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Denis Marshall Pickles
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 09:38
Button Boxes
Back in the 30’s and 40’s when I was growing up in Sutton, mothers were skilled at ‘make do and mend’. Socks were darned, pullovers mended, shirts patched and missing buttons were replaced with one that matched, or nearly so, taken from the button box. Dads did their bit too, prolonging the time between having boots and shoes soled and heeled by fixing segs in strategic places. I can’t recall anyone's dad being able to re-iron clogs. They needed the attention of Eli Preston!
The other day I decided that rather than throw away a pair of socks which had developed holes, allowing ventilation to my big toes, I would practice the art of darning which I had hardly done since being discharged from the army. It was whilst rummaging round the redundant sewing chest for wool and needles, that I came across the button box - an old toffee tin containing an immense variety of buttons cut from old clothes and stored for future use. ‘They’ll come in sometime’. And the discovery of that box reminded me of the pleasure I used to get when , as a child I was allowed to play with the contents of my mother’s button box or better still, the contents of my grannies button box. Buttons came in all shapes and sizes. There were buttons made from opalescent mother-of-pearl cut from worn out shirts and blouses, buttons with four holes and some with two. In my grannies box there were lots of black buttons of various shapes, probably cut from clothing worn in the Victorian era, there were rubber buttons which had originated on the dreaded Liberty Bodice, but the ones I liked best were the big ones made of coloured glass which I could hold up to my eye and look at the coal fire burning in the hearth which was then, in my imagination, transformed into a magical fairy tale castle. Simple pleasures!
I don’t suppose in these days of the throw away society that mothers keep button boxes any more and if they do, I doubt whether youngsters will be allowed to play with the contents. Somebody prove me wrong!
PS. I decided against darning my socks and threw them away!
Janet Hargreaves
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 14:46
I have a wonderful button box which I played with as a child and then inherited from my mother who was a dressmaker. Mine also acts as a memory box as many of the buttons were 'spares' from the strips of button she used to use when she made some of my delightful clothes. I have just started to pass on some its contents to my grand daughter.
Stephen Bielby
Sutton in Craven
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 10:53
We have one, and a sewing box - dont understand how any of it works though - same with ironing :)
Joan M. Tindale
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 13:50
Also got a button jar with memories, my Grandchildren also used to like playing with them, have a friend whose daughter used to call one Grandma "Playbuts Grandma" haha!
Brenda Whitaker was Grime
Queensland Australia
Thursday, February 4, 2010 04:45
Yep - I still have mine, it was once a tea caddy - I got it out the other day looking for something 'that would do' to fix my 20yr old grand daughter's dress - and I found what I needed! It isnt unusual for these jobs to come to Nana with a - you'll have something to fix it wont you?
Some of the things in there are nearly as old as me - yes Denis, even a rubber liberty bodice button! I also found my well polished Girl Guide badge from the days when I was Guide Captain and held our sessions at the Chapel in the back room. This was the room that served as the girls dressing room when all the various shows were on. I found other memories in there too. And, yesterday I found this website and have hardly moved since.
I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland these days and this is our most humid month of the year so I am happy to sit in front of a PC and trip down memory Lane.
I am enjoying all the photos and comments so thank you all for the years of contributions.
Sue Morgan
Kings Arms
Saturday, February 13, 2010 14:33
I have the button box too Dennis that was my Mums....she too was a seamstress and everything was cut off old things, not just buttons but zips and hooks and eyes. It's all in a big brown Mackintosh tin that is ??????? years old. Yes, i played with the whole contents and my children too. Did you ever make those zingers.....a button on a piece of string and then just pull it in and out zinged!!! Later we made the forefathers of the whoopee cushion...buuton on a piece of string wound tight and then sit on it on a wooden chair.....great fun. What's lovely too is seeing buttons that were on clothes that my Mum made me when i was young.....thank you for remembering the good old button box.

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