Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tiny Traces of History Between the Buttonholes

I have plans to start a 1940s day dress after finishing the cocktail dress (it's nearly done! photos coming soon), and one version of the dress has sweet little buttons down the front bodice. I started poking around the webbernets for buttons, to see if any inspired me to deal with the hassle of stitching on a couple dozen buttons.

And some did.

I found these vintage buttons in my browsing, and was smitten--some of the wee little ones are darling, some of the larger ones make a statement. I know they seem simple-and they are--but it was the note on a few of the products that really captured my imagination.

Made in occupied Japan in 1947.

Now, I love vintage clothing and old hats and antique photographs and any number of items with histories just as storied as these buttons. But I've always, I think, thought of the individual people who owned the items, not the incredible chain of hands that touched the materials that created the items. In pre-industrial eras I think we consider this more--the hand-quilted petticoats, the deftly embroidered pieces. Handmade thread buttons.

But manufactured mother-of-pearl buttons? I had forgotten that hands made these, too. And what an interesting pair of hands--hands working in a factory in an occupied country shortly after a devastating war.

There's a story in those buttons.

I'll be wearing a story on the dress I sew, and it won't even be my own.


Connie said...

I love buttons too. I just hate sewing them on. When my daughter was little, I made her outfits with cute buttons: strawberries, ladybugs, etc.

Rowenna said...

Connie--what great inspiration for kids' clothes :)