Hardest button to button

I have a broken button. The 4th down on the shirt I’m wearing is broken, cracked in two, with each piece remaining attached by the merest of threads.

When I get home I’ll unpick the spare button attached to the label, remove the broken button and sew on the spare button. Yes, I can sew. Well at least enough to put a button on a shirt.

Hang on, that’s not right!

What I meant to say was that, when I get home, I’ll take the shirt off and chuck it in the bin. I’ll buy a new one at the weekend, maybe two, and a new jacket, maybe even a pair of shoes. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

It’s what we do, isn’t it. Consume. Hoard. Discard.

I remember learning to sew on a button at school. Home economics it was called, we made all sorts of useless rubbish, a felt pencil case and I’m sure we even made a stuffed toy hippopotamus.

Further lessons in practical matters were picked up at Boys’ Brigade, although none of them were based on sewing.

Yet today I fall all too easily into the modern society trap of ‘if it’s broke, don’t fix it’. So much easier to discard what is broken and buy in a replacement.

I wonder if the credit crunch will impact that, not only the amount of cash available to purchase new items but being able to go to a store that sells what you need? Where, in your average small town high street, would you go to buy a button? Hardware store? Haberdashery (if they have one), Woolworths?

Anyway, such considerations are scary and horrid so best not to dwell on them, and it’s not MY fault these businesses are closing, they should’ve been more careful with the amount of debt they were running up. Shouldn’t they.

So, the act of binning this shirt with the broken button is actually me doing my bit to help the remaining stores. After all, if I fixed it then I wouldn’t need to go and buy a new one, thereby stimulating the economy. Yes, I’m certain my £7 will make a world of difference to Primark.


  1. Ian's Mum said:

    I was wondering last night about much the same thing, like where would I get insoles for my bowling shoes now that Woolies is gone. I know, a shoe repair shop, but I can’t browse around there after I have made my purchase, looking at all kinds of ‘unnecessary plastic things’ (Nanci Griffiths song about Woolworths). Woolworths has been in my home town all my life, I was taken there by my Grandpa for a book when I was three… Alice in Wonderland. I bought my first plastic earings there when I was 10 and a tin , yup, a tin of toothpaste. I was banned from it at lunchtime when I was at the Academy as were the other 1050 pupils. I also won my argument with them allowing me to take a pram, complete with baby, inside when I was 26. However I am probably to blame for it’s demise, the odd insole or button or two is not going to keep it going, but I feel as if I have lost a very good friend. God help me if M & S goes too. So maybe you could buy your shirt there?

    January 7, 2009
  2. K said:

    Spooky. Was just thinking that (a la my Gran, and her Mum, and probably her Mum before her) I should have a button box. To keep all those spare buttons off the clothes I buy instead of keeping them on the label and forgetting about them when i iron, leaving interestingly shaped shiny bits on my clothes. Or cutting them off the plastic tags, then sitting them in a drawer somewhere and forget where you put them (always in different drawers :/ ).

    You should not need to buy buttons if you have your spare one and therefore it’s just wasteful 😛 (not the point you were making I know). And I was thinking the same about Woolworths, but in relation to fabric dyes. Such an odd thing to think of, but handy when you have a well-loved item of black clothing which is looking more grey. Now I will have to go into town to John Lewis and pay over the odds for it. And buttons. And thread to sew the buttons on come to think of it (supermarkets are fine if you want black, or white, but I have a bright pink cardi that has been sorely neglegted).

    January 7, 2009
  3. Ian's Mum said:

    Hi K and Gordon of course,

    This is spooky, my button box was my Gran’s but is a Quality Street box that I bought for her in Woolworths 50, more than I care to mention, years ago!

    January 7, 2009
  4. K said:

    Hi Ian’s Mum (and yes, hi Gordon, sorry for hijacking your comments box!),

    I love tins like that! My mum still has my gran’s button box which is an old shortbread tin, must be about 60 or so years old now. If I can’t ‘borrow’ it to be my button box, i will consider buying one from an antiques shop or something. Somehow a plastic Roses box doesn’t cut it!

    January 7, 2009
  5. Blue Witch said:

    I have a button bowl that sits on a glass shelf near a window. It looks really pretty. It’s very inviting and tactile. Visitors’ hands are often to be found just shuffling through it.

    All buttons get cut off labels when we buy clothing (for the reasons K mentions) or off used clothing before we reuse or recycle it.

    I suspect I am in a huge minority for people my age or less though.

    Do Primark give spare buttons on their clothing?

    January 7, 2009
  6. Gordon said:

    Yeah they give spare buttons. Although, like K, when I do take them off I invariably lose them or forget and get shiny circles on my shirts.

    My Mum’s button box was an old metal biscuit tin (pale blue?). With a golden knob on the top. Ahhh memories indeed.

    January 7, 2009
  7. mum said:

    If you had been wearing the M&s shirt I gave you for your Xmas the button wouldn’t have broken. As you are now going to buy another shirt from Primark you will probably encounter this problem again – if so I do indeed have a button box – 2 in fact, I for ‘white/shirt’ and 1 for ‘coloured’ (if only the rest of my life was so organised) Sad to say your memory is showing signs of fuzzing – that box was your Gran’s not mine. Don’t worry it’s just your age………

    January 7, 2009
  8. K said:

    Btw, nice White Stripes reference 🙂

    January 7, 2009

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