Sunday, 7 August 2011

My Grandmother's Button Collection

My Grandmother, my Oma, was a seamstress. She made wedding dresses and party frocks for people. Before she emigrated to Australia from the Netherlands, she and my grandfather (Opa) had a factory making men's suits and during the occupation of Holland in the second world war they were forced to make German Uniforms.

She taught me how to sew. I remember as child being allowed to play in her sewing room, with scraps of sumptuous evening fabrics, satin, velvet and lace. She had a huge stack of pattern books which we browsed avidly for hours, choosing our favorite outfits to make for our dolls. She made me bathers when, as a gangly teenager, I was too skinny to buy ones that fit; my first grown up winter coat and my dress for my debut. She taught my father to sew and he hemmed the yards of full skirts and petticoat of my wedding dress.

When she died, I inherited some of her button collection. For a long time, they just rattled around in my button tin as they were mainly one off unusual or antique buttons and so not often suitable for anything I needed a button for.

Then I found a pattern for a necklace made of buttons, using a combination of crochet and macrame. The pattern comes from the January / February 1998 Edition of Australian Women's Weekly Handmade Magazine (Volume 14, No. 1). It was designed Fay Martin who I ran into on a Victorian Crochet Guild stall at a craft market a few years later. The materials used are a DMC No. 20 crochet cotton in khaki and a 2 mm crochet hook and of course a selection of my Grandmother's buttons. The buttons are wooden, bone, shell, copper, melamine, casein and modern plastic. This was summer project, made in the caravan by the beach.

The original necklace from Handmade

Every time I wear this, I remember Oma. Its not just jewelry, its a string of living memories.

(Thanks to my eldest daughter for her photography and editing skills - she put together the montage).



  1. Very cool necklace Jo! It's really creative.

  2. Love it!!!! Where can I get the pattern?

  3. Ficou lindo! Sua avó deve estar feliz, onde quer que esteja!

  4. hi I am wondering if you would be willing to mail the instructions for this necklace. I can see part of the instructions but sure would love to clearly see all as I want to make a necklace like in memory of my dear puzzle making friend who passed this year

  5. Hello, you are one of the lucky people who had a grandmother to love you and share with you. I had a grandmother too. She taught me how to sew and knit. She always had plants growing on the kitchen window sill. She grew them from the seeds and cuttings of the foods she cooked. She planted a love of hand crafts and all things growing. All children need grandmothers to pass on the pleasure of creating and loving.


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