Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Buttons are magic.

I used to work for a fabric shop where we had a huge bowl of loose random buttons on the table. Almost every customer who came in, regardless of age, would run their fingers through the bowl and say whistfully 'I used to play with my Mothers/Grandmothers buttons when I was a child'. These small colourful sweet-like treasures evoke a childlike enthusiasm in the most disinterested crafter. They also bring out my otherwise almost completley non-existant OCD side: there is something about a bowl of buttons that makes me want to sort them into piles of size, shape and colour.

I can't explain it.

But buttons can also be scary: I have a friend who is a very talented and successful costume maker who has a phobia of buttons (I am not joking!) No it's not rational, but that's why it's called a phobia.

Anyone who is interested in sewing and crafts in Sydney, Australia knows about The Button Shop in Newtown, or All Buttons Great and Small as it is actually named. It does for button lovers what libraries full of dusty books, leather armchairs and stepladders do for avid readers. And its not just it's wonderful quirky window displays, this is an entire shop dedicated to row apon row of beautifully sorted tubes of buttons from the cheap and cheerful to the extravagent. All the fashion and costume houses, as well as home sewers use this shop. Its incredible.

Don't believe me, here's a link

So since I moved to the UK seven years ago, I have been looking for a British rival to this wonderful shop, but alas have been unable to find one.

Until now.

A few weeks ago I was in Bath and stumbled upon the Bartlett Street Antique Centre, a room full of high quality market-like dealers, mostly specialising in jewellery. And it was there that I found Jessie's Button Box.

Jessie has an amazing collection of vintage and antique buttons on cards, labelled and is surprisingly affordable (at least by my London standards). Its great to have so much choice, but also quantity as well. I am making a concerted effort to minimise my stash so I only bought 3 types of buttons that I knew would be useful. (ok the white/cream ones were bought with a purpose in mind, the black ones are just extremely pretty). The black and white ones are 1930s glass and the cream plastic sparkly ones are 1950s. I bought 3 sets of vintage buttons for £14! I would definitely consider making the trip from London to Bath if I had a few pieces that needed buttons. Yes it's THAT good!!

Recently on her tv show Kirsty Allsop said the words 'my favourite vintage ribbon shop'. How many vintage ribbon shops does she use? And yet I completely understand. I now have a favourite vintage button shop. What's your favourite haberdashery shop?

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