Buttons of Love

I teach for Shirley Sinclair at a wonderful shop called ‘Bustle and Bows’.  Last November, her son Brett (38), was killed in a tragic accident.  While minding the shop for a few weeks, I had a customer come in for advice on a project for her sister’s 6oth birthday.  She had asked all of her sister’s friends to give her a word which described her sister and a button which represented her.  She came to ask advice on how to put the project together because she couldn’t sew.  She called the project ‘Buttons of Love’.

I thought this was a wonderful idea.  The students who come to the classes and stitching groups at the shop and the regular customers who visit the shop were devastated to hear of Shirley’s loss. I wanted a project that would allow everyone to express their sympathy and love to Shirley and her daughter Rachel.  ‘Buttons of Love’ was the perfect project.

I set up a piece of antique linen and embroidered part of the reading from Brett’s funeral on the outside edge and ‘Buttons of Love’ in the centre and asked everyone to bring in a button to add to the piece.  This was the perfect request to embroiderers who all have a ‘button stash’!  I had no idea how many buttons I would get or what type of buttons or how I would put them together.  I finished the piece today and will take it to the framers next week.  Here is the result:


Many buttons came with stories and little notes to explain their significance.  Brett had loved drawing birds and insects so many depicted this love. I stitched on a needle and threadwinder to represent Shirley and Brett’s father added a little red car (a love they shared).  Many were precious buttons from grandmothers and great grandmothers.  Judy gave ‘Bashful’ - that last dwarf button from her childhood dressing gown.




I think this is a wonderful project that could be used to celebrate significant birthdays, weddings and wedding anniversaries or just as a wonderful way to display a beautiful button collection - rather than having them sitting in a box. I am now thinking of designing a project that could be used for displaying a button collection.  I’m looking for a verse about buttons that I could use around the outside edge.  Does anyone have a suggestion?

7 Comments so far

  1. Yvette Stanton on May 10th, 2010

    Hi Jan,

    This is just beautiful, and such a lovely way to remember Shirley’s son. Unfortunately this is the first I have heard of his death. Shirley and Rachel are both so lovely, and I’m sure this hit them very hard. Thanks to you and all the contributors for making this lovely keepsake for them.


  2. Pat Monteith on May 11th, 2010

    I only met Shirley once but remember her kindness when I was there last year to take classes with you. I’m so sorry to hear about her son. I can’t think of anything worse than losing a child. Please pass on my condolences. The buttons are a wonderful idea.
    I hope to see you in October, I hope

  3. Jean Aleshire on May 16th, 2010

    A wonderful way to share with a friend how you feel about her loss. She will have it forever. It is just lovely.

  4. John'aLee Burk on May 18th, 2010

    What a touching story. I am so sorry for her loss, but am happy that she has you in her life to make the sun shine on those dreary gray days that I am sure will come so often for her while she continues to grieve.

  5. katherine on May 19th, 2010

    While I have just stumbled agross this while searching for some stumpwork ideas, I have to commend you on your idea and finished project. It will provide a stitched memory of their son and remind them also that so many people love them and wish to help them.

  6. Lesley on September 5th, 2010

    What an absolutely beautiful and touching tribute Jan. I am so sorry for her loss, but I hope that your stitchery and the thoughts and prayers contained within it bring her some peace in the days and weeks ahead.

  7. Stitches on April 27th, 2011

    A very meaningful memorial for a special person. It will be a piece to treasure, I’m sure. Wonderful idea.