When I used to do a lot of sewing, I loved to shop for buttons; they were often the inspiration for a project. I’m the same way with greeting cards; I can spend hours browsing for cards, and tuck them away until I can send them. I’ve been known to laugh out loud, or exclaim ‘This is perfect!’ at a card display – which would explain why it’s never busy or crowded when I’m there.

  148. My mom had a plastic button box, in which she kept spares & castoffs & extras, and some of those had come from her mother. I (bless my only slightly OCD self) have a sectioned hardware sorter which stores those & the others I’ve accumulated to date, sorted by colour.

  149. I think it is a requirement that every home should have a button tin. My mom has her own plus one from my grandmother.
    I do not have a large quantity of buttons to need a tin yet, but I do have a small ball jar that is slowly being filled with the extra buttons that come with shirts, random other buttons found and some procured from thrifting. Now if I could find just the right tin I will be all set!

  150. OMG, another gorgeous button! And so beautifully paired with your Must Have sweater. I. Want. That. Sweater.
    Fortunately, I have a great button store in my area — they always have the perfect button for my sweater projects.

  151. This is so funny! I was just thinking yesterday that I need to start my own button stash. I even have the tin ready, hee hee. (It used to hold green tea in its previous life.)
    I never met my paternal grandma — she’d passed away before I was even born — but we used to have the old coffee can (pale yellow with flowers — I remember it so well) she’d used as her button bin. I loved looking at and playing with all those old buttons when I was a kid. Sadly, my mom threw them away when I moved away from home to go to uni. πŸ™ Clever move of her, I’d never allowed them to be thrown away if I’d had the chance.
    And hence the need to start my own button bin! Thanks for the inspiration. πŸ™‚

  152. My Mom still has her button tin – an ancient old fruitcake tin. She won’t give it to me – yet. I have my own, but in a fit or organizing a while back, it (like my collections of zippers, ribbons and other notions) is in a clear plastic tub. No imagination. I need to change that…

  153. The sweater is magnificent and the button just add that extra zip to pull the whole thing together.
    My only bit of advice for the buttons is to just go to sales, think of the max number that you usually use on projects, buy that many and sew the extras on the project so that if (and we all know the powers that be that this DOES indeed happen) you lose one, all is not lost and you won’t have to search high and low to replace just one button.
    Also buy the buttons that you love. You pick the fibers and the colors, so it stands to reason that you will have some project in the future that will fit those perfect buttons that you have chosen.
    And any that don’t, your progeny will thank you for the large number of buttons that you left for each of their projects.
    See a good thing all around, please yourself and please the future generations of knitters and or sewers!
    Oh and thank you so much for all the laughs in the Casts Off book. I’m in nursing school and my brain is mush but it just feels so good to read about this stuff happening to other people. And the laughing really does help my stress level. Thank you so very much!

  154. I have found that by cruising second hand stores, I often find rather ugly blouses, with fabulous buttons. If I buy the shirt for $1.00, I get great buttons, and what was an ugly shirt becomes rather great quilting material. I’m sure I’m not the only one who recycles in this way, though.

  155. Yes, my family has a button collection that spans several generation. Ours, however, is in a fishing tackle box, so that it can be somewhat sorted into categories! (fishing is also a family thing– seems like a strange pairing of pastimes, but there it is)

  156. You betcha.
    I have my husband’s grandmother’s button bin.
    It’s saved his pants many a time, or would if I actually felt like sewing buttons back on them for the millionth time.

  157. My mother had one that went to my younger sister, who sews. When I moved out and into my own home I started my own. This was 25 years ago and it is nice to look through them and remember their past.

  158. You know, I rather hate to promo the monolith stores, but in my own desperation to find buttons worthy of all of the work I just put into something, I have found that WalMart often has some great options! Their line is a different one than those featured in the big fabric stores (Fabricland, Fanny’s), and they often have excellent kid-themed buttons for small sweaters…
    (The really nice non-chain fabric stores often let you buy buttons out of little drawers, so you can get as many as you actually need…very fun, and worth looking for!)

  159. Yup. I started mine before my three were born (and that’s a long time ago). I suspect my sister scored our Mom’s. That’s what I get for getting married first and going off to California for a couple years.

  160. Right now my mother has all the family buttons in a big mason jar. I remember that being one of my playthings when I was a kid. Open up the jar and dump them all out, run your fingers through them, look for the ones where you know what they came off of. Good times, those.

  161. Thanks for the info on the Black Water Abbey buttons, Tracy. I’m going to Stitches West, and they will be there. I’m lusting after the celtic leaves. BYW, they sell online.
    Windsor Button Store sells on line, too! I went to college in Boston and remember going there with my sister, but not many of the details. I’m going to have to pick her brain.
    Yes, our family collects buttons, but nothing so formal as a tin or box. I have a beautiful hand thrown ceramic bowl for some of my more crafty buttons, a basket for some of the buttons I’ve had for years, and a pile of plastic zip lock baggies with hand made buttons I’ve collected from the artist. Now I’m inspired to get a lovely larger tin and put them all in there. My version of getting organized! I do have a wonderful candy tin, probably from the first half of the 1900s, but I doubt it is big enough.
    Thanks for the memory vacation.

  162. Yes. All *crafty* families have button bins. Mother has a chest of drawers that two of them are full of buttons. (The whole thing is filled with notions. Bias tape, thread, buttons, zippers.)

  163. My mother-in-law gave me her mother’s button bin – and I’ll probably be passing it down to my daughter. I also have a lot of buttons that my mother bought for sewing projects when I was small.

  164. You have no idea how good it feels to know I’m not alone in deciding upon a dress to buy *before* I go shopping (and that it doesn’t work for you, either). Thanks!

  165. When I was first married, my father-in-law got all the old stuff out of storage for us. That was more than 40 years ago, and I still have the mason jar, tin screw-on lid, filled with real mother of pearl shirt buttons. It had belonged to his mother, a seamstress. I didn’t realize at the time what a treasure it was, but I sure do now! Glad I kept it; I didn’t keep the husband πŸ™‚
    Somehow, I just can’t add my own button stash to the jar, it’s in a small round box like a hatbox. I think from reading all the posts that I need to find a tin box with a tight lid!

  166. for sure, doesn’t everyone? and my mum keeps buying nice buttons for me when she finds them in the charity shops, so there’s never any end, thank goodness! πŸ˜‰

  167. I have a button bin, but go thru emotional upheavel everytime I get rid of clothing…do I cut the buttons off a garment that someone else could still wear, or give it the way it is? Usually, I only save the ones that are very unique. All my usable old (or unfitting usually the case) clothes go a thrift shop that allows woman entering the work force free shopping…so its really tough to cut off something on a perfectly good garment. Guess I can save the really good ones and so on something else. EEEK.
    Of course, the easiest ones to put in the bin are the extra’s you get with new clothes.

  168. I’ve got my grandmother’s button bin, my mother’s button bin, two button bins of my own (I used to work in the garment industry and picked up a lot of buttons at work) and my six year old daughter has started her own button bin!

  169. I have my grandmother’s sewing box, which contains some buttons, and my own button jar. My grandmother was a bit more glamorous than I am; I also have three large boxes of costume jewelry from her. I may occasionally be at a loss for nice buttons, but I have a wide assortment of dramatic brooches available.

  170. I have several little bags or cans of buttons I have bought simply because they were too cute to pass up…but they’re mine, and not my grandmother’s–grandma was not just too thrifty to buy ahead, she was so compulsive about housework that she would rather give them away.
    However, on a whim, I just purchased two bags of buttons from Wal-Mart–huge bags of cheap plastic buttons, in all sizes and colors. My not-quite-two-year-old daughter has sat on my lap for HOURS with a size 18 tapestry needle (!!!) threading sockyarn through these buttons while I knit, and wearing them as necklaces until the cat confiscates the necklace for his own diabolical purposes. I will save all of these buttons for that memory alone.

  171. My great-grandmother was a seamstress, and my mom has her button bin. She also has one of her own. I used to love to go through and pick out the spiffiest buttons of them all. At some point in the late 1980s, when this might have been fashionable (but probably wasn’t), I sewed a bunch of them to a sweatshirt in a random pattern.
    One day I will have Mom’s bin and great-grandma’s, and I’m not sure I could mix them together. My own button bin is still a miniature collection, but I’m sure it will grow with time!

  172. Yes I have a button bin! One that I started 30 some years ago. Various buttons I just thought were pretty. Some picked up at flea markets, garage sales, etc.
    My daughter has one as well. She started hers for the 100th day of kindergarten. She had to have 100 something. She chose buttons. We went through the clearance bin at JoAnn’s and found enough to make 100. Twelve years later, she is still collecting buttons. She has quite a stash. Now they come mostly from clothes she has modified from thrift shops.
    Never under estimate the vintage look of mismatched buttons!

  173. My mother had a Button Jar. she passed away back in 1982 and I don’t know whatever happened to her button jar, my dad probably tossed it out, not appreciating the beauty of the button jar. Many is the time I wish I had my mother’s button jar, but you have inspired me.. I’m going to start my own button jar — especially since stitches west is coming up, and they always have LOVELY buttons for sale at Stitches West!

  174. I just came back from a button hunt! Had to have the perfect buttons for a cardigan for 6mos old Adam! Came home with adorable baseball buttons and doggie buttons and sailboat buttons and…
    Button Stash!
    Fond memories of my Nana and Mom’s stashes and now I have my own.

  175. Love the button box (it’s a box in my family).
    Is it just me, or is there a button box smell? I can’t quite describe it, it’s a comforting smell of old dust and stale air, and old plastic, and maybe some wood mixed in.

  176. We had a button jar from my great grandmother – one of those giant square jars with the green lids. Most of the buttons got used in the clothes we made while I was young and the rest went to my sister the award-winning sewer long before I got to knitting garments. We had a lot of basic buttons since my mother and grandmother had both used more than they’d contributed. I do remember some beauties that led me to search out patterns using the right number.
    I started stashing buttons last year. Not sure why it took me so long as that’s the kind of crafter I am. I have them in nice divided plastic boxes so I can easily see them all at once. I’m almost up to two full boxes of 18 kinds.
    http://www.karenjoseattle.com/karenjoseattle/2007/08/button-button.html (will this address get censored here?)
    I may have to order some of from Portland, though. Thanks for the link. Yours really work beautifully.

  177. Oh! I am so happy to hear that I have such good company in button-nuttiness! I have rarely confessed my “thing” for buttons as a result of kindergarten trauma.
    My most favorite blouse back then had lovingly selected, purposely mismatched buttons. Wearing it to school one day got me laughed at, so I never wore it again. It’s only taken me 42 years to get over it.
    Looking for buttons in North Texas? Bennos Buttons!
    When I go to garage and/or antique sales, I’m on the prowl for buttons always. Did you know that years ago, young women collected and traded them like baseball cards?

  178. My button box (an old English candy tin, actually) was my grandmother’s, and I remember very well sewing buttons on a knit washcloth, to learn how to make knots and not bleed to death from a needle stick. I keep my buttons in the same box.

  179. I have a button bin from someone– my father’s mother, I think. I never met any of my grandparents, but I have the buttons. They’re from the early part of the 20th century, and I use them when I can. I covered the yoke of a denim jacket with the mother-of-pearl ones years ago.

  180. I inherited my mom’s button tin (an old Bailey’s tin with a hinged lid!) when she died eight years ago. I love it, and I use the buttons (I think she’d be happy with that… that they’re used and added to projects). I still remember being a young girl and trying to tell my mom that the button box would be more beautiful if all the buttons were free-flowing and not tied in bunches on string or still on their original cards. I liked the inspiring “sifting through” that I would do in my grandmother’s tin that was that way. My mother never would have it, and would get frustrated that I was always trying to convince her to allow the buttons to roam from their matches. As an adult, I understand the practical reasoning, and keep many in their clumps. But there is still such fun in the search at the bottom of the tin! Gosh I miss my mom.

  181. Not only do I have old buttons from my family, and other friends’ families, I have some of the buttons in YOUR bin!!! Truly. If you want to use one and you don’t have enough, check with me first!!!
    Also, now you make me feel bad for wanting to “whack” a zipper on the vest I’m making…..
    Decisions… Decisions….

  182. I inherited my parent’s button collection, in addition to the ones I have accumulated during many garage sales. They had so many (thousands and thousands!) that I spent a whole week sorting them out into colors ad types (metal/ wood. etc.) An OCD dream!!! But I encounter the same problem…there never seem to be enough of the really cool ones to make up a set.
    Mary E

  183. I have 4 old danish butter cookies tins full of buttons that were my Great Grandmother’s. She made all of my Grandmother’s and my Mother’s clothes and some of the buttons are just so lovely I can’t stand it…and some have been on 3 or 4 different garments already.
    my favs are about 15 tiny little (1/4 inch, maybe?) abalone flowers that my Grandmother said started out on a blouse….all the way down the front. I love them.

  184. I have a small button bin in my sewing case that was my Mom’s. I also have a large button bag that’s stashed under my knitting chair and I just love going through it. It was my Grandmother’s and there’s so much fun in there! I go through it, first thing, when I have something to put a button to.
    I never find good buttons in stores… but then, maybe I’m shopping the wrong stores.

  185. Mum’s button jar was my very favourite childhood toy. I would play for hours sorting and classifying buttons. Sometimes they were sorted by colour with sub-classifications by size or number of holes. Somtimes the main grouping was material type – all the plastic ones together, all the leather ones, all the glass ones, all the bone ones, all the metal ones, then sub-classified by some other characteristic.
    There’s little wonder that I became a librarian.
    Mum gave me her buttons very recently and they live in a big old coffee jar on the window sill in my home office where the sun picks up the colours. They are much more beautiful, evocative and special than my own extensive button collection.

  186. Absolutely – but more a button _tin_ than an actual button bin!
    Mum has a big tin of old buttons, I think most of them were her mother’s before she stopped being able to sew due to her arthritis.
    I have my other grandmother’s (smaller) button stash, which she kept in an old cigar tin! It has some very pretty tinytiny buttons in it – these are the ones I enjoy looking at.

  187. Yes, those are fabulous buttons. πŸ™‚
    My mom has a button bin; although, I do not know where it could be. Somewhere in her room, I’m only guessing.

  188. I have a collection of buttons from all sorts of sources, including the ones I take off my husbands work shirts after they have become to thin to wear anymore. I cut the shirts into rags and then the buttons go into the jar. It would be a waste to toss them.
    I love to look through boxes of saved buttons just to think of the stories they contain.

  189. My mom has a button bin. She’s a tailor-turned-quiltmaker, so I guess that’s not surprising. I don’t have a button bin, but I DO have a bin in which I intend to put buttons from now on, largely due to the whimsical wisdom in this post.

  190. I have a large tin of buttons that was saved/salvaged by my mother-in-law. They were painstakenly arranged on strings by color and when my daughter was little she used to love to play with her special “necklaces”.

  191. I have my great grandmother’s buttons. They are just as yours…many, adorable, and often not quite the right number. But I treasure them anyway! Nice bit of history. Thanks for sharing about your buttons!

  192. I have got to know if that button bin is a Cadbury’s Roses tin. We always had one as a sewing box at home in Ireland. My Mum had a button box for ever and said she was keeping it for her future grandchildren. One day I called her up and asked if the button box was in order and she knew instantly she was going to become a grandma.

  193. I certainly have a button bin. Or rather, button boxes. I have my buttons arranged by type and color into 3 cross stitch thread holders. The new and old are mixed, but there are 3 generations of buttons in those boxes. Whenever I find buttons that hit my fancy, I add to the collection. One of my guidelines is that the buttons should be on sale or in the clearance bin. Those are usually the best buttons that I find…

  194. Aww, I have a button bin too (that was also stored in an old Danish Butter Cookie bin until just recently.) Mine was inherited from my husbands grandmother and I just adore it. Most of hers were chopped off of old clothing and they have almost all been used before. It has the same drawbacks as yours though, I am always short a button when I need it. I dream of several three or four button sweaters that will use us the gorgeous stash that she’s left me. πŸ™‚

  195. my mum claims to have “lost” or otherwise disposed of her button jars when she moved … i’m hurt and lost by this (as an only child i knew i wouldn’t have to fight to get them — may it not happen soon) but i’m coping. i’ve started my own in the meantime, it’s quite small but i’ll get there. my husband thinks i’m wacky for tearing the buttons off things and buying a thrift store sweater because the buttons were great. i still have hope it’ll turn up and i can go digging through it and all those wonderful old musty smells it offered will return.

  196. I believe my mother still has one. When I was younger, she used to sew a lot. She no longer sews, so maybe she’ll give me her buttons? I currently have a button baggie–just a plastic bag half full of buttons. A lot of them are the extras that come with clothes, so there might be only one or two, but I’m okay with mixing if they coordinate. Now you’ve got me thinking I’ll switch to a tin.

  197. I need to start collecting buttons. Do you goto the local thrift stores and pick up items just to get their buttons?
    Oh I just put your book on hold at the library I cant wait to read it! Your book will be one of the first books in a while I read not for reviews on my website (pjmommy.com) but for my own fun!

  198. Oh my, I have my Gramma’s buttons too! She had a million and gave them to my mom (when her eyesight was too bad to sew anymore) and my mom gave them to me because, well, probably because she was sick of listening to me whine about “having to have them” (I begged for 30 years, she finally caved…it was worth the wait!). My mother has her own button box (which I will get too, when the time comes) and I have started my own collection too! So yeah, I’d have to say, most families have a button box (or bin, or ziploc etc.)…

  199. My family has button tins; I suppose most thrifty families do. My grandma has several actually (one for white buttons and one for colored buttons). And my mom, who is a sewer, has her own button stash…I still catch her snipping buttons off shirts she’s going to throw out because “buttons are expensive and you never know when you need a few plain buttons”. I get the feeling that’s why there’s lots of white buttons in the stash but I can never find enough to make a decent matched set.

  200. I have a lovely old tin of family buttons. When my kids were little tykes, they just loved to pull out the tin and sort through the buttons. A lot of great memories and some beautiful completed projects. πŸ™‚

  201. Yup, my grandma had one that I played with all the time. Unfortunately when someone was cleaning out the house, they threw them out before I could get to them. So I have started my own to in hopes that someone will enjoy them in the future

  202. My mom still has my grandmother’s bin, but I have a handful I absconded (they were sparkly!) with. To augment my button bin, I always keep an eye for bags of buttons in thriftstores. Most are oxford shirt collar buttons, but sometimes you will strike gold. Antique stores will also sell button jars which are precious, but overpriced. Buttons. Ahh.

  203. I hope to inherit my mother’s (which happens to be hers and her mother’s) button bin some day. Until then, I’ve started my own.
    Incidentally, when shopping for buttons for a project, I never carry the whole garment. I carry the swatch which I’ve usually made with samples of the stitches used in the end-product. This was a useful lesson learned when public transit was the only thing getting me and my knitting from home to Tender Buttons in NYC and back.

  204. I have a button collection that I continue to build, and I also have multiple jam jars of buttons, inherited from my husband’s mother and grandmother. It is so useful to have “just the right button” when you need it! They are all sorted by color, too, by my husband the professor, who spent a lot of his life sorting fruitflies. He says in comparison, buttons are very relaxing to sort!

  205. I really think that people who knit (for the most part) are also button people. Necessity plays its part in this. I have an ancient button box inherited from a great aunt, from whom I also have many spools of thread, old sewing needles still in their paper wrappers etc. I also have my very own button boxes. Some are buttons that just struck my fancy at flea markets and button stores (now non-existant). Then I have a whole separate box, my baby/kid collection. Wait till you are about to become a grandma and start knitting like a fiend for the forthcoming precious child. Then you start hunting down the proper buttons that will enhance ALL the little cardis you will be making. At about that same time your darling daughters’ friends will probably begin procreating as well, and of course, you will be knitting for theirs too! Anyway, you will have this new need for the most wonderful buttons. Years later when the dust settles you will find yourself (as I have) with a darling collection of little pearl buttons, little animal creations, some mother of pearl fish (I’m pisces, so, well, you know…) and those red/white ones that someday would go on a red and white striped sweater (never got made). All these buttons…the great-aunt’s and mine will one day be handed down I’m sure to my grand daughters and perhaps their children. Probably none of them will be sewing, knitting, crocheting, tatting but will be sitting in front of their computers. My only hope is that they will be watching a session of Congress or a rocket ship landing on Mars, rather than playing computer games!!!!

  206. Our family button bin is starting its fourth generation! My nieces mostly use it for crafts, not sewn or knitted garments, but they really like to raid the button bin!

  207. I have a fishing box of buttons from 3 generations of women plus buttons I’ve acquired roaming through antique shops and flea markets. Sadly I almost never use them, as I’m not terribly fond of cardigans! So Stephanie, feel free to email me if you’re looking for something, as I’m always trying to find a good home for them!

  208. I wish my family had a button bin! I am always jealous of people who have interesting buttons. I have a handful of buttons, but they’re all the small (1/4″ or so diameter) plastic ones that aren’t really useful for much. Luckily, I have yet to knit something requiring a sweet button…but still.

  209. My Nana had a button bin too – we would spend winter afternoons snug in her house making dolly clothes together, searching for just the right button. Or just look through the buttons together.
    My Mom has most of her button collection now – and one of her own.
    Even with these combined button collections I experience the same issues when lookinf for buttons for my knits today…3 when I need 4 ad nauseum.
    Thanks for sharing your button story. I’m sure a grandchild of yours will have at least one skill that requires use of buttons – or he/she will appreciate the collection because of their relationship with you. πŸ™‚

  210. I used to have a button bin, but lost track of it years ago. Stephanie, I can’t beleive that sweater is already finished! It is lovely. I have a soft spot for gray and cables.

  211. My buttons are in a crystal water glass that belonged to my grandmother. I keep it in the same cupboard as all the other water glasses, above the stove. I see it every day and it brings me joy. My husband wonders why the buttons are in the kitchen and not with the other craft supplies.

  212. I forgot! At the Warther Museum in Dover, Ohio, there is a button collection on display! The museum is really hand-carved trains her husband made, but the button collection is great. She arranged the buttons into designs that take advantage of color and shape

  213. I have button bin that belonged to my grandmother and my mother has one of her own as well. I often go to those bins looking for buttons when I finish up a project. Just recently I used to brown corduroy buttons (like that orange corduroy one in one of your pictures) to finish off a neck warmer for my husband. I was worried when I found the first one that there wouldn’t be another to match it, but goody for me there were two of them!
    My grandmother was the kind of person that sorted things out all the time, so her button bin has little ziploc bags that are divided by color. Just feeling those little bags of buttons makes me feel closer to her.

  214. oh the wonders of the button tin! my gran had an old fruitcake tin (does anyone remember when fruit cake came in re-usable tins?) that was just crammed with wonders! i LOVED to dig into the tin as far as my small hand would go and then pull it out, allowing the buttons to dribble through my fingers in a fashion reminiscent of pirate booty!

  215. I’ve often purchased new buttons for boring clothes, but when I recently actually completed a knitted jacket for myself I went shopping on the dreaded eBay and found these people:
    http://stores.ebay.com/Treasure-Cast-Inc_Buttons_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZ1QQfsubZ12QQftidZ2QQtZkm
    the exact buttons I purchased aren’t on there currently, but they are just gorgeous. To me, they’re nearly as important as the jacket itself.
    I’m forever putting ‘away’ those extra buttons that come with shirts and things – I’ve no idea where they go. They’ve probably run off with all the spare socks.

  216. We used to have a button bin, but I don’t know where it came from or where it went. It may have gotten left behind in the old family house, I’ll have to ask my mom. =) Your buttons are really pretty.

  217. I have the buttons from my Mom’s button box, but the box itself bit the dust decades ago. (Probably from a certain little girl playing with it & its contents.) It was leather with her name embossed on the top in gold.
    I keep my buttons in a small vase next to the large vase containing my knitting needles. I may not have any of my grandmother’s buttons, but I have my very first pair of knitting needles. They are very worn blue plastic from the kit to knit a dress for my Barbie doll, circa 1960. Unfortunately, I don’t still have the dress.

  218. My mom had a coffee can full of buttons that I believe she bought at a garage sale. I believe she still has it. It was much like your gramy’s bin, I usually couldn’t find enough matching buttons for a project, but I thought it a purely tactile delight with all the colors and the feel and sound of rummaging through the buttons.
    I have a button tin of my own with not many buttons in it but I’m working on it.

  219. I LOVE shopping for buttons – remind me to take you to Button, Button the next time you are in Vancouver.
    Good news, it takes up less room than the yarn stash πŸ™‚

  220. My grandmother had a button bin too – only hers was one of those boxes with all kinds of little drawers, and she had them sorted into categories and colors. Flat, shank, red, blue, white – even covered buttons (usually crocheted). I remember pulling out the drawers as a child and looking through each button, and wondering where it had come from. My grandmother also taught me to sew, and we spent some time on the choosing of buttons. Loved it. I wish she could have seen me learn to knit…

  221. I don’t have an inherited button bin, but I have my box of buttons. When I give it to my child to play with, it buys me a solid thirty minutes of {knitting, sewing, alone} time. I love my box of buttons.

  222. I have a button bin, and it was my mom’s. I love it. I have the same problem, though, of never being able to find just the right number. You know what I do sometimes? I go to thrift stores and buy hideous old sweaters just for the buttons. It’s a real cash saver.

  223. Oh, I’ve got button envy now!
    Brought back memories of spending hours upon hours playing and staring at my granny’s button containers.

  224. I have buttons. I have jars of them sorted by color. A large number of them came from one giant ziplock baggie which I got at an antique mall for $2.35.
    My mom has a large number of buttons. She has my great-great grandma’s buttons from when she passed away when I was 9. (How many people are lucky enough to have known their great-great grandma?)

  225. We’ve two quite large button bins. There was a craft store going out of business and selling the entire bins for quite cheap, so Mom bought them. It’s been added to and some have been used.
    When I was little, we used to dump them into a kiddie swimming pool and I could just play in all the buttons.

  226. We have a button bag (mostly with buttons on cards still), a button tin (random stuff inherited from random people), and I have my very own (and very small) button pile. I think I need a tin of my own!
    I keep buying buttons for little projects and buying twice as many as I need thinking that I will make the project (like saartje’s bootees) again!

  227. On a totally different subject, if I may? You seem to collect “special” calendar days (ie: talk like a pirate day), so I thought you might like to know that today is “WHO-DE-WHO” day. That being the day where everyone (at exactly noon) is supposed to go outside and wave their arms over their heads shouting “who-de-who” in order to help chase winter away. Maybe next year an organized event would be beneficial for all of us stuck with the winter blahs.

  228. i’m just starting to get into button collecting.
    i’ve been looking on ebay (i shop for almost everything online), and i’ve found some gorgeous ones. my current favorite a large, transparent amethyst ‘compass’. it’s about the size of a toonie, and it has the face of a compass painted on. i don’t know what to use it for! it’s so gorgeous, the project will have to be special. i also got some vintage (1940s), hand-painted german duck buttons. i’m hoping to use them on a baby project sometime.

  229. I dearly love buttons, and isn’t it wonderful how many of us have these lovely memories of being allowed to sift through grandma’s button jar? It was like treasure, and I think it accounts for much of my addiction to beads.
    Wouldn’t it look terrific to use a variety of enchanting buttons all on one project? I think it would make a great touch on one of your sweaters.

  230. I don’t have many buttons with a history like yours, but I do have buttons I’ve collected over the years. We had very little money when we were first married and my husband was going to college. For some reason, I had fallen in love with a jar of buttons at a little antique/used everything shop. My husband took me there for my 25th Birthday and bought me that jar of buttons. I loved that gift!

  231. My grandmother inherited a button bin of great-grandma’s (all buttons from Norway). She started her own button bin and gave both to my mother when she lost her eyesight. My mom then started her own button bin (which is actually five small bins in random locations due to her ADD and inability to find one when she needs it…she just starts another). She gave me great-grandma and grandma’s bins (she was afraid she would lose them and I didn’t inherit her disorganization). I love those button bins. Now I think I need one of my own. I never started one, but I like the idea of having one of my own with buttons of my own taste (plus it will get a bunch of buttons out of my “notions drawer”). Thanks for the inspiration!

  232. My “inherited” buttons aren’t so much a bin as a random collection dating from my great-grandmother down to myself. I also used to work in fabric/yarn shops (a dangerous situation, to say the least) and at one point was the button buyer for one of the stores. This was a considerable spur to my natural acquisitivness and I have many, many beautiful things from those days. To say nothing of the 60,000 (yes, that’s correct) mother of pearl buttons I once bought from an out of business facotry in Kansas many years ago. Most of those have gone by the wayside now, but regardless I have a grand collection to maintain and add to for my neice’s inheritance some day. She’s only 2 now but I look forward to the days I can spend someday soon showing the buttons to her and telling her the many stories behind them.

  233. I inherited both my grandmother’s and my mother’s buttons – I absolutely LOVED going through those and using buttons that I had recognized since I was a child. Some of those buttons came off of the clothes my mother made for me.

  234. I love buttons – I started a button jar for my 10 year old niece as part of her sewing basket Christmas gift. All the buttons I scored for her were fantastic (and it grieved me a bit to let them go! each one was wonderful!) — and all were bought at Frenchies (a chain of Maritime used clothing stores).
    When (and I am optimisitic that I won’t have to change that to “if”) youcome to Nova Scotia on your book tour, you will have to go to Frenchies (a good one !) and rummage the big button box — they make some of the used clothing into rags, and remove the buttons from them — all buttons from a garment are grouped together, and sold for 25cents (whether there were 2 buttons or 12 buttons! It is a knitters/sewers dream come true!)
    Another reason to encourage Jaimie to get yer arse to Nova Scotia for the tour — buttons!
    (I was drooling over yesterdays buttons on the cardie!)

  235. I have inherited several button tins, my paternal grandma & both of my husband’s grandma’s tins (sadly my SIL didn’t want these). I want the buttons I played in as a child, my maternal Grandmother’s, Mom can’t let these go yet, I have to hope my sister isn’t as attached as me.

  236. Yes they do!! My mum’s is in one of those old hershey’s kiss tins.
    I need to start my own, since my mum probably isn’t parting with hers anytime soon. Mine are all in a bag… somewhere… I think…

  237. I have my Grandma’s button collection and one that I started for myself. I’ve been neglecting it lately, though, and you’ve reminded me that I really should dig it out of it’s moving box and start adding to it again. Thanks πŸ™‚

  238. Button bin? Try an entire room. Yup, my mother has dubbed the spare room “The Button Room” because that’s where she stores the buttons. Hundreds of them. All colour coded and organized by size in a makeshift dresser that once held printers ens.
    She also alphabetizes her spices, but that’s another story.

  239. I do. It’s actually a button yoghurt container – remember Peninsula Farms in NS? Sigh,no longer. I think I may even have some of my great grandmother’s buttons in it. I’m loath to use any of the buttons as they’re some of the few things I have of my grandmother.

  240. My grandmother had an old cookie tin in which she threw her buttons. Not one article of worn out clothing left the house with buttons attached. Lucky me! As a kid an afternoon of sifting through the tin would take me to another world and thankfully still does.

  241. Pretty pretty! I found the perfect buttons for the Wisp scarf (Knitty.com) I finished last week. Unfortunately they were glued to a cheap Ikea frame in some fit of kiddy craftiness. Rats! FYI I knit the scarf in Louet Kidlin and it turned out really nicely. Kidlin is more economical than Rowan Haze, lovely, and can be worked single-stranded. One ball was almost enough. Next time I’ll take a half inch off each side. Take it easy Stephanie.

  242. THIS family does. My children have spent many a happy hour going through the “plastic” button bin, sorting away.
    My real button stash is off-limits. Up high. Hidden behind the phone books. In a huge Tupperware. REAL Tupperware, not the cheap knock off stuff I use for unimportant stuff like FOOD.
    Someday, possibly after I’m gone, my children will find it. And they will look at each other and say, fondly, “We always knew mom was a little cracked…”
    (I can’t throw away a button. It might be useful. You know. Sometime. Even just one. It could. Won’t hurt anything to toss it into the button bin…)

  243. My nanan (grandmother)had a button box, which my mum now has, and adds to…
    I have more of a button basket…lots of buttons in a horrible plastic basket thing that I’ve had from charity shops, and some really old ones, and some nice new funky ones that I’ve spotted. I must find a better store for them really…
    The thought of how many hands have touched those buttons, or just ran their hands through is awesome…
    I loves my button boxes!

  244. This brought back a memory: my husband’s older sister (who couldn’t open a can, much less knit) had a friend make a sweater for my daughter when Laura was about 3. Handsome, zip-front, sturdy, green with dark green in the pleats of the peplum below the waist. My daughter said it needed buttons, and chose bright orange ones. We have the photos to prove it. And yes, I have some of my grandmother’s buttons, too.

  245. My grandma has sent me sweaters that I think she knew might not be to my taste, with a note attached saying “Even if you don’t keep the sweater, keep the buttons. They are too good to give away.” More than once, I have kept just the buttons – Grandma knows good buttons.

  246. I do have a wonderful button box, that came from my grandmother. Well, it isn’t actually a box, it a beautiful, very old candy tin, that reminds me of Grandma Stevens every time I look at it. Thank you for bringing up those memories.

  247. I going to inherent a button bin.
    First it was my great grandmother’s, then it was my grandmother’s, then it was my mom’s and soon… it will be mine! =)

  248. Wow, this post brings back memories….my grandma always had a tremendous button-bin, which now lives with my mom. My sister and I used to spend hours sorting the buttons and making up games with them. Or Grandma would take one of the big ones and some string and make a whirly-thingamajig with it (you know, where you “wind up” the button and then it sort of buzzes as it spins?). Those are good memories. Maybe I’ll have to start a button-bin myself. Thanks!

  249. Oh yes. I have my grandmother’s button bin and remember sifting through it for hours when I was a small child. Then I started sewing when I was about 8 on an old black Singer and the buttonholer didn’t work right so I would put snaps on my clothes and then sew a button over the top so it looked like a button and buttonhole! I used buttons all the time and the bin seemed to have no bottom.

  250. Yes, I have a button treasure-trove from my mother and my grandmother and I also inherited my mother-in-law’s button stash from her mother and her grandmother! I have a large dresser drawer full of buttons separated by color and material. (a job that took me the better part of a year to organize) It is like a a visit with each of them whenever I go though the drawer to find the perfect set of buttons.
    knitswithsticks

  251. How great that you found those at the Button Emporium. It’s a wonderful store run by terrific people and deserves to be known far and wide.

  252. Of of course we do.
    I have one still. I used to cut those itty bitty button off baby undershirts, just because I seriously love those teeny tiny buttons. But they don’t make buttons as nice as they used to.
    Ever take a big button with two holes and string it on some yarn, and then play spinning button games with it for hours? Ah the memories.

  253. My mom had a button bin which was actually an old tin that probably held a fruitcake in it many many years ago and I could kick myself for not keeping it. I am always looking for buttons or something to finish off my purses and handbags I knit up.

  254. Absolutely–I have a button box that was my grandmother’s, and have great memories of sorting through it and playing with the very cool buttons when I was a child. It’s mine now (it was my “B” in the ABC-along), and I’m trying to figure out the perfect sweater for some of them.
    I’m thinking (as I also have lots of sets of three) that I need a sweater with a nice placket, maybe, rather than a cardigan.

  255. I inherited my grandmothers’ button box…and old candy tin with an attached lid, decorated in art deco swirls of orange, blue, yellow on a field of black. Inside the box is bright yellow still, filled 2/3 full will mother of pearl, wood, bone, and many early plastic buttons.
    These are real treasures, aren’t they?
    Gene

  256. Love those buttons! Thanks for sharing the source. Yes, my mother also snipped buttons that were still useful, so I have a few button stashes (for some reason, she didn’t keep them all in one place). However, I suspect that you may also have one or two of a kind – not because the rest of the set broke, but because here in the US, most of our buttons come from the fabric store, and they are carded, and I would guess that the singletons you have are the rest of the card. I might find a great button that comes 3 to a card, and I need 5, or 7 – leaving extra buttons that I have to buy. Just sayin’. But you can imagine any scenario you like!

  257. My family certainly has button stashes, usually kept in lovely old biscuit tins. I recently inherited two button tins from my grandmothers, plus an extra one from a friend’s grandmother. My friend doesn’t sew, and she knew I would appreciate the tin. I felt very honoured when she gave it to me. πŸ™‚
    Despite owning three tins of inherited buttons and a small jar of my own, I can never find enough of the ones that I want, regardless of what I’m sewing or knitting. I think that’s traditional too.
    I have six heart-shaped buttons in pink glass, which I’m thinking of framing. I can’t imagine anything I could knit or sew which would do them justice!

  258. My family has button boxes. My great-grandmother’s held a button from one of my (late) grandmother’s skirts for about 70 years, at which time the attic trunk was opened that had the skirt in it and the button was sewn back on (and the skirt worn by my sister, who fit it). I guess it’s a New England thing.

  259. Yep – my mom had one. A biscuit tin with a picture of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Mountbatten on their wedding day. I don’t believe she ever used anything from that tin. It was just a collection.

  260. “…but they have to be procured somehow, and I’ve never been much of a shopper.”
    Brace yourself. There may be a button migration headed your way πŸ™‚
    (And my Grammy’s button bin was a square tobacco tin, maroon. It was a treasure trove!)

  261. Oh yes they do – My Nain (Welsh for Grandma) had one which also included buckles and hairpins – and hatpins. It was an enormous Swallo tortoiseshell painted biscuit tin and I spent many a wet day sorting, classifying and tidying the contents. Some of them are still around – although in a new tin!

  262. My grandmother was a seamstress by profession, and sewed delightful things for all of her 7 grands. When she died, my mother inherited her button collection and also removed the buttons from grandma’s favorite outfits to add to the collection. When my parents are gone, it will be the buttons my 2 sisters & I will have difficulty dividing, not the jewelry.

  263. My family doesn’t have a button bin, but my mom always had a button jar that she kept (and probably still keeps) in her sewing machine cabinet. When I was a young adult buying stuff for my first apartment, I remember buying a smallish jar specifically for buttons. That’s what every adult household had, right? So I had to have one. I still have it and add buttons to it once in a while.

  264. definately it’s genetic to collect buttons. my grandmother did, and i do… i also inherited a box of buttons from a dear old friend. i cherish them all.

  265. My mom’s button box came from my grandmother. My mom didn’t sew but grandma did. But my mom, before consigning old clothes to the rag bin, cut the buttons off. So she contributed to the button box. I did inherit the box, got it home and found (much to my dismay) that there was a jigsaw puzzle inside the box. I think one particularly greedy niece absconded w/ the goods but there’s not much I can do about that! Sad. I have a lot of buttons, too, but they aren’t nearly so cool.

  266. Those buttons really are perfect for that sweater. Isn’t it wonderful when you find JUST the right buttons? Seredipity at its finest. I do have a modest button collection, but it’s mostly spare buttons that have come with clothing or “extra” buttons I’d bought to try out with sweaters and then ended up using something else. It’s rare that I remember to snip buttons off of clothes before I dump them at Goodwill . . . the effort of getting them out of the closet and into the pile in the first place is hard enough. If I dive back into the pile to button-hunt, second thoughts set in and I end up not getting rid of anything at all!

  267. When Mother died we found two HUGE jars of buttons in the back of a closet. Since we had weeded through, packed up, shipped home, and disposed of hordes of collectibles, craft items (everything from MJ Designs stencil paints to 1950s sequins and beads – including gunmetal and jet – carefully sorted by color in tiny jars) and odd collections (1930s-40s-50s FABRIC flowers) the button jars just about put us over the edge.
    My sister and I had played with buttons at my aunt’s, not at home. I suspect that one of the jars was my aunt’s (a collector) and the other was one my mother (a scavenger) picked up somewhere.
    There were some extraordinary buttons in those jars, but my sister and I are not really button people (yarn, quilt fabric, dogs, cats, plus my sister’s doll collection and my butter chips) and we tried to sell them (TX has a very large Button Society) but to no avail. I think we dropped them off at a Thrift Store. I have no doubt (based on the responses to this post) that those button jars found a good home.

  268. I have two old tins with buttons in them. Some are probably from my great-aunt, some I bought from house sales, some I cut off old clothes and some I bought new. I’ve even bought a few at antique shows. My mother had an old button tin, too. I’ll have to ask her if she still has it. I used to play with those buttons for hours.

  269. Yes, we have a button collection. I used to drive my mom nuts by going through it.
    Oddly, we also have a nail bin and a screw bin, for those times when you need a nail or a screw.
    That one was more fun to dump on the floor and forget about.

  270. I have a button bin. I always loved sifting through my mother’s and my grandmother’s, so when I started sewing and crocheting I started my own. It’s grown to sizes my mother never dreamed of… I had to buy something to organize it because otherwise you’d never find all the ones that were supposed to go together, because the collection was simply so vast. (hint… buy those little plastic organizers in the craft aisle, which are meant hold beads and such… something like this http://www.jewelrysupply.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=396_425&products_id=6122 )
    I’m ALWAYS being complimented on the buttons I put on my projects, because there’s always something cute to choose from the bin. If I find buttons on clearance, I stock up. If they’re a regular price, I’ll just browse for something that screams “buy my now or lose me forever!”

  271. I have button tin from my Granny, and my Mom, all jumbled up. I also have the button drawer from them where all the old bittons are neatly sorted by colour. Very impressive! My three year old son loves to sift the button tin while I am on the computer. He asks for buttons nearly every day…he loves to pet yarn too. πŸ™‚

  272. My mum has a button tin(in a vintage chocolates tin, no less) and she has my granny’s button tin and I have my own just starting. I loved rummaging through the button tin when I was a child. We also used them as counters for board games which may explain why there wasn’t always a full set.

  273. When I read your blog, it brings back memories. My mother had a fabulous vintage button collection which disappeared when she died. I think I know the culprit. She left the vintage tin, but took every single button. I’ve mourned them ever since.

  274. Yes, Mom and Nana both had button boxes. I don’t know where the boxes went over the years. Mom’s was this old tin with pictures of royalty all over it – I think it was an old candy tin.
    I buy buttons frequently, sometimes just because I like them, or because I think I might actually use them for a future project. I once purchased a dozen little pewter buttons with Viking ships on them and for the life of me I can’t remember where or why I bought them! So, into the box they go.
    Thanks for the fun of reminiscing about button boxes from years back.

  275. Yes, I have a button jar from several (2 of my grandmothers and 2 or my ex husbands). I think we should have a button jar get-together and exchange and we might just be able to get some matched sets going. I know I’ve been frustrated to have only 2 or 3 of a REALLY great button. Love the sweater, though I understand the challenge of working in grey during the winter. I have to switch to purples and greens for the winter.

  276. Crystal and turquoise, and lots of mother of pearl buttons, knotted together in the button box. My mother always tried to reduce the number of buttons on a garment (because they were so(o) expensive! (a habit leftover from The War (WWII) I think). I also remember her buttonhole scissors, and her sitting in the afternoon making buttonholes with the scissors in hand. Woe betide you Molly Woppy if you looked like using her sewing scissors for cutting paper. My sewing machine makes all my buttonholes on sewn garments. She could also do special buttonholes ‘bound’ and ‘whipped’ ones (sounds a little kinky now)and special ones for jackets. I have the button box now – my children love it, though the tin rusted when my mother went to live by the sea.

  277. Those who sew certainly have button bins–and I both knit and sew. My button bin, however, is quite small. A few years ago I sent my button bin to my niece for Christmas, because my sister told me she loved buttons! Another good place for buttons–estate sales/garage sales/church sales. I’ve been lucky several times at these and have found vintage buttons (still on the card sometimes!), rickrack, knitting needles, etc.

  278. We had a coffee can full of old buttons and when Mom (she sewed all our clothes) was looking for buttons, we always started there. The contents would be spilled on the table and we would touch every one and talk about it and where it came from.
    My dear husband gave me a pint jar full of buttons for Valentines. Made me warm and fuzzy!

  279. Yes! My great grandmother had a button bin, my grandmother still has one, and I have my mother’s. πŸ™‚ I also have a little felt needle holder that is a little girl in a dress and bonnet that belonged to my great aunt.
    Inheriting those sorts of things is very cool.

  280. Button containers are wonderful. I have claimed my mother-in-law’s button containers. Many, many mother-of-pearl buttons. She is very short-waisted and often hemmed up blouses and saved the extra buttons. She sewed beautifully. Many cheap buttons – she is cheapish as my Dutch sister-in-law stated – and she NEVER threw anything away. But I found United States Military Academy (West Point) Cadet buttons. My father-in-law who retired as a general graduated from West Point in 1942 so those buttons graced his uniforms before he went off to war in Europe. I now have one of those on my Kate Gilbert Equestrian Jacket. Perfect. A lovely connection to two wonderful people who are getting very old and are fading away before our eyes.

  281. I believe my Grandma’s button stash was thrown away. I’ll have to check with my mom (who has a fabulous button box). As I don’t knit sweaters (yet?) I have no need of a button box I suppose. But I want one all the same.
    Most button boxes I’ve visited are in old cookie tins. Anyone else’s?

  282. Nope not yet… But this is a great Idea! I might have to find a nice bin for all the buttons around my house–I have not set place so they are in drawers here and there. Not that I have a collection of buttons by any means… Just extras you get with the store bought sweaters.
    I love your new sweater it looks lovely!

  283. Well, my mom’s mom had a button bin, but I didn’t get it. Probably no one did, sad messed up side of the family being what it is I don’t even know. My dad’s mom had a totally charming little tin which contained buttons, bullets, peach pits, thread, needles, buckles, you name it. I have it now. I should blog it. But then at a thrift store years ago I found two large button jars, separated by colors, warms in one, cools in the other for 10 cents each. And since then I have added my step grandmother’s buttons to the stash.
    What a great topic. Thanks.

  284. My mother’s button tin was usually a Tupperware container. It changed over the years – but the last one was an orange one that was supposed to hold spaghetti.
    When she died last year I gave it to my sister – she sews more than I do. I have my own button stash – fancy ones in a Whitman’s sampler box and the rest in my mom’s old glass milk bottle collection.

  285. I have buttons from both of my grandmother’s button bins (and my mother has the remainder of both). My dad’s mother used to give me a strip of cloth, a threaded needle, and a handful of buttons, and I would sew buttons on for hours. Later on, she was the one who taught me to sew really well (she was a tailor). Oh, I still love those button bins!

  286. I have my great aunt’s button box, actually two of them. The containers are really old and they are both full. Some buttons still have tiny scraps of fabric on them or thread. I love to go through it occasionally. I have used some of them and if it’s something I’ve made for family I always tell them it’s from Aunt Lila’s button box. It makes the garment really special. Thanks for sharing your button box and bringing back good memories.

  287. I’m just a fiend for buttons! I grew up playing in Nana’s button tin, and then we’d go to the store (Windsor Button, I believe) with her and she’d park me next to this bin just FULL of buttons that one could purchase by the scoop or the pound (that part I don’t remember – I wasn’t the one with the cash! LOL), and I’d just stay there scooping up buttons and letting them run through my fingers..::Sigh::…good times, those. As an adult, I found a great button shop in Freeport, Maine, and hubby couldn’t quite understand my joy in there, but indulged me, anyway. They had a vat of “buttons by the scoop” (I’m embarrassed to say how many scoops I just HAD to have), and grab bags of carded buttons for short money (had to get me a few of those), and some of the most beautiful buttons I’d ever seen, sold loose “per button”.
    I found some lovely pewter buttons with Scottish thistles on them, and bought a dozen, without knowing what I was going to do with them. I’d only been knitting for a VERY short while at that point, but I knew that I’d figure out some project for them eventually. Just a short while ago I put up a pic of the sweater I’d knit just to go with those buttons (and the jar that holds just the tiniest fraction of my button stash). I think it was only the third or fourth thing I’d ever knit – way before it ever occurred to me that vines and leaves and cables and bobbles might be even a smidgen “difficult”. Yeah, I was clueless..LOL
    But, the Button Stash is quite a handy thing to have, and since Nana is still using her button tin at 93, I’m on my own yet. But I’m not complaining. πŸ™‚

  288. oh stephanie, thank you for bringing up botton bins! i spent hours sorting and stringing and playing with the buttons in my grandmother’s bin when i was a little girl. i don’t know what ever happened to that button bin – alas! – but you’ve made me remember that i need to start one. i have two granddaughters … maybe i’ll start TWO!

  289. When my GG died (she was my great-grandmother, my mother’s mother’s mother), my mom got her sewing basket. GG was pretty much as awesome as they come, and just as eccentric. In the basket were the requisite buttons and spools of thread, but also a plastic hand with red-painted fingernails, miniature cupie dolls, and tufts of unspun cotton. In short, it was a crazy mess in there. But that was very much my GG, her house was filled with tchotchkes and doilies and porcelain dolls, but also fabulous cooking smells, chicken and potatoes and good southern food. The best part of her house was the warmth and acceptance you felt as soon as you walked in. GG (real name Millie) was a funky cool old lady who is missed in our family. Her sewing basket, no bigger than a dinner plate and only 6 inches tall, was disorganized and overflowing and eclectic. Someday it will be mine and I’ll think of my GG whenever I search for a button.
    Thanks, Harlot, for giving me a reason to talk about my GG today.

  290. Of course I have a button bin! They were pre-mixed before I rec’d it, but there are buttons from my great-grandmother, grandmother, and great-aunt. Those buttons are kept in a neat old Uneeda biscuit tin. I keep my button collection seperate, in a newer sort of tin.

  291. My aunt had a button bin – and she doesn’t even sew! She gave it to me before she moved to the other side of the country. It’s small, but there are some nice buttons in there.

  292. My mother worked in a material shop and when it closed down got loads of buttons which I have since inherited. I too am a button addict. There are only two shops near me which sell buttons but the prices are extortionate. So when I am holiday or visiting my children I buy, buy and buy….then tell my husband my neighbour asked me to get them for her…she did…but not as many as I got!!!I don’t have them all in one button box but have them all stacked in little boxes by colour, easier to find but usually one short of the perfect button.

  293. Oh yes, we had a button tin. It was those old blue tins with the Danish cookies in them. It had LOTS of buttons and various sewing things in it, like needles and a pin cushion that looked like a tomato. I loved it. Lots.
    Then we had a house fire and now it’s gone. :/

  294. Yes, I have a button bin. It is, sadly, fairly new and clear plastic. While convenient, you have helped me realize that it lacks charm. Now on the hunt for a ‘proper’ button bin. And ready to increase the stash.

  295. My mom used to have a wonderful button bin that I used to love to play in. Sadly, It was lost in a move somewhere. I would like to start my own (nothing is stopping me really). I have a ton of those extra buttons that you get with shirts, skirts and the like, but nothing wonderful. For some reason, button bins need some extraordinary finds to make them true button bins. Hmmmm, maybe time to start cruising yard sales.

  296. I have my grandmother’s buttons. She was past past thrifty – a downright skinflint. Guess it comes from living through the Depression with the first generation Scot husband and a houseful of kids. There’s far too many buttons from union suits than I want to count. I ended up with them when she passed because I used to dump them out every time we visited, sometimes on a daily basis.
    I hope I get my mom’s collection when the time comes. She used to work at Joann Fabrics and when the stores closed, notions were a great bargain. She has an entire wall set up just like the store.

  297. I have my mother’s button bin, she has her mother’s button bin. When one of my sisters or myself are looking for a button or set of buttons we get them all together. It’s wonderful adventure to sort through all those buttons, sometimes remembering where they came from. My mother and her mother always clipped the buttons off old clothing, no matter if the buttons were ugly or common. In those days clothes moved through the line of progression (from my older sister, me, then my younger sister) and when they reached the end of the line, the bottons were snipped, zippers ripped, any decorations removed, and the rest went in either the rag bag or the quilt scrap pile. Even if you pass your botton bin on to someone who never sews, they will have a bit of history with them, little colored bits to remind them.

  298. You asked, “Do all families have button bins?”
    I don’t know about that, but I do have my own button stash. My best score happened when a LYS (sadly!) went out of business and I managed to acquire lots and lots and lots of fantastic buttons for a song.
    I felt badly to be taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune, but Damn. I made out like a bandit.

  299. My best friend collects buttons – she has huge jars of them. She has let me come over and dig through her buttons for a sweater. I have used the same shape and shade of buttons, but they were all different. It makes for a very interesting placket & very decorative. I have gotten lots of good comments. Socks don’t have to match, why do buttons?

  300. I started my button box in my early twenties. It’s what you do isn’t it? Even folks who don’t knit until much later?
    And yes. I now have my Momma’s Tetley Tea can full of her buttons on the shelf. Many of them I recognize from family coats, dresses and other garments. There are lots of tiny white ones she would *always* snip off our our school blouses when they were beyond hope. Two of those I used for a tiny pair of baby booties I knit recently. There are several small plastic bags containing a “spare button” and a small length of matching thread wound up in the package. And don’t forget to throw in some assorted snaps, hooks, a barrette and a clasp or two. I remember raiding it for school projects and such.
    But my Gammy’s Sewing box. Ahhhhhh! Such wonders. Not only the buttons scattered in the bottom, but her darning egg and gadgets I can only guess at since I don’t sew. She worked in a shirt factory and I have her ruler, worn so much that she had to re-etch the special markings. A depression era girl, she told me if she ever lost that ruler, she would loose that precious job.

  301. I have my grandmother’s buttons as well. I also buy buttons to create my own collection. I’ve designed sweaters AROUND the button (if the button is cute enough!).
    Also – buttons don’t have to match. If you need 7 buttons – use 4 of one kind, 3 of another and do “every other” for a really cool look – or even 7 different buttons from your grandmothers button bin…
    I LOVE this blog. I’m new to it – but it’s soooooooooo much fun to visit each day…

  302. My mother has been a sewer all her life, but I don’t remember where she kept her button collection. My own button stash came from a garage sale, in a huge jar, but there weren’t more than three buttons of each kind. So they weren’t very useful for sewing or knitting projects, but my children loved sorting through them. Being a teacher, I made my kids sort them by attributes–find all the ones with four holes, find all the square ones with two holes, etc. I was a very fun mother.

  303. I have my mother’s button tin(bin). When I was a child, she used to give me a needle and thread and I would string the buttons into necklaces–only poking my fingers with the needle and drawing blood once or twice ;o)
    Before garments went into the rag pile, the buttons were frugaly cut off and dropped in the button tin, so many of the buttons are reminders for me–the toggle buttons from my father’s rain coat, rhinestone buttons from a fancy dress my mother wore in the 60’s, fancy plastic buttons from the button wall at Woolworth’s that adorned my first sewing projects.
    I saved the button tin for my kids, but surprised myself with being too selfish to share it with them when they were at the button-stringing age. It’s still a walk down memory lane when I sort through the tin, and though I’ve used some of the buttons on my own projects, I just can’t bear to see my kids lose them.
    I’ve added to it with the extra buttons you sometimes get with garments, and I still cut the buttons of things destined for the rag pile. So someday it will be theirs to sort through and perhaps they will remember where some of the buttons came from. But for now, it’s mine, all mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  304. Great idea! I too have a button bin, and I put my sets of buttons in nice little clear bags (rather like Ziplock, but teeny-tiny) so I can see what’s in them when I’m rummaging through my button stash. Sometimes, if they’re really, truly special, I’ll even label on the bag where I got them, just in case I need more.
    Good luck with your stash, and thanks for having such a fun and entertaining blog!

  305. I LOVED searching through my mother’s button bin when I was a kid, and sewing fabulous “new” buttons on cheap store bought clothes to make them fancier. Alas, when my mother died when I was 17, most everything was thrown out (being 17, I didn’t want to move a 4-bedroom-house full of stuff around with me in my 1-bedroom-apartment budget for years) – so the button bin is gone (as are all the Christmas decorations and most other family things). But I’m making a new one that I sincerely hope I will be able to give to my duaghter when she’s old enough. I just need a nicer bin! : )

  306. My grandmother had one, and your post inspires me to find out if it’s still in existence. I forgot how much looking through it reminded me of digging for treasure.

  307. Oh, we have a button bin! My mom’s is an old tin painted like an embroidered pillow. She was adopted, and her adopted mom didn’t have one. But, my biological grandma does. So, apparently button scrounging (with n=1) is genetic!

  308. Families definitly have button tins – my Mum has her button jar full of buttons from her mother, plastic rainbow buttons from clothes we wore as children, a series of different school uniform buttons and then a few that she couldn’t resist; mine is a button tin with all sorts of odds and ends of the buttons that I’ve loved on sight. Rarely do I find I have a full set of anything but I did have a bit of luck with some fish buttons for a baby surprise jacket recently!

  309. I have a cookie tin that my grandmother started to fill with buttons after her marriage in 1920. She also threw empty wooden thread spools in there. I will one day have the button tin my mother has been keeping since the 1950s. My own tin has many single buttons in it.

  310. I want to invade my closet right now and cut off all the buttons of my clothes just so I can have a button bin…but then I would have no clothes to wear. A good excuse to go clothes shopping.

  311. It seems your button box has stirred up many memories. My Gran had a button box which came to me and now resides with my daughter Kate. After reading some of your posts I believe I will start my own button box….I have the red lady bug buttons you show. They are going on a red tweed sweater for my Maggie (#1 grand daughter) and the button box will go to her.

  312. I have lots of buttons that I sort by color in antique wire lid Mason jars or some of the glass candle jars (after the candles are empty). I also keep my grandmothers and great grandmothers buttons seperate. I love my buttons.

  313. Yup, we had one. I used to play with them as other children might play with action figures. The buttons were divided into two armies, and then there was this complex means of determining which button would prevail in one-on-one battlefield skirmishes. Some victories were obvious – of course the big old leather coat button would kick the ass of the little mother of pearl button. But there were more obscure victories as well – why did the red plastic button defeat the comparably sized wooden one? I guess we’ll never know.

  314. My mom had her button bin, mainly the extra buttons that came with clothing plus some old ones and quite a variety of white ones. My dad still uses them at times, so he’s keeping it for now.

  315. I have two button tins, my grandmother’s one is a biscuit tin that has pictures of York (UK) on it, and mine is a biscuit tin from our Queen’s Silver Jubilee. I used to love playing with the buttons, and now, as a hoarder, buttons are so much smaller and easier to house when the OCD kicks in. What a great world-wide topic!

  316. The women of my family have always had button bins. My mom had one that I used to love to look through when I was younger. Then I went to college and didn’t do much sewing or crafting, and didn’t have a button bin. But I saved the extra buttons that would come with the clothes I would buy, or when a sweater was gifted and lost a button, I would cut off the rest to save and replace them. When I got into sewing and knitting, I would go to see my grandmother, who has a drawer in a file cabinet full of buttons. I love looking through buttons for many of the same reasons you do. I have started a button collection of my own, but it is still fairly small. I look at collections of buttons on ebay sometimes, dreaming of how they they feel or what treasures I would find in them. I have not purchased any because I would rather the buttons find me that I like over time, instead of pursuing them and be disappointed that the buttons I got were impostors somehow, not truly to be added to my button bin. (I have some reservations about buying in online auctions. It seems to cheapen the experience somehow.) Anyway, my dreams of a button box to match the collection your grandmothers have passed down will be fulfilled some day, I just know it!

  317. I have a button bin that I inherited from my Gram. It looks just like yours! The buttons even look similar. I remember sorting through it when I was little…

  318. There is a big vintage clothing show and sale at a conference center near my home every May, and I always go to troll for vintage hankies. One booth has vintage buttons, and I always have to stop there to see what I can score. I’ve always loved pretty or unique buttons (so did my Mom and Nana, who were always looking for fun buttons for our home-sewn clothes). Now I have buttons in search of the right sweater! I also have Nana’s button box and jar. Most of those buttons are not the fun things, but buttons cut from men’s white shirts and women’s white blouses in order to be reused. Most still have the thread hanging from them. Like you, I love the history of it–a handmade heritage through the generations.

  319. My mum definitely has the family buttons right now, with my grandma coming in a close second. I’ve started keeping my own buttons in an old box, and am currently looking for a prettier way to store what I have. It’s funny, when I look at some of the buttons in everyone’s storage of choice, I can still tell what piece of clothing the recycled buttons come from – ahhh, memories. By the way, my first comment here, ever – hi everyone!

  320. I love buttons and button bins. When I was little my babysitter, an older lady, had a button jar. I loved how you could see all the colorful buttons through the jar. At that time the local radio station had a bingo game on during the morning. We used her buttons to cover the numbers that were called. I want a button jar like hers someday.

  321. *Grin* I was just looking at this page with my 4 YO daughter and she was asking how you make buttons – it’s got to be genetic. So we’re making buttons tomorrow, and now she’s playing in a button box. I have drawers, and tins, and bottles of buttons, from the women on my side of the family back to who knows when. The thing I wonder about the really old buttons is – who used buttons THAT FRIGGIN’ SMALL? OK teatime over, back to my spinning *another really big grin* BTW, you are one bad, bad, good good influence lady. Under your evil nebulae I have destashed almost all petroleum fibers and am making my woolly goodness on the wheel now…ohhh my. I love it. (cough enabler cough)

  322. I have also been fortunate enough to inherit my Granny’s button tin! I also have the exact button shopping experiences and love my button tin – when it works out for me! My mother still has her “jar” and it becomes a toy for my 4 year old daughter. We put in them in a circular tray and let her have at it. Even putting them away is fun!

  323. My Grandfather was a furrier and I am lucky enough to have his bin of buttons….old bakelite, wood, crocheted, mink, copper….such beauties that I only give to a certain few that I know will save them when the garment is no more. Some were used as Sweet Dream Charms under my little ones pillows….when they were little. Such a nice memory Steph. Thanks!

  324. But of course!! My Nanny had a button jar, which we loved sorting through when we were kids. I eventually inherited the contents, along with my mother’s additions. And now my own additions, all kept in a kid-attracting teddy bear tin. Hmmm… they would be good for teaching my new grandson colors and shapes in a few years, wouldn’t they? Once he’s past putting everything in his mouth, that is.

  325. I didn’t inherit any buttons but have managed to collect a great big glass jar of them:) My daughter uses them to make jewelry sometimes. I haven’t knit any sweaters that needed buttons (or didn’t) but I do use button for clasps on different things.

  326. We had a button bin as well. I love wandering through it as well, though your right there are never enough of what you like for the project you need them for.
    I have often contemplated whether or not I could pass off mismatched buttons as an intentional design element.

  327. Of course we all have button boxes! If a piece of clothing was no longer useable, my Grandma (and her mother before her) would snip the buttons off and store them, because you never knew when you would need buttons just like that again! My grandmother was born during the Depression; I think this made many people, particularly housewives, think carefully before throwing anything away. My inherited stash of buttons was kept in old pipe tobacco tins that my great-grandfather donated to the cause. The tins remind me of him, while the contents remind me of the women in my family. Thanks for the flood of wonderful memories Steph!

  328. I have the same passion for buttons, begun, I think when I was a child and got the usual sicknesses for which they now have immunization, and my “job” was to tidy up the button box. (The other activity I could do was to play with the mercury from broken thermometers which was stashed in a vial and amused me no end–I’ve still got all my digits!!) People give me buttons for a present, or a souvenir from their travels, or cut off from the dress they discarded. Some sweaters have had 3 sets of buttons, trying to achieve the “right” button. I finally found pansy buttons for my Susan Duckworth pansy sweater in Santa Barbara, but didn’t remember how many buttons I needed. Came home to find the I needed 10 and I only bought 8. The yarn store sent me 2 more!! I don’t really prefer cardigans as they always gape between the buttonholes, and I end up sewing them shut and wearing them as a pullover. But, like you, I have knit cardigans to go with
    certain buttons. I loved the fashion in not-so-recent years, and even currently, where embellishing the whole item/handbag/hat/cushion with a variety of buttons was the design plan. Thanks for sharing. Marlyce in Windsor, Ontario

  329. When my mom died year before last, I sort of wanted her button box as I remembered playing with it as a child. Then I found out it was one of the few mementos my nephew wanted. He also saw it as a repository of memories and the fact that this 30 year old guy felt so strongly warmed my heart. Perhaps it will be the little guy you’ve knit funny mittens for who will cherish your button stash the most.

  330. Definitely yes. I have my Nana’s button box…which I have major memories of playing in as a young child, an indeed just used some singles on Calorimetries for the holidays. The there’s my great-grandmother’s button tin – with…wait for it: vintage austrian crystals and real metal sequins in glass test tubes! It’s an amazing treasure trove, and I am touched that she specified it should come to me, especially as I was only 10 when she passed. I have a significant collection of my own going now, too. But like you, I don’t mix the collections…not sure why? Just doesn’t ‘feel’ right.

  331. I have a huge mason jar with combined stashes from my great nana, nana and grandmother-in-law! A few very special, very old ones are in an old steel Scotch Tape tin. I haven’t sorted through them in ages, but I love knowing they are there. I’ve added over the years all the extra buttons that come with clothes. Looks like we’re all ready for the great button shortage to come in the future!

  332. my mom had a button bin when I was little (well she still does but I took the container from when I was little for MY buttons now). I used to go through it every day and sort and arrange the buttons in different ways. I called them “turtles” and would ask her constantly if I could play with the turtles.
    I’m still obsessed with them. My grandmother in law heard of my obsession and gave me a whole bunch of buttons from HER button bin (ummm enormous tupperware trunk). She couldn’t believe I wanted as many as she could give me, “but what will you DO with them?” Now I have a vintage sewing box for them and my mom’s “turtle” box holds quarters (its way too small for my button collection onw.
    I just realized that a bunch of my mom’s “turtles” came from those extra buttons you get with clothing, which also explains the onsies and twosies. Once I thought of that I started putting those in my button bin too.

  333. I think that everyone does have button bins! My mother has a bottle that holds her family’s buttons, and I recently discovered that my husband’s aunt also has a button bin. Both are very revered bins, it’s a big deal to spill the buttons out and sort through them. Maybe I can get my mother’s bin…

  334. Ohh the button pin/tin…every home should have at least one.. Oh ya – I pre-ordered your newest book!! can’t wait to get it!!

  335. Whoah, 352 comments preceeding mine! Stephanie, I think you have a very strong subculture of button owners reading your blog. Yes, I do have vintage buttons from my family and I love them.

  336. Oh, buttons. You have opened not a can of worms, but cans and cans of beautiful button memories!! Buttons from grandmothers, great grandmothers aunts. What would the world be without button tins?? A friend of mine makes fabulous button jewelry and makes custom items out of family “heirloom” buttons. She’s at http://www.blackbuttonstudio.com. Lucky her, she gets to play with buttons all day!!!

  337. Yes, we have a family button bin. That’s where my Thermal buttons came from, and I love looking at them up close because I know I freakin’ stole ’em, red-handed, from my mother.

  338. Of course all families have button bins, only in my family we call them button boxes. My mom has her grandma’s button box, and my great grandma (on the other side) has a rather extensive collection of buttons that I will apparently inherit one day.
    They’re a really interesting piece of history. I would love to have a sweater with hundred year old buttons.

  339. I have a button box. I have all the “extra” buttons that have come from garments and then some from my late mother-in-law and some that my mother sent my way when she moved from the house that I grew up in. I’m not sure though, how many sets I have. I don’t always cut off buttons (in fact I rarely do) because our no longer worn clothing tends to go to Goodwill, rather than the trash. I’d feel bad cutting off the buttons…although for really fabulous buttons I can see it happening. But a button stash is a great idea. It’s just preventative shopping (preventing the breakdown I seem to have whenever I need buttons.)

  340. Those buttons are beautiful. My mom has a jar of buttons but I’m not sure where they’re from. Sadly, I only have a ziploc bag of the extras that come with clothes.

  341. Buttons are wonderful little ancesteral bits. I too have a box from grandma. I don’t want to use them though because most of the things I make are intended as gifts for people outside of the family and I’m selfish with my Grammie. Those you found are perfect indeed. Portland is a mere 20 miles away and I’d never heard of that wonderful store. Thank you for sharing with everyone. I suspect that their business will see a big surge following your kind mention. Can’t wait to see pictures of the sweater while it’s on.

  342. We have a button can. As a child it was my favourite thing to dump it out and sort through it and order all the buttons according to shape and colour and size. I remember the lady bug buttons from my mummy’s button can. We also had a set of beautiful ceramic buttons inherited from somewhere. They are still waiting for the perfect project. Although I think one may have decorated the most perfect crocheted purse.

  343. When we moved my mother to a nursing home, I found her button bin with my name marked on it. It is much loved. My daughter has replaced buttons on some of her jackets with a variety of the old buttons, truly passing them from one generation to another. I also have had my own button bin for many years.

  344. Both my mother and my great aunt Mary had button jars. I would spend hours playing with them. When I was at GA Mary’s, I’d have the buttons play in wooden thread spools castles that I built on her huge braid rug.
    When I started a button jar of my own, my daughter was so fascinated with it that I gave it to her. The best day came when she accidentally dropped the jar and broke it. I couldn’t find another jar, so I bought a round wooden box from the craft store. She painted a chinese dragon and poetry on the lid and sides.
    Now I add buttons to her box. I guess I’m kind of doing a backward heirloom, but I love how she made it so uniquely hers.

  345. I have a small button jar I have inherited. I love button diving! I live on the edge and sometimes mix my buttons on purpose. A rebel, I know. I never thought to just buy buttons because….brilliant.

  346. I have my Husbands Grandmother’s buttons as well as my own Grandmothers. Then I inherited my Aunt’s buttons. It’s so much fun to look through those old buttons and imagine what they were on or where they went. Yes, every family should have a button bin. Right now I have an over abundance of Dogwood Lane buttons. Anyone looking for those?????

  347. I have my grandmother’s button tin and I thought I had lost it a couple of moves ago. I was heartbroken. And then I found it shortly after my most recent move and I was so unreasonably happy.
    I’ve also started buying buttons, some new, some vintage and keeping them separate from Grandma’s. I have dreams of selecting patterns or designing sweaters to go with the buttons instead of the other way around. Except for the ugly ones in Grandma’s tin. Those can just stay there waiting for future generations to appreciate them.

  348. I have yet to inherit the button tubs (my mother and my grandmother both like to store little things in old margarine tubs) but they’re coming (hopefully not for many years!).

  349. I have a large jar plus various other containers in a picnic basket full of buttons that I “harvest” for various craft or needlework projects. I do have the problem as well of needing 6 buttons and only finding 5, or finding 2 or three similar but not enough the same. Many were inherited from my mother-in-law, an accomplished seamstress who made tailored clothes for herself. Some of her buttons are really strange–and one tin reeks of oil, but I don’t know why. Still, it’s pleasant to spend an hour or so pouring them out and sifting through them for just the perfect match.

  350. I have a couple of old button boxes – one from my grandma and one from my husband’s granny. I also have the one I started myself and for Christmas this year, I gave my 28-year old daughter the start of her button box. They are so much fun to look through. By the way, some of the buttons from your grandmother’s button box are the same as some of the ones in my button boxes.

  351. Buttons! I just bought some today for a baby sweater (bone white, flower-shaped). Last time I was caught without buttons for a sweater, I was in NYC and started asking around. Someone directed me to an old-fashioned notions store on Broadway where, in addition to a regular button display, they sold big bags of mixed buttons for a dollar. And thus my button stash (actually, a button drawer) was born!

  352. Yes! Mine is a mixture of mine and my DH’s mother’s and grandmother’s. I know my mom had one, too, but it disappeared when they moved from the house to the retirement apartment. (I suspect one of my sisters has it.)

  353. Our family doesn’t have a button bin, but a button drawer – both the drawer and the desk it’s a part of are inherited from my great-grandmother. The desk was handmade for her by my great-grandfather, and the buttons have been in that drawer ever since she put them there. Three generations have been playing with the buttons when they were children, and when they grew up, the desk was passed on. Now it’s in my house – the other drawers have all sorts of stuff in them, but the button drawer remains untouched, as it’s always been. I don’t think I could actually use any of those buttons…

  354. Lovely buttons! Those clear peachy flowers are adorable.
    I don’t know about other families but this one does. I have my maternal grandmother’s and my mother-in-law’s. I also have a ton of buttons I’ve bought over time some of which are vintage which just makes it even more fun to paw through them all.

  355. I vaguely remember playing in my grandmother’s button tin. I did inherit all her knitting needles, crochet hooks and thread, as well as her sewing box. No buttons, alas.
    I’ve started my own button jar of leftover buttons from projects, buttons cut off of old shirts, and some other assorted buttons from here and there. DS, who will be 12 in a month, still likes his button spinner and takes it to school with him to show his friends.
    Button jars are great!

  356. We have 4 button bins – one for the really rare handmade buttons, one for other “special” buttons, and two for assorted sundry buttons.
    And the Button Emporium is the COOLEST shop to just wander around in ^_^

  357. Yes, all families have button bins. Or, as in our case, a button tin. Nothing in my childhood was ever “thrown away”. Zippers, buttons, hooks & eyes were all carefully removed and cloth was cut into rags, or bandages, or slings. Did my mother think we were at war? It was the fifties, but these habits were left over from her wartime childhood, and my Nana’s depression era childhood. Nana’s buttons were added to Mum’s, and hers will some day be added to mine. You know that little tiny envelope or plastic bag that comes with new clothes that has an extra button? Guess were those all go?? Yup, right into the button tin. Mine is blue and it reads, “Danish Butter Cookies”

  358. I had a button jar. It was a whole bunch of buttons that I had acquired from my grandmothers’ button jars. As I was a young child when I claimed all of these buttons, I mixed them together with abandon, and added randomly buttons that had fallen off of shirts, buttons I found on the street, and buttons from old clothes.
    I think my mother threw it out. I loved those buttons, though. I used to sort them, count them, put them in little piles, and run my fingers through them. I taught my little sisters how to count with them.

  359. I have my Nana’s button bin. I think many families do – especially if there is any Eastern North America connection, or if anyone lived through the Depression.
    I once rescued an amazing button bin from a jumble sale in Peterborough for only $5. I, and the store I worked for at the time, used those buttons for years!

  360. My granny has a button tin, which is a huge sweetie tin dating back to Lord-only-knows when. I think it’s from Bluebird toffees. I spent many happy hours sorting and rooting in the tin when I was little, there are all sorts of treasures in there. She’s already told me that I can have it, but only after she’s dead in case she needs it before then! (That’s my granny for you…) My mum also has a tin, but hers is much smaller. I really need to get one, at the moment all my spares get chucked in the sewing box. Granny’s sewing box is pretty cool too, she has crochet hooks in there from a long-dead friend which are so tiny you can barely see the hooked part.

  361. I know how it is about imagining something and then going and looking for it. I do this almost all the time, but of course, not only do I have this vague picture in my mind where nothing out there in stores will ever match (partially because my body in my mind is different than my real body), I also want it to be inexpensive.. It creates quite a challenge..

  362. After today’s post, I had to get all of my buttons out of a ziploc bag in my sewing basket and put them in a half gallon mason jar. It makes me happy whenever I see it on the shelf in my laundry room.

  363. Yes – although I think I must have thrown away the really boring ones as it’s not as much as I remember. But I do have a red one similar to the one shown in your picture. Mine has four holes and the parallel lines are in a crescent shape. That was always my favourite as a child.
    I wish I’d kept my grandmother’s earring box. All clip ons. My kids would have loved playing with those too.

  364. So, my question is this: Is there an optimum number of buttons that should be purchased at any one time? That is, what number will fit the greatest number of projects regardless of whether for adult, child or bambino? This could be similar to the answer to the ultimate question (see ‘Hitchiker’s Guide…’) but I’d like to go armed with this information next time I’m inspired to go button shopping. Personally, I think the ideal number is 8. I’m willing to negotiate on this.

  365. It’s the smell of the button jar that I find most amazing – it takes me right back to sitting with my Granny and Great-Granny and sorting through piles of buttons (though my memory doesn’t quite stretch to what we were trying to find, and my suspicion is that they were just letting me do it to keep me occupied!)
    My Granny is still around so still needs her button jar, but I now have my own collection of buttons, sorted by colour in jam jars (‘cos I’m that kind of person) and I was amazed to find that, after a few weeks, my button jars had the same smell, so I can revisit that memory whenever I want…

  366. I also have my grammas button bin. I also started my own. You know when there is a sale and you see how nice they are or cute. You buy them. i also save the buttons that come on clothes that always have one attached in case of loosing one. Even snaps. It’s in the genes. I use to see my gramma cut buttons off old clothes. And she had a room full of them. I wish I had some of the old clothes now. They were neat. Thanks for the blog. I love to remember my gramma. She left us 4 1/2 years ago at 92. She was full of P & V up til the day she died. It has been a week of remembering the past because of all the white stuff we are getting down here. AND COLD!!!!! At work yesterday I sat there knitting all day. All my clients canceled b/c of the white outs we had. This is def not motorcycle weather. I need SUN

  367. Yes, I have also my grandmother’s button box.Isn’t extraordinary that it seems to be universal?

  368. Button tins yes, my mothers my aunts, mine and others inherited from assorted sewing stashes (I appear to be one of the few sewers left and get stashes passed along to me it got so out of hand I started giving sewing boxes away) I also inherited four knitting needle collections mother, aunt, uncle! and mother (or was it grandmother) of my dental hygienist (had a very cool metal bell shaped needle gauge). Button stash lives in two x-large fruitcake tins one smaller repro tin Glass mason jar and and 2 tin cookie boxes one having the novelty buttons I picked up along the way (those lady bugs look pretty familiar). It got so large I sat down and sorted them into bags by colour so I wouldn’t spend the whole afternoon looking thru for something.

  369. I have acquired several button boxes from friends and relatives over the years. Button boxes were entertainment when I was a kid when we visited someone who didn’t have toys for us to play with. We would be given a long needle and thread and the button box and sit and string buttons for hours! I loved buttons then and still do. I have at least ten old button boxes that I still enjoy going through. Some of the buttons bring back memories of particular dresses or coats from my childhood. I plan to pass my buttons to my daughter and hope she enjoys them as much as I do.

  370. My family also has a button tin. I have collected many buttons for cardigans before the cardigans were even started. My latest are from our Alaska vacation. They are caribou antler buttons found in a gift shop by my DH. You should have heard him when he found them, knowing how excited I would be. In MA, you would never find these.

  371. Yes, I have my mother’s button collection in an old canning pot. I remember sifting through it as a child for something to do on rainy days. As my sisters and I would outgrow clothing my mom would snip the buttons off and into the pot they would go. I still sift through it now and then. As I run across ‘sets’ I string them together with rubber coated wire and twist the ends so the buttons can’t separate from each other again.

  372. Yes! My mom has a great button bin that I hope to inherit some day. She got some or most of those from her mother too. I have started my own button collection as well (though it mostly consists of buttons from newly-purchased garments – the ones that come with the clothes so you can make repairs).

  373. ours was a button tin when I was growing up. not quite olive-green. lighter then that color you think of with the 70’s appliances. and in my child-eyes it was huge. probably not more than 10 or 12 inches tall, and 8-10 inches around, but it felt like a giant gold mine!

  374. Yes, I have grandma’s button bin, but I have mixed my own. It is one of the few things I have of hers (plus the fire box and her rolling pin). I have no idea if my mom has one. Craftiness skipped a generation.

  375. My own button stash is small, but I can’t resist a gorgeous button, even if I have no idea what to do with it/them. I’ve got some beautiful glass buttons bought from Moving Mud at fiber festivals, some vintage buttons (no sets, alas, just singles), and a few that I picked up at one of the greatest stores in New York — Tender Buttons. The great thing about a button store is that you can bring your sweater in, or even just your swatch, and they can zero in on the perfect buttons for you.

  376. My mother had a beautiful diamond-shaped antique button tin that was her grandmother’s…she used the buttons to embellish her quilting (a la Victorian crazy quilting). When I was in high school we flew to Tennessee for my cousin’s wedding and she brought some hand sewing and the button box on the plane with us. We arrived in TN and as we were driving away from the airport she realized she had left the button box in the seat pocket on the airplane. We called the airport, the airline, etc., but never found it. Maybe someday I’ll stumble across it in an antique shop!

  377. I don’t know if all families have them. I know my grandmother had one. One of my favorite things to do was to go thru the button tin and pick out buttons to sew on dresses. I do have a button tin of old buttons . . . love them!

  378. Yes, I too, have an inherited button tin. Mine is encased in an old circular tin of some kind of nuts. It includes buttons from my Grandmother and Great Grandmother(who dies very young) and I treasure it! I kind of hate to use the buttons from it though-too much history to use on items I give away maybe.
    I used to love to dig through it as a child and often my Grandmother would have me dig through looking for enough of one style to put on something she had made. Great Memories.

  379. I have two button bins that were my grandmother’s. My mom gave them to me, because neither she nor anyone else in the family sews, but I do. For my younger sister’s wedding last summer, I made a ring-bearer pillow using buttons from our grandmother’s button bin to hold ribbons for attaching the rings. She loved it, and I was happy to be able to use some of my grandmother’s buttons for this occasion.

  380. I have a button can. Not from my grandmothers :-(( but it pretty good. My 4 year old granddaughter loves to play with the buttons. She wants a baking pan and a wooden spoon and she will pour the buttons into the pan and stir and stir and stir. It’s very refreshing to see these electronic kids playing with buttons every time they come over.
    Susan

  381. You’ve prompted me to email my mother to find out if she still has the jar of buttons I used to like to dump out on the carpet and sort through when I was a wee tyke. I should also find out if my Grandma had a button bin. And I’ll have to ask my aunt too.

  382. I have a button box, as does my mother. I just went through mine last week, and removed from their envelopes all the extra buttons and thread snippets that came with the nice clothes I used to buy (pre-children).
    My paternal grandmother also had a button box, and it was sometimes a life-saving boredom-buster for me and my siblings. My grandparents were from Hungary and their English was OK, but not meant for long conversations. We usually visited on Sundays, when there was nothing “good” on the TV, hence not much to do. My sister and I would head down to the (finished) basement where there was an extra bed, dump out Grandma’s button box (she was a seamstress so she had lots of buttons) and sort them into piles or just look for something different. We never did anything interesting with them, as far as I remember – just looked through them.
    If we had been a bit older, maybe Grandpa’s wine cellar would have held a bit more interest, beyond the rock candy he made!

  383. You knew I’d answer this, I suppose, but: of course my family has a button bin, and of course it’s multigenerational. The primary button bin is at my mother’s house; my grandmother still has a button bin of her own; and I’ve been working on getting mine up to speed, but I’m not as pleased with it as I could be. Yet. It’s still only really a decade or so old, which is far, far, too young for a functional button bin.
    I’ve always assumed everyone had button bins. Not so?

  384. My Aunt Ruth had a huge jar of buttons, and I spent many happy childhood hours sitting on the floor in her hallway sorting through them. She also had an awesome jewelry box.

  385. Yep. We’ve got a family button bin that was my great grandmothers, I think. My mother is still hoarding it but I do get a chance to use it once in a while. Like you I started my own button bin last year but it’s still in the puny stages.

  386. Wow, what memories this post brought back and how I wish I still have my grandma’s button box, handed down to me by my mother, but alas, ’tis gone, the victim of the nasty aftermath of divorce. The tin itself was special, a Prince Albert can that had been used by my granddad. The buttons were intriguing and mostly used with a few still attached to browning button cards that smacked of the 30s and earlier. Like you, I’ve recently started my own button box, right now housed in an old wooden cigar box that also came from my grandmother’s house. What’s in there now is mostly for knitted items since I don’t even own a sewing machine these days. I remember when my mom broke up housekeeping, the button box was one of the few things I requested. It held so many good memories for me: Finding the right button to make string and button spinners; choosing buttons to go on doll clothes; and just sorting through them buttons to see the many great designs. Thanks for reawakening those memories!

  387. My mother has a button tin, albeit much smaller than yours looks. It’s yellow with little flowers (I think – about 25 years since I saw it!). At least, I hope she has it,I spoke to her on the morning of a pre-move garage sale and she was going to put it in the sale!!! I hope I persuaded her to keep it till I could next fly 12000 miles to pick it up….But you’ve inspired me to start my own just in case..

  388. My grandma had an several old margarine containers filled with buttons. She gave them to my mom when I was little and I was endlessly fascinated with sifting through them and ordering them by size and color and shape. I would spend hours playing with the buttons. When my grandma died, we found several mason jars full of more buttons. I still love looking at them. They’re like art.

  389. I remember when I worked at Stretch & Sew back in the late 70’s, I ordered the buttons for our store. I used to then find fabric and pattern to go with them when they came in. I also have a large stash of buttons and do remove buttons from a no longer worn garment when they are special.

  390. My grandma had a button tin. We used to play with them when we were kids. I don’t know what happened to it when she died, although I’m guessing one of my cousins took it….

  391. Yes my mother hs a button tin. It has to be a tin bin, for the buttons to make the right kind of sound as you rummage through them.
    Also, when you upend the tin to sort the buttons, and then pour them back in, makes its own kind of music.
    Thanks for the childhood memories.
    BTW, I have those EXACT buttons in my little collection, they have not found the right project to be on. They are made by Dill Buttons, I believe.

  392. I love buttons! My greatgrandmother used to make clothes for my nana and her sister back in the day! So she had lots of them!
    Then one day I found the buttons! There was all kinds of them! I didnt have a use for them but I knew I had to have them. So I asked for them. She give me empty pill bottles full of them,coffee cans full of buttons,plastic containers full and bags of buttons! I was in button heaven! To start with I had only seen the ones in a plastic container! Boy was I shocked when I got all tho.
    No I didnt have a use for them. But I figured one day I might need them……They sat in a closet for years. Then one day I started crafting and making business card holders with felt. I searched for those buttons and away I went! It was wonderful to use some of my greatgrandmothers buttons! She would be proud!
    My goal in life is to learn how to Quilt. I want a Button Quilt!! (no shank buttons.just the flat ones!)
    I can dream right?! LOL
    See you in April!
    Jennifer

  393. My button “drawer” began with my mother-in-law. She had her buttons in a drawer in the sewing machine cabinet and would pull it out for my husband and his siblings when she wanted to sew. Years later it became a special play item for grandchildren. When she died it was something I asked to have. My grandchildren now play with it. Occasionally I’ll add something I find that I’m sure will amuse them. When the buttons come out, Grandpa often makes suggestions of another way to sort, line up, or play with them. They also enjoy hearing the stories it always generates from their dad about how he, his sister and cousins played with the buttons. It’s a three generation toy, limited only by imagination. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

  394. I just inherited my gram’s button bin- and also have my paternal gram’s bin, as well as 2 great gram’s bins, all in old tins. My button OCD issues aside, they are priceless. I consider them valuable heirlooms.
    Loved this post.

  395. Yep – we do, I do. Actually I just blogged about my button collection last week as my B post for the ABCalong! Buttons are a bit of an obsession for me. Tiny embellishments. Kind of like nicely decorated or carved handles on something. It’s such an overlooked detail in today’s world – the Small Things.

  396. Dude. Do not encourage me to have another kind of stash. I’m slowly being kicked out of my apartment by fiber already, don’t add buttons to the conspiracy.

  397. Yep. I have several. Oversized (and I mean really oversized) prescription bottles with child-saftey caps work well for these…keeps the toddlers out of the buttons until they are big enough not to eat them.

  398. Yes, is the answer to your question. My mother inherited her mother’s, and I’m looking to grab it at some point when she’s not looking.
    It also contains the most wonderful turned wooden round mallet thing-y with a handle, for sticking in a sock to hold its shape when you need to darn it. I’ve looked around everywhere for one of these, but can’t find a modern one anywhere. It would be ideal to hold a sock’s shape for weaving the toes of new socks together.
    Does anyone know where I can find one of these?

  399. Yes, my grandmother had a button box, and it entertained my sister and me endlessly. After she died, I asked for the box. I’ve started my own, too, and I dream of handing it down to my oldest granddaughter.
    By playing with my Nana’s box, we learned to sort by color, size, shape, learned to count, so many things. It was such a big part of our lives.

  400. we have button tubs (as in plastic butter tubs). My daughter doesn’t like candy, so when she was little, she received bags or jars of buttons at Halloween. She would spend days sorting through her buttons. Now (lucky knitter me) I have them all. I haunt the Portland store often, it’s a gem.

  401. I think most families have button bins and more than one. Many of my friends have button boxes and bins, sometimes we share when we are looking for the right buttons and someone else has them.

  402. i inherited a great button bin – i’ve never had to buy buttons, actually, because there are so many in this bin. i have replaced buttons on bought garments and put the old ones back in the bin, but it never actually occurred to me that I should be adding to the stash until i read this! I’m going to start remembering to snip off the buttons from doomed clothes and add them to the stash!
    Thanks for the idea.

  403. Wow, great button/ribbon shop, thanks for linking. Check out this ribbon there: http://www.buttonemporium.com/Ivy-Green-d384.aspx Wouldn’t it be fab to trim something to go with the beautiful Vintage Socks you made!?! (PS: I have button boxes from 2 grandmothers, 2 great aunts, and my own stash accumulated mostly from thrift shops and antique sales — the quality of the old buttons is amazing!)

  404. Actually my family has 2 button bins.
    There is my mothers, which for all intents and purposes i have noe inhereted, and is filled mostly with black, white and neutral toned circular buttons of all sizes, often single buttons, so should a pair of dress pants ever lose a button you can be sure this bin will have a match. Or if you ever needed a boring old button, this is the go-to bin. Sadly, it is also the larger of the two.
    Then, there is my bin which is filled with buttons shaped like letters and animals and strange things. And button covers (a concept i was once into because it made boring buttons pretty). And shiny things abound. I started this button bin when i was about 4 because my mother got tired of my complaining her buttons were boring. I am 22 now and my tastes don’t seem to have changed much……i wonder if this is cause for worry?

  405. I am proudly carrying on the tradition of a button bin. My family has always had a button bin, probably because my grandmother worked in a pearl button factory in Iowa. There were lots of pretty pearl buttons in my mother’s button bin. Mom’s was actually a jar so you could see all the pretty colors and shapes – of course, you had to dump them all out to find what you wanted, but that was lots of fun! I now buy buttons whenever I see them – you never know when you might need a button!

  406. I always played with my mom’s button bin when I was a kid. She’s still using it, tho, and my grandmothers are still using theirs, so I had to get my own.

  407. I also have a button bin that was passed down form someone. I’m not sure who started it but I have it now and I love going through the buttons and finding the perfect one for my project!!

  408. This really resonates with me! I adore buttons, and buy them when I see them just because I love them. I have my grandma’s button tin and go through it, although some of them are disintegrating (sob). I’m really lucky because I work about 1/2 a mile away from an awesome button store, Tender Buttons in NYC. When you come here, you should try to stop in there. They sell buttons – vintage, new, incredibly expensive and dirt cheap. It’s button mecca.

  409. My mother had one to and so do I.
    I remember looking at all the pretty buttons beliving them to be priceless stones.
    Now my daughter is looking at my buttons.

  410. Button bins/jars must be a generational thing. My mother had one, but I don’t think I found it when she passed. I have had a button “can” for years. Must be all the sewing that I have done for years. My husband was “shocked” to watch me cut buttons off of a old shirt due for the rag-bag. Why would a person do that, was no doubt his thoughts. He just shook his head and walked away.

  411. My grandmother had a button tin. It held buttons from the childhood clothes of my mother and all my aunts and uncles, plus all the buttons from my great grandmother and all my great aunts bins. I spent many, many, MANY happy hours sorting her buttons into piles of ‘jewelry’, ‘food’, ‘money’, and ‘other stuff’, and then I grew up and moved away. On a visit to my grandparents with my own young daughter in tow, I asked if she could sort the buttons. ‘Oh those things?’ My grandmother said. ‘I gave those to Barbara (neighbor) to use in craft projects with her kids. They were just taking up space.’
    I actually cried, surprising everyone – including me! I had always hoped that, when the day came, they would be the one thing that I could choose as a remembrance of visits to my grandmother, and now they’re gone. At the time I was embarrassed to be so emotional over ‘stuff’ – but even now, 10 years later, telling the story – I feel the loss. It wasn’t just stuff – it was memories, and my mother as a girl, my grandmother as a girl, as a mother, as a grandmother…those buttons were NEVER just stuff.

  412. My mom had a button tin with buttons from her mom and her mom and when I was a kid it was a special treat to play with it. Usually when I was sick, my mom would get a black metal tray and the button tin and I would make piles and then designs with them.One tactile pleasure was just to gather a handful and let them fall through my fingers, the feel and the sound is memorable. It has come in handy at times, like the time I went to cut off a tag and cut the shoulder (don’t ask me how) of the dress I was to wear to my dad’s wedding, I dug through the tin and found a variety of purply buttons to sew on the shoulder and it was a design element. I have at times put totally different old buttons on a sweater or vest and it gives it a very funky look.
    Thanks for reminding me of the button tin, I might just go run my fingers through it.

  413. My mother is laughing like a loon right about now, thinking about how I’ve always loved to sort and play with buttons. Her sewing room was downstairs and to give me something to do while she was working when I was very small she’d dump her button bin on a tray and let me sort them for hours. I was always well behaved when she was in a fabric store, because I would go stare at the button racks.
    Now *I’ve* got two generations of button bins of my own to sort through – but like yours, there are rarely enough of the ones I like to actually *use*!

  414. I have my grandma’s button can and quite often dig in it for that special old button. I also have my own button stash that is embarrasingly large. Hopefully, one of my sons will marry a knitter so I will have someone to pass it all on to because I could never make enough garments to use it all up. Definitely a case of SABLE (stash accumulation beyond life expectancy)! I met you at Madrona and showed you the fabulous glass button from Sheila that seemed to be made for my sweater in progress. I almost broke the bank at her booth and only bought 4 buttons! Each was a work of art and each will get its own garment. I recently saw this great way to convert a plain 2 hole button by using embroidery floss and a buttonhole stitch all the way around – then sew it on with a different color floss. On a solid color garment you can have a rainbow of button colors only limited by the DMC floss palate. Way too cool!
    Sarah in Snohomish, WA

  415. thank you for the glimpse into your family’s button history. they are lovely, can’t wait to see what happens with those clear flower ones. so pretty.
    I too loved playing with my grandmum’s and mum’s bins when I was little and now have my own to pass onto my daughter.

  416. I sew, knit, crochet, spin my own yarn, and I love to collect buttons (three generations and counting…)

  417. Oh yes, yes, we DO have a button box. When my daughter and son were very small I was a single mother, i.e. very limited funds and energy. The button box always came through for us on a winter day. We’d all take turns picking a button and telling a story about it. Wonderful memories, indeed!
    Thanks for the great idea about your own button box – I’m going to get started on two, one for each child.
    Judy P.

  418. I have a button treasure chest. Several of them. My Irish stepmother saved buttons like they were pieces of eight. That filled up one chest. I’m always finding buttons that I’ll find a use for–some day. That means another chest.
    The cardigan is gorgeous! As usual. πŸ™‚

  419. Those button boxes must be universal. What is it that is so special about them that we just riffle through the bin yet keep those buttons seemingly forever? I have also added my leftover buttons to the stash so I really cannot completely separate my grandmother’s from mine anymore. (3 tom turkeys are looking at me from my side yard. My they are big boys and my camera is in the house. OK. Off they go down the yard toward the pond. Regal animals).
    What was I thinking…… oh yes, that special feeling of putting my fingers into the bin and seeing what comes up.
    Thank you for helping me to remember such a nice emotion.
    Namaste

  420. I do a lot of sewing as well as knitting, and I wouldn’t know what to do without my button bin. Even when I don’t find what I want there, browsing through the bin helps me clarify what will and won’t work on a particular garment, and gives me ideas of what to look for at the store.

  421. D’oh! I was in Portland on Tuesday and I would have absolutely gone button shopping if I had known what I know now.
    Of course, now your blog post has probably caused them to completely sell out!
    Still, good to know they are there. I keep hearing Seattle is “not a good button town” (huh?) but I hear of a great button store in Vancouver, B.C. and now Portland.
    Road trip?
    I have been known to cut the buttons off a garment before getting rid of it. It is kind of a dilemma for me. I know I will never wear the garment, but if I cut the buttons off, it is no good to donate and I have turned it into garbage, if I leave the buttons on, I give up the great buttons and I don’t know if it will be tossed anyway. Don’t even suggest cutting off the great buttons and sewing cheapo replacement buttons, That Will Never Happen.
    We used to have Fabricland here, I miss it, glad to hear it has survived in Canada.

  422. Of course! I have an old metal box with cyrillic writing my great-grandmother brought over from Croatia a century ago. I’m always sad that all the details are wearing off after a century of solid use.

  423. My grandmother had a button box. I don’t know what happened to it, but I’ve had one of my own ever since I was about 13. It always has the best buttons.
    You shouldn’t be shy of using all but one or two buttons of a set.
    If you use all the buttons of a set, what are you going to do when one of them dissappears? They always do, you know, sooner or later.
    I love your buttons.

  424. I used to have a button bin from my great great aunt, but it has disappeared somewhere along the way. I believe we lost it in a house fire we had a few years ago. I mourn the loss of the button bin often. When I inherited I didn’t sew, knit, or do anything really crafty, but I recognized that it represented someone’s passion for creating. I loved picking through the buttons and admiring the vintage buttons and ones that had been clipped from various garments. Now that I have uses for them I don’t have them anymore..boo hoo. I have also started my own button bin. Most of what’s in there will probably drive my offspring crazy because it is the “extra buttons” that come with most clothing. They will never be able to come up with a complete set for anything. Insert evil laugh here.

  425. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who buys buttons without a real idea of what I will do with them. And I have a button tin too. Most of them are my mama’s and there are buttons from my wonderful green coat that I had when I was 5. Since I’m 63 now, I guess they could be considered antique..oops that means I am too. ack.

  426. I remember my grandmother’s button tin. Either my mother has it now or my older sister does. When my mother in law moved in with us, she gave me her mother in law’s buttion sack, which I try to dive into before I buy any buttons. Once on vacation, I found some great buttons that would be wonderful on an aran sweater I wanted to make, so I bought them then. Two years later, the sweater was finished and they were perfect. Now that the sweater is starting to felt and look lumpy (I’ve worn it when pregnant, not pregnant, and loved it to death,) I will eventually cut off the buttons and save them for the next perfect winter sweater. Great buttons should not be wasted. That store I bought them from never had buttons again. I check every summer.

  427. I can’t count how many fun-filled hours I spent going through our family’s button tin. I don’t know where all of the buttons came from, but I loved them. I still remember my favorites, even though I don’t have them. I had an odd attachment to those buttons.
    My mother’s mother was a truly resourceful woman who never threw a potentially useful thing in the trash. The funniest thing we found when we cleared out her sewing things was a whole stash of cuffs from pants and shirts–in case she needed to patch something later. Yes, she’s the same woman who gave unsigned cards in case the recipient might want to re-use the card. It was a different generation. πŸ™‚

  428. My grandfather worked at Rochester Button Factory. We used to have boxes and boxes of “seconds”. They’ve slowly been used up over the years. One of the sweaters I made for S (which I have yet to take pictures of!) has some of them on it.
    Garage Sales are great places to find old awesome buttons. Can’t wait until the season starts again!

  429. Someone mentioned the Olympics & I just saw on the news that it will be in Vancouver in just 2 years. We should plan for the Olympic knitting now. It can never be too soon. Since they are in Canada, something with a maple leaf might be nice. It is such a great time to knit, so much TV time & for the winter games too.

  430. Gracielou, Have you considered knitting a “green” grocery bag of your floral bias tapes? I just knitted one out of plastic grocery bags (fun!) and was pleased with the utility of the bag, but the appearance was, well, like a plastic grocery bag! Just thinking…. I’ll bet floral bias tape would make a great bag!

  431. I have both my Gran’s button bin and my mother’s. I hadn’t thought of starting one of my own. Duh. What a great idea. I actually have sorted all the buttons into smaller colour coded bins which saves A LOT of time when searching for a coloured button for say, a baby cardigan. I keep all the buttons in lovely old glass jars and they look like jars of sweets lined up on the shelf in my craft room.

  432. I’m delighted that you have discovered the wonder of buttons; I love buttons myself and particularly enjoy turning them into jewellery. I’ve bought some excellent colour-coordinated packs of buttons from here http://www.buttoncompany.co.uk/, a UK based company which is basically button heaven.
    I watched a very sad documentary on TV last night, and as it ended I felt moved to reach to the jar of purple buttons (which I just happen to keep within reaching distance of the sofa…) and sink my fingers into its lovely buttony depths, as a way of cheering myself up. It was quite effective in alleviating sadness (nearly as good as stroking and gazing upon sock yarn in moments of emotional distress).

  433. I absolutely love the buttons, and have my grandmother’s button bit. I’ve just started my own stash of buttons, and frequently raid my mother’s button bin. As an only child, eventually it too will be mine!

  434. Your post about buttons brought back such good memories. My mother had a gigantic jar full of old buttons – there were mostly clipped from old clothes. When we were kids we drew pictures & filled them in with those buttons. Mom also had a rag box where clothes that were too ragged for passing on, but were suitable for cleaning were kept. I used to raid that rag box for material to make doll clothes. Thanks for sharing – love your blog
    -Mary

  435. My grandmother had an old heavy glass bottle that kept all her buttons. It passed to my mother, and since she no longer sews, I have it now. I like your idea of starting a new one and passing both on, but I’ll have to hope to have a daughter-in-law or a granddaughter who knits or sews because I don’t think my son is likely to take it up. πŸ™‚

  436. The good families have button bins. I inherited my partner’s grandmother’s button tin and have shopped in it several times lately. It looks suspiciously like your bin.
    I like your idea of beginning your own button bin. My daughter would love it. She’s grown but still loves to shop at moms.
    Beautiful sweater by the way! Aptly named too.

  437. We had a button bin in my house when I was growing up. And I often dug my hand in to run my fingers through the delights that could be found within. When I grew up, and moved out on my own, and my dear Grandmother passed away… the only thing I asked for, was that Button bin. It its ancient old canister with the ladies on the side. And I continue to take from and add to the button bin.

  438. Yep, I’ve got a button bin (not a lot of very interesting buttons, mostly workaday types), and I know my mom has one, but it has been years since I dove into it (she lives on the other coast, and the button bin hasn’t been central to our recent visits). I love the idea of a button “stash”, may have to start adding some more remarkable buttons to my bin!

  439. My Gram had an old, round tin full of buttons that I spent many hours sifting & sorting through. She believed in reusing buttons & saved every one by cutting off buttons from old clothes. I think this was ‘good intentions’ – I never saw an old button on a newly sewn dress (we wore dresses back then!). I have an unintended collection – can’t seem to throw odd & leftover buttons away.

  440. I remember when I was little (age 10 and younger) playing with these mason jars full of buttons at my great grandmothers house. I remember that they would be sorted by color, size, decoration, whatever attribute appealed to me at the time. They became my inheritance when she passed, 20 years later though they are still at her house. (I don’t visit very often, and when I do, the cousin who lives in the house can’t remember where she saw them last). I have to get myself down there again to help her look (only about 2 hour drive)

  441. Hi Stephanie,
    I am a long time reader but not a knitter (ducking balls of yarn tossed at my head LOL) but I had to comment on the button box. My mother had a mason jar full of buttons and my aunt who lived near us had an old cookie tin that the paint was almost worn off of. As a child, I thought that was an antique family heirloom. Sadly, our house burned down when I was six, and though the wonderful black Singer sewing machine was saved, the button jar and most everything else was not. That sewing machine was purchased when my mother was pregnant with me. Later, I got the contents of my great aunt’s button box (which included zippers and all other sorts of sewing salvage) and my kids played with it all the time. I don’t know what happened to the box. ;-( One daughter used to sit and just run her hands through my button bin, like you would a pirates chest full of rare and exotic jewels. Then much later, I happened to spot a worn old cookie tin at a yard sale, that looked much like that “family heirloom”. I picked it up and went to pay for it and the elderly lady that was selling it told me long stories about that button box and her kids and grandkids poring through it. I told her my stories, and in the end she refused to let me pay for it because she knew it would be loved in it’s new home. I’ve added to those two old stashes of buttons by buying bags of buttons at both Fabricland and Fanny’s fabrics (now out of business sadly) and my stash of loose assorted buttons now fills a rubbermaid dish basin. It is something my grandkids ask for before any high tech toys or games. One of their favorite activities is to pick out all the beautiful mother of pearl buttons and separate them from the multitudes of plastic and wooden ones. Since these are almost all very tiny, it is a veritable needle in a haystack to find the MOP buttons, but they do it. I have already put aside about 30 teeny tiny MOP buttons that have little flowers carved into them. I cannot imagine modern buttons that would have been made with such care and detail. I’m saving those for the perfect heirloom gown out of Swiss batiste and French lace. Something that will showcase the beauty of these little gems. Hmmmmm Sorry this comment so long, but when you mentioned buttons, it sent me on a walk down a long rambling memory lane.

  442. I love your “button bin” and comments about your grandmother’s saved buttons. When I was a small child and spent time with my great-grandmother, she had a bucket of buttons and she would give me a darning needle threaded with string and a knot on the bottom. I would happily string buttons, making necklaces and whatever, and after I went home she could cut the knot off and put the buttons back. I love buttons to this day and cherish the small bucket of buttons that I inherited from my mother. Some of them look much like your old buttons. Sometimes I even find buttons for my projects there.

  443. I “inherited” (stole) my mom’s sewing box a few years ago. Along with vintage thread and boy scout patches there’s a stash of buttons πŸ™‚

  444. Next time you are in Portland you should check out the Mill End store. They have a bargain room that has a bin of buttons that are such a joy to dip your hands into. That is the first place I head when I need a big button for one of my purses and now for magnets.

  445. My sister inherited the family button bin when she was about 15 and studying dressmaking at school. I used to sneak over to her side of the room and dig my hand in, pulling out buttons and playing with them.
    When I left home, I collected all the loose buttons off my clothes, the spare buttons that came with things, pretty buttons from things that fell apart.
    My future husband bought me a little glass box to put jewellery in. I put my buttons in it.
    Now they are in a drawer with knitting notions. Must get them out and give them a more dignified home.
    Thanks for the memories.

  446. Yep, an old red cookie tin of Mom’s, or maybe older. Hard to shut the cover, as it is too full. Every once in awhile I find something to use in there, but most of the sets of several have been used by now. One of the great prizes in there was a rather large two-holed button–just the right size to put a string through, wind up, and make it sing. Kids today should have such toys!

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