I went looking for button boxes on the internet yesterday and was surprised to find out most of them are electronic gizmos, not the decorated box or little wicker basket or whatever that held clothing buttons in the past. Like any kid of my generation, I used to go through my mother’s button basket.
There are brighter buttons down further in the box, yellow, and green, and red.
Women of that era who were bereaved had to have black clothes quickly. Dresses could be dyed, but colored buttons would have to be exchanged for jet buttons. Then after the mourning period ended, the dress would be put away for the next death. The dress might have been altered for another wearing or for another wearer, and when it was worn out, the buttons would have been cut off and saved for another dress.
It had a collection of shoe buttons (they are at the bottom of this photograph).
After I learned to sew, I used to sift through the button boxes, matching buttons and putting them on safety pins, finding the prettiest buttons and imagining making something suitable for them, and then I’d get on my bicycle and ride to the fabric store to see if I could find something I could afford that would be close to my vision.
In yesterday’s internet hunt, I found that plenty of people are now making button quilts, with the buttons providing a bold center design, or being sewed on in place of yarn ties, or used to outline appliques, among a myriad of ideas. Maybe that’s how my buttons should be used.
But then what would the boxes and pots and baskets hold?