The Button Box


Did your Grandmother or your mother have a button box in her sewing room or sewing machine cabinet? My Grandmother had one in her treadle sewing machine drawer. When the machine was open and ready for her to sew it was sitting out where she could reach it easily. I was always fascinated with the long metal box that held so many colorful buttons.
There were buttons of every size and color you could think of. The buttons for my little dresses were tiny little buttons that matched each dress she made for me. The buttons she used on her everyday dresses were about the size of a nickel or quarter and usually the color of the dress.

She made some soft pretty dresses for her to wear to church and those dresses always had smaller and fancier buttons on them. Some of them even had a few rhinestones on them. She didn’t wear jewelry very often and even when she did it was never sparkly or flashy. It was mostly beads shaped like pearls in colors to match her dresses.

When I was given Grandmother’s sewing machine, after she passed away, I found the long narrow metal box of buttons in one of the drawers of the old sewing machine. There were still enough buttons in the box to make dresses for her or for me.

Grandmother sewed all the time for herself and for some of the grandkids. Well, I know she sewed for me and made everything I wore until I was a sophomore in high school. My sophomore year was when she passed away. I’m sure most of the buttons that were on my dresses were new but I bet she reused the buttons she had on her dresses when a dress wore out.

The little button box brought back a lot of memories for me when I opened it and saw the buttons that were in it. Even now I can remember some of the dresses she wore and knew just which dresses the left over buttons were from.

I was surprised that I could remember almost all the dresses that she had left over buttons for in the button box. But I did spend every day with her while mom slept after working all night at the telephone company as an operator and dad was working at the Lumber Yard.
Grandmother always wore a fancy full slip, her only extravagance for clothes. Over that fancy slip was a dress that was almost always a soft almost see through fabric. For church or family dinners and in the winter I think she wore dresses that were heavier.

But normally when most of the family was not there they were very light weight fabric. I never was sure why she wore the light weight fabric most of the time, until I got older and started to have hot flashes. Now I understand.

They didn’t have central air in their house; all they had was an evaporator air conditioner in the bedroom off the living room. Even though it was pretty big it probably didn’t do much to cool the kitchen where she was most of the time. Plus the air from air conditioner made the air damp and sticky.

The dress in the photo was a company or church dress that was heavier but still had the ever present buttons that were probably recycled from an earlier dress. The dress she is wearing in the photo was a light blue with white collar and trim on the sleeves. The buttons were darker blue or navy.

So did your mother or Grandmother have a button box in her sewing machine cabinet? If she had one or has one now it is full of memories of dresses past that are waiting for a new life outside of the button box. To contact Sandy: [email protected]


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