Bitch on the Blog

February 8, 2013

Buttoned up

Filed under: Philosophy — bitchontheblog @ 19:24
Tags: , , , , , , ,

What would you rather be? A button or a zip? Don’t answer this question in haste. There are considerations to be made.

Buttons will fall off. Never to be found again.

Zips may be faster to do up than buttons. They also are notoriously unreliable. For more reasons than the first that may come to your mind. What comes to your mind depends on who you are.

Unless you are a dressmaker or a taylor you are unlikely to ever have stitched a zip. Yet even the most inept will have tried, at some point in their lives – say, post childhood and pre marriage and after your mother has died and before joining the Navy – to sew on a button. There is more to sewing on a button than meets the uninitiated eye. Take it from me. I know. I even learnt (age 10) how to make button HOLES. Button holes that have stood the test of time. Reinforced. Yes, two hours a week. Wednesday afternoons. If ever I have known evil in a woman it was that terrible teacher. She was huge with a matronly bosom to match and marked me down as “Ursula is too ambitious”. Talk about motivating your pupils. Luckily, in an emergency, I know how to hold my tongue. To this day I do have a particularly intricate  piece I made then – a thing of beauty – and when I happen upon it I do hold my finger up to her. No, not really. In those days fingers were for needle work – not to be held up.

Other than that buttons are – unlike zips – like rabbits. You will accumulate them. Whether you like it or not. Spares will come with every suit. And will be with you long after that piece of clothing has hit landfill, recycling or the charity shop. On top of which – health warning: this is getting confessional – I can’t help myself cutting buttons off garments before discarding the bit they were attached to. There is something eternal about buttons. Unlike zips. Which either work or they don’t.



  1. This is right up my alley. I have a more-than-lifetime supply of buttons I’ve cut off discarded clothes. I get that fabric off, cut & dug out all the old thread. The buttons go into a box never to see the light of day again.

    Don’t get me going on zippers. I have a vast supply & I don’t replace zippers anymore. BTW Never buy luggage with a zipper. I once saw a jacket with a HUGE toothed zipper that’d last 200 years. The manufacturer never made that mistake again.

    Comment by bikehikebabe66 — February 8, 2013 @ 20:15 | Reply

    • Cynthia, you wouldn’t believe what people do with buttons – other than hoard them. A couple of neighbours of mine do all sorts of arty farty stuff – not least with buttons. So, my collection went to a good home. Who on earth buys what they do is beyond me (admittedly, some of it is rather witty).

      And, I once knew a woman (no, not Miss Marple) who crocheted a hat for her spare toilet paper roll on display (this can only happen in England – such modesty). Think tea cosy. Having said that, at a time when I (misguidedly) thought the work of my own little fair hands was valued, I once knitted lovely little hats for my family to keep their boiled eggs warm. AHHHH. Each one different – to suit the temperament of the eggbasher. Eventually my parents replaced them with those ghastly brightly coloured plastic concoctions lined with styropor. I ask you: That’s not style. That’s function over beauty. Anyway, that was after my time. As it is the tradition lives on in all my siblings’ homes. Unfortunately you are not asked whether you even want an egg. But that’s another – rather good – story.

      Now go and find yourself an arts and crafts market and donate your five kilos worth of a life time’s buttons to someone who will appreciate them, particularly the – what were they called – Tortoise shell? Highly prized at one time.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 9, 2013 @ 15:17 | Reply

  2. “Buttoned up Bitch on the Blog” was indeed a remarkable blog.
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    be quite possibly better. Regards ,Nelly

    Comment by — February 9, 2013 @ 09:26 | Reply

  3. I have sold all kinds of haberdashery items in my younger days and can talk in favour of either. My tailoring skills though rusty must still be good enough to attach either. I can only suggest that usually and will be a better choice than either or.

    Comment by rummuser — February 9, 2013 @ 13:51 | Reply

    • Please don’t do to me what I do to others, Ramana: Like confusing me – with your last sentence which I rather like.

      One advantage of your culture – as I understand it – that grown men can walk around with neither button, zip or studs anywhere to seen. Yes, my father too dreams of the comfort of a Kaftan.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 9, 2013 @ 15:30 | Reply

  4. I’d much rather be a button. Zippers are jagged and finicky. Buttons are not always, but most often, smooth–things that when popped from the garment can be fondled and handled and turned over again and again without risk of injury. Buttons come in all manner of shapes, sizes and colors and can be put nearly anywhere. Some are fancy, some are plain–all make some kind of statement, but only if one cares to notice. Zippers are utilitarian; buttons are , too, but can be frivolous.

    I have never in my life given so much thought to buttons. 🙂

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — February 9, 2013 @ 15:10 | Reply

    • Well here’s another thought on buttons. There’s the little white buttons cut off of the men’s dress shirts that they wore long ago. My cousin sewed them on, overlapping in a large random shaped pile, on a shirt. Very clever. Very attractive too.

      I have a collection of really large buttons that I could fondle in the secrecy of my pocket. They might even turn me on.

      Comment by bikehikebabe66 — February 9, 2013 @ 16:32 | Reply

      • Lorna, Cynthia, I can tell: You are both tactile, indeed sensuous. What am I this minute? Measuring the cloth, that’s what. Figuratively speaking.


        Comment by bitchontheblog — February 10, 2013 @ 17:09 | Reply

        • You’ve grabbed me again. My computer/sewing room is lined with cabinets filled with fabric that I measured length, width & fiber content, waiting to be made into clothes. I’m through with sewing.
          Why not when it’s so cheap done in China/Korea/India.

          Comment by bikehikebabe66 — February 10, 2013 @ 19:24 | Reply

  5. With a tin full of buttons, I still fail to have the right one whenever I need it. I’m going with the dependable zipper. Even it fails, it still maintains its parts.

    Comment by writingfeemail — February 10, 2013 @ 23:41 | Reply

  6. Funny, I have no trouble at all sewing on buttons. Darning is a bit more hit and miss though.

    Buttons are definitely more romantic than zips. Slowly unbuttoning a blouse beats a functional unzipping any day….

    Comment by Nick — February 13, 2013 @ 17:23 | Reply

  7. […] Buttoned up ( […]

    Pingback by That only took about an hour. « The Gaia Chronicles — February 17, 2013 @ 19:36 | Reply

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