Monday, July 25, 2011

Old-Timey Button String and Bracelet

I remember my mom having a button necklace.  I'll have to ask her if she still has one because I was always pretty fascinated by it.  Laura and Mary in By The Banks of Plum Creek make a button string for their little sister, Carrie.  Buttons were precious back then and were saved from one's childhood and even a mother's childhood as well.  Some buttons came from shops or peddlers, some were carved by hand, some were made of glass, wood, bone, shell, silver, and brass.  (During the Civil War in Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, buttons were made by covering acorns with fabric!)  Old-fashioned buttons came in shapes of blackberries and a dog's head, or had tiny raised castles and bridges and trees on them.  I found instructions for making a button bracelet that was very similar to my mom's necklace.  My mom also had tons of buttons.  She eventually gave them to me and being an A-Type Personality, I made it my mission in life to find a use for each and every one of them.  I don't even remember what I used them for!  It would have been nice to make a button string of the more unusual ones as a memento.

This is an appropriate activity for five yr. olds and up.  As with all small objects, keep buttons and button strings away from small children.
I was given a trunk of beautiful mementos left by a neighbor of my mother's who really had no one left to leave it to.  In the trunk was an old-fashioned wicker sewing box and in that was a small collection of buttons (pictured).
Take your collection of buttons and using heavy thread (like quilting thread), 10 inches to 12 inches long--or longer if you wish, and double knot a small button to one end of the thread to keep the other buttons from sliding off.  Slide buttons onto the thread which can be stiffened with a few drops of glue (Laura and Mary would have used melted candle wax), or an embroidery needle can be used.  When satisfied with the button string, make a double knot after the last button on the string with the end of the thread.  Clip the loose end of the thread.  ("Baby Carrie's Button String," My Little House Crafts Book ISBN 0439059585)

For a button bracelet, thread needle with about 40 inches of thread and knot ends together.  Insert the needle from the back to the front of a white pearl shirt button, leaving a short tail of thread on the back.  Then insert the needle from front to back through the hole opposite the first hole as shown in Fig. 1. Knot the thread on back of button to secure.
Insert needle through first hole of same button again, add a gold bead and insert needle through second hole as before.
Insert needle from back to front of brown shirt button (or whatever colors you prefer--just have to be shirt buttons).  Add a gold 3mm x 6mm gold oval bead and insert needle through second hole of brown button as shown in Fig. 1.  (You can skip the gold beads if preferred.  My mom's necklace was made with only white pearl buttons).  Slide second button up tight to back of first button as shown in Fig. 2.
Continue to add buttons and beads in this way, alternating white and brown buttons so all white buttons are on one side and all brown buttons are on the other side and the right side of each button is topped with a gold bead.  Keep thread taut and buttons close together as you work.  When bracelet is large enough to fit over your hand, join the ends together and fasten off thread.  (I think this came from Reminisce magazine).  

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