Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

September 20, 2008

As cute as a button

Do you have a button box? What's inside?

Until this week, mine was very austere. I like buttons, but my button box has been more about purpose than form. Its a small box filled with functional single buttons: spares from new garments; orphans from the wash; and generics for emergencies. Living separately in the fabric stash, have been a few cards of buttons destined for children's trousers and one little set of pretty Czech glass buttons that I found recently at The Button Bower. Unlike fabric and patterns, I haven't hoarded buttons. They have been purchased as needed.

So the Hoppo Bumpo button box has hardly been the stuff that buttony dreams are made of.

This week, however, I was very excited when my Mum suggested that we look through her button box and I pick out some treasures to bring home. Mum has full sets of buttons, sorted into colours and some of them are very old. Some belonged to my Nan, who was the most wonderful seamstress. I remember being allowed to play with my Nan's wooden button box when I was a little girl. As far as I was concerned, those buttons were as good as jewels.

So Mum and I sat and sorted through the buttons. Each colour grouping was deep enough to be dug out of its container using a serving spoon. Each of the buttons had a past history. It was fabulous. Now I have beautiful instant button collection, plus some vintage snaps and trim.

So what to do with these absolute beauties?

There seem to be endless possibilities. Perhaps some purpose-sewn garments to show off particular buttons.? Or maybe I could go all King Francis I (c.1520) and put them all on one outfit. Of course I don't think I own quite the 13,600 buttons that the French King is reputed to have had sewn on one royal outfit. (I'd like to have seen that button box ...)

NB. I'm most disappointed to learn that the expression Cute as a button (coincidentally also used over here today) in fact refers to quail - Button Quail. I can't say that I fancy quail in my button box - they'd really clutter things up.


  1. Love the collection! I have made a shirt around buttons in the past. I pick the button first then the fabric.

  2. At first I though you were asking if I had a buxom box. So perverse! heh heh
    You have beautiful buttons. No, I don't have any as lovely as those, I wish.

  3. I truly <3 my button box. We have it separated out into two boxes, one containing 'Henry' and the other 'non-Henry' buttons. 'Henry' buttons means they are suitable for little kids to play with.

  4. The square ones could be earrings? I made some earrings from some mother of pearl buttons from my great-great-grandmother's button box, but one fell out, alas!

    I've got a colection of mother of pearl ones that I'm planning to sew all over a bag, if I ever get it done I'll call it my 'King of France' bag!

  5. Oooh, buttons... my favourite crafty tool... You have inspired a post for later today...

  6. I used to do the same with Mum's buttons too. These are the things that I want my little girl to remember and then maybe she will value simple things more than jewels and money. xox

  7. I remember as a child sorting mum's big bag of buttons into colours and styles - they weren't as lovely as your mum's collection though!

    If I could master my automatic button holer, I might be tempted to extend my collection, but until then, buttons and I aren't on great terms...

  8. I have button envy looking at those treasures that you got from your Mum!

  9. Yep, button envy over here too!
    Quails... hmm, no they might poop in there! Grandma would be very disappointed!

  10. my mum has some fabulous leather buttons and very English styles from the early 60s, and i really loved looking through them as a kid. she NEVER uses them for anything but will she part with them?? not on your nelly. in frustration i have started my own pale imitative collection but its away from prying eyes and little fingers for now...


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