I’m always on the search for wonderful vintage buttons – vintage garments have often lost them or might have had them replaced by “wrong” versions over the years so where ever possible, I like to restore them with the sort of button they would have had originally. They can make a such a difference to something plain as well.
Circa has thousands – all sorted into every conceivable colour, material and type (shanked, two hole, four hole or other) and grouped in little zip lock bags. It doesn’t seem to matter how many we have though, we don’t always have the “right” one so we need button specialists as a back up.
Thankfully, there is a small and dedicated group of ladies around who cater to just this need, whilst indulging in their own fascinating hobby. We get asked a lot about who we recommend, so here are the main ones we use:
Habadash, 8 Templeton Street Castlemaine – well worth a trip to the country and this treasure trove of buttons, sewing ephemera, vintage jewellery and linens and other goodies. I can’t go into Sonia Collard’s beautiful shop without wanting to buy something so it’s lucky that she has no shortage of fabulous trinkets at reasonable prices.
Here is some of her amazing bakelite button collection – they look like lollies, don’t you think?
In Melbourne’s Nicholas Building (corner of Swanston and Flinders Lane) you’ll find Buttonmania – Kate Boulton has the largest range of new as well as vintage buttons and conducts workshops and regular sales (a good time to stock up). I love her set of small drawers, where many of the goodies are kept:
Photo: Estelle Judah from The Age.
I also go to see Miranda at Chapel street Bazaar (217 Chapel Street, Prahran) – she has one of the best collections of vintage haberdashery all at market prices – as well as regular half price sales. My favourites; gorgeous french jet buttons from the 1940s.
Speaking of markets, there’s a wonderful lady at Camberwell market on Sunday mornings – especially good for large plastic buttons from the 1950s, and buttons in quantities. I think all of hers are brand new, unused old stock, like Miranda’s.
Of course eBay is a wonderful resource too – although I must admit to preferring to be able to touch them, see how they look up against my fabric and inspect them for small damages – as well as use them immediately!
You can find vintage buttons every where that old things are – my last two favourite sources are op shops, where lucky customers might pick up an old tin or jar containing an old lady’s collection going back many years, and vintage fashion fairs like The Way We Wear Fair and Sydney’s Love Vintage Fair.
Vintage buttons come in all manner of materials, many of which the modern appreciator might not be familiar with – a handy guide to testing buttons to determine their material can be found here.