Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another shirt, and the story of Nan's buttons.

My best friend, who is also my daughter's godmother, was blessed to have a wonderful grandmother called Nan. Unfortunately, I never got to meet Nan, but I had long admired the wonderful knits she had made for my bestie, and listened with great pleasure to the stories of the clothes she would make for her and her brother when they were little. Not only did she seemed to be a skilled seamstress and knitter, but in every photo I've ever seen of her, she is beaming out to the world. The best kind of Nan, by all accounts.

A few years ago, after Nan  had passed on and the house was being cleared out, my friend and her mum came across some of Nan's sewing supplies, including a huge plastic bag full of buttons. Nan had kept every button from every item of clothing that could no longer be repaired, and squirreled them away for a sewing rainy day. After going through the buttons themselves and keeping the ones that had especial sentimental value to them, my friend and her mum decided to give the bag of buttons to me, as I was the only crafter they knew who would appreciate them. And appreciate them I did! It felt like an honour to be entrusted with something kept so carefully by one who was loved so much by people so important to me.

Fast forward to this weekend, and there I am, beavering away on my sewing machine to finish another shirt for Grumbles. Usually when I buy fabric, I have a very particular project in mind and try and get all my notions and bits 'n' bobs at the same time, but for some reason I didn't buy any buttons when I purchased the fabric to make this shirt. But before the button panic could commence, I remembered Nan's button stash. I found the bag, hunted about and found the perfect set of buttons. One still even had the original thread caught in the holes.

Now the cynics might scoff and say "Buttons. Really, dudes. What's the big deal?" but to my mind, this is the best kind of recycling. I'm giving new life to something that was important to somebody, even though it might seem small and insignificant to others. I'm keeping the crafting spirit of Nan alive, and forging another life tapestry string between me, my daughter, my best friend and her grandmother. These are not bonds that can easily be broken. Tyger is proud that I would entrust Nan's buttons to her wearing, and my best friend was moved to tears to think that Nan's buttons were not only being given another shot at use, but that we were helping keep the memory of Nan alive in their use.

So here, my friends, is another shirt for Tyger. The shirt may be new, but those buttons have got a heck of a pedigree!

Shirt #1

Shirt #2

Shirt #3

Project Details
Rousku shirt (no. 23) from Ottobre Design magazine 4/2010
Fabric: 1m of organic cotton from the Scamper collection by Birch fabrics, purchased from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 3 of Nan's carefully kept buttons, iron-on interfacing


  1. Gorgeous? Love the shirt, fabric and buttons and my oh my, beautiful sleeve setting in !!!

  2. Your daughter looks delightfully happy with her new shirt, its gorgeous Jorth! I agree about the buttons, a friend gave me their family button jar and was surprised by my excitement, heck it had 3 generations of buttons collected by my friend (modern), her mother (mostly 50s style) and her grandmother (some gorgeous glass buttons among others). Very special and much appreciated :) I plan to spend an afternoon sorting through them soon.

  3. Beautiful shirt. I missed out on my nana's button stash as she passed away before I got "crafty" as you say. Apparently it was quite a collection. {sigh} I do miss my nana too...

  4. Beautiful and such a lovely tribute to Nan. And Tyger is clearly chuffed!

  5. I still save buttons off clothes that have come to the end of their wearable life, before they're turned into cleaning cloths (buttons + cleaning cloth = cleaning fairy's tears). Add those to a button stash I have been quietly accumulating for 30 years, and hey presto! I have a button for every occasion.

  6. A lovely story and a lovely shirt.

  7. Very pretty indeed as is your model. Ps I am a button hoarder too and so glad to hear you are making use of ' Nans' collection!

  8. I suspect Nan would be rather pleased. This is a beautiful shirt and a fitting tribute to a lady who was obviously very special indeed. We can only hope to leave such a legacy.

  9. I'm quite choked up by that little story! I think that crafting is a very definite link to past generations, and your story is very tangible proof of that. I think the shirt looks amazing and the buttons are a perfect match.

  10. I'm with you on the special buttons!
    I have a box full of old buttons that were passed on to me from my dad's partner; she received them from a very old lady who'd started her collection with her grandma's buttons. It's a joy to be able to use a special button on a special garment (like this shirt!)

  11. Anonymous2:38 am

    What a great story about your best friend are her Nan. Other nonsewists might not think it's special but I am on your side - they are!

  12. Anonymous10:43 am

    The shirt is awesome and so is the story. Buttons are actually the most important part of the shirt. These are imbued with soul!


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