Think back. Did your mom use a button box? Maybe it was your grandmother, or your aunt,with an enormous collection of buttons jumbled together in a tin, or a box, or a coffee can. My mom sewed most of our clothes — I remember in particular when I was 9- or 10-years-old, and Mom made me a beautiful shift dress from a dark purple jersey fabric with some kind of flowery pattern, (more about that later.) I remember when we picked the fabric; I remember Mom sewing — my dress or someone’s; but more than anything else, I remember Mom’s button box.
The button box was a tin, the same size around as a pie plate, and 3-4″ tall. (I guess at the size — I was so much smaller then.) It was filled nearly to the brim with buttons of every size, shape, and color; buttons made of plastic, of wood, covered with cotton or wool fabric, or bare. The word is delight — I delighted playing around in that box, trying to find matching buttons, or lining up crazy combinations. Each time, I threw myself into this treasure hunt.
I loved when Mom asked me to choose the buttons for a garment she sewed. I would make it a real project — choosing color, and size, and texture, retrieving the perfect button, then finding no match, so I would dig through again. I remember sitting next to Mom — on her bed, I think — listening as she told me about different buttons and why she would choose one over others. This memory also includes me asking Mom why jersey stretched, unlike all the other fabrics she used.
Along with my button box memories are memories of leftover pieces of fabric; I didn’t play so much with these, but I loved to look at them and remember the garment Mom had made from each. I got a kick out of picking up and folding those scraps, after Mom cut out a pattern, making each as close to the same size as the others — a neat little stack. I don’t have any deep reason for writing about this, but I remember very clearly what a wonderful treat, watching Mom sew, and digging into that button box. My memory is clear, for the most part, and certainly true to what I was feeling then — I have an enormous grin on my face.
Thank you, Mom, for allowing me to turn the button box, as mundane an item as one could find, into a treasure hunt, and to watch you sew them on. This is a very happy childhood memory, and the box, and you. deserve recognition
Did anyone else ever play in a button box, or in supplies used to create something for you? If so, let’s exercise virtually by digging back into that precious collection of unmatched buttons, or a piece of fabric too small to use as a whole item. I remember fun. Do you?