Monday, 15 February 2016

The Button Box

If you sew, you will almost certainly have a box (or more likely for some reason, tin) of buttons. Ideally it will be augmented with choice items from your mum's and your grannies' collections - or is that just me?

Possibly not, as author Lynn Knight has used her own assortment of three generations-worth of fastenings as the starting point for her latest book. "The Button Box" looks at women's lives in the last century or so through the clothes they wore; you can read a review here.

The book isn't out yet, so I haven't had a chance to look at it, but a couple of references in the review certainly struck a chord with me.

Firstly, her reference to embroidered name tapes coming in quantities too large to be used up in a lifetime. When I was a member of Ya Raqs, eight women storing identical costumes in limited space at an event was a recipe for confusion, but for the two of us whose mothers had kept our remaining name tapes (and more importantly, had remembered where they'd kept them), life was much easier!

Secondly, this splendid headline from the Derbyshire Times in 1948 may go some way to explaining why my enthusiasm for dressmaking in general, and vintage dressmaking in particular, has come from the Cheshire side of my family rather than the Derbyshire side:“The ‘New Look’: Chesterfield Women ‘Just Not Interested’”.

Update: Having now read the book, I can thoroughly recommend it. From the 'jet' (more likely, glass) buttons of Victorian mourning to the plastics of the Swinging Sixties, and even on to the recent interest in vintage clothing, Lynn Knight combines family stories with social history to paint a fascinating portrait of women's lives.

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