March 1, 2011

Button, Button, who's got the Button?

BUTTONS !!!  I LOVE buttons... I collect, sew and create buttons.  My love for the button began when I was a small child.  My Grandmother would give me her "Button Box" to keep me occupied while she created outfits for the family to wear.  I would spend hours sorting buttons by color, shape and size.  I now own "Gramma's Button Box" and I am proud to say,  I also know every button in the box!
Now... have you ever given thought of where the button began.  Buttons made their debut over 3,000 years ago, during the Bronze Age.  They were fashioned from bone, horn, wood, metal and even seashells.  The buttonhole wasn't invented until about  the 1200's so these buttons were nothing more than simple decorations.
The word button appeared in France and came from the word "bouton" for bud or "bouter" to push.  The french were quick to spot the potential of the button and by 1250 had established the Buttton Makers Guild.  The Guild produced beautiful buttons of great artistry and as a result the button became a status symbol and once again were being used not just for fastening clothing but as an adornment.  The attraction for buttons resulted in outfits adorned with thousands of buttons.  Dressing and undressing became a chore.  In 1520 King Francis I of France had over 13,000 buttons adorning his clothing while he met with King Henry VIII of England.  He also sported as many buttons on his clothing.
In America buttons were imported, until, 1812 when the demand for everyday objects like cloth and buttons grew.  In America,  factories began to produce many fine buttons in quanties not previously possible.  Some of the finest buttons ever manufactured were crafted during the "Golden Age" of button making in America, 1830 - 1850.  In addition to the increase in mass-production, new types of materials were being discovered.  Hard rubber was introduced by Goodyear.   Plastic, glass and china, also popular button materials.  Buttons were mass produced as simply and cheaply as possible, and came in all shapes and sizes.  Fortunately, for all of us, there are still artisans today that believe beautiful buttons should be available for everyone to enjoy and treasure.  Button clubs, such as the National  Button Society have fought to preserve the integrity of the button.

Kate's Button Collection
 Today, many homes still have the "Button Box", but with today's busy lifestyle few people take the time to sew buttons on anything.  But, the future of the button seems secure despite the popularity of Velcro.
So the question is... Have you every sewed on a button?  It's surprising how many have not!  Don't be afraid it's easy.  Just follow these simple steps below...
1. Choose a button.

needle, thread and button
 2.  Choose the thread color that matches the button.
3. Cut a piece of thread about 20 inches long.
4. Thread  the needle.
5. Move the needle to the middle of the thread and fold the thread in half.  Tie a not where both ends meet at
    the bottom.
The thread is doubled and ready to sew.
6.  Place the button on top of the material where you want to sew it into place.
7.  From under the material, push the needle up through the material and one of the holes on the button.  Pull the thread all the way through until the knot is anchored against the material.
8.  Push the needle down through the second hole on the button and through the material.
9.  Repeat steps 7 and 8 three times, going up and down so that each hole is secured by mulitple strands.
10. End with the needle on the material side  and secure it with a knot.  Double-knot this end.

So now you know a little history about the button.  When I dig though my button collection I try to think about where each button came from and the many times the button was buttoned.  I hope this too helps you to think differently about the button, where it came from and its many uses.

Handmade buttons, made from clay.
Painted with an underglaze and ready to be
fired in a kiln.
 I also LOVE button crafts! In future Creative Chicks Cafe Blogs we will have several button craft tutorials.  If you have any buttons ideas let us know so we can share them with everyone!!!
-Kate

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