New Year’s Resolution: Purge and tidy sewing room!
It’s January, the perfect time to clear the clutter so I can focus on my new 2016 projects. It would be hard to convince you given the current state of my room, but I love the feeling I get when my home is clean and all the hidden nooks and crannies are tidied, but…
My home has always been the place that most inspires me – even in the mess.
My Life In Buttons
First up, and because they were already out and all over the place, I began with my buttons of which there seemed to be millions. They were in cookie tins, bags and boxes. At least half of these were originally Mum’s; Nana taught her girls to cut buttons off all garments before discarding (also zippers, buckles, special trims, etc.), a practice Mum continued ’til the very end of her life and which Auntie Pam maintains to this very day.
My wanderings down memory lane are often inspired by these buttons… As a wee girl I’d find hours of happy amusement sitting on the floor of Mum’s sewing room and playing in the button tin. I confess, my joy in this pursuit has never waned. I am a sentimental person with an emotional attachment and memory associated with so many of these buttons. It’s not so much that I value the buttons themselves, it’s the recollections and the stories they invoke that I don’t want to forget. With my resolution at front of mind, I tried hard not to think too hard about the buttons I was eliminating lest that impede my act of letting them go.
Even though it was a complete pain to go through all the button containers, it was the best feeling in the world when they were confined to 5 intentional vessels that almost make my stock seem cute and well-played. My buttons are now a visual stimulant that will, I hope, inspire future creativity.
42 Ugly Square White Buttons
Nana’s, Mum’s Dads, my and more recently Cam’s wardrobes are all documented in my vast collection of buttons – started by Mum and continued by me. At a glance I can tell you the garment of origin of and a fond memory associated with most of my buttons. Most…
During my sorting process I came across first one, then two, then several, then many square, thick, white, sew-through buttons. Forty-two of them, in fact. Forty-two exceedingly ugly buttons. With no back story. With no associated memory. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what type of garments they may have come from and there must have been more than one article of clothing bearing these hideous buttons, given the staggering number. And they’ve been used – they weren’t new. I washed them, set them in a plastic plate – first on the kitchen counter, then on my desk, then on my dresser where I thought frequent viewing might kindle a recollection. Simply not so!
They beg the question: What on earth was Mum thinking, saving these oh-so-ugly buttons? I don’t think she’d ever have used them on anything she’d lovingly sewn – for me or anyone else – at least I hope that’s true. Yet there they were, mixed in with all the amazing treasures in her Buckingham Palace cookie tin, all forty-two of them. Eventually, I called Auntie Pam and, after the pleasantries had been exchanged, I mentioned finding them. I described them in detail including their copious numbers. Like me, she was completely stymied. I had a follow-up e-mail message from her; she’d quickly conned some photo albums looking for them but without success. The mystery lives. It may never be solved. I do love a good intrigue!*
In the needle arts community, buttons can adorn or even become folk art. I wanted (needed, maybe) to do something with these buttons. My mum was nothing if not practical; to have saved these buttons, she must have envisioned using them in some manner. I decided to honour them by mounting them on my favourite hand-dyed batik and hanging them in my sewing room thinking that, perhaps, if I look at them enough, an associative memory will eventually surface…
Yes, indeed, my home is the place that inspires me most.
[*Marguerite: “Ever After – A Cinderella Story”]