Encrusted CQ class project

Encrusted CQ class project

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Thrift Store Score!

 Today I found a couple of bags of buttons for .50 each at my local thrift store.  I am always on the lookout for mother of pearl (shell) buttons, but they are harder and harder to find at reasonable prices.  The best source I have for these buttons is on Vancouver Island, at a bead store, and her price of .25 per button is excellent.  So when I saw that these bags had a couple of shell buttons, I knew it was worth the price, and that I would be able to use them in my vintage crazy quilt pieces.

I purchased them, and went home to sort.  I lay them on a facecloth to protect them from breakage and from rolling off the table.  Here you get an idea of how much was in a .50 baggie.  Click on the picture for an enlarged view.

I sorted into 4 piles - clean "keepers" - these are ready to use as is
                               - grubby "keepers" - these are dirty and/or have old thread still in them
                               - donate - the more ordinary plastic shirt buttons - I don't need these
                               - garbage - broken bits and pieces

All told, I spent $1. and got at least $50. worth of vintage buttons!  How do I find such a fabulous deal?  I have learned where to look, I check back often (at least weekly) and once or twice a year I hit the mother lode! 

And how do I clean the grubby buttons?  I try to remove the old thread first.  I cut the thread with scissors or a seam ripper, being careful not to pull against the button, which could crack it.  I soak them for about an hour in slightly warm water with a couple of squirts of liquid hand soap.  Remember, these are vintage and made from shells; they can be brittle so I want to use a mild soap, not a detergent.  Sometimes I add a bit of baking soda to the soak.  I remove the buttons to a fluffy towel and scrub them gently with the same water and an old toothbrush.  If they need further brightening, I sometimes use toothpaste (the white paste, not the blue gel).  I put the buttons in a strainer and rinse them in cool water, then lay out on a fresh towel or paper towel to dry.  Any last bits of old thread get removed before I store them in one of my button boxes.  

Here are some of the clean keepers.  LOVE the patina of vintage shell buttons!

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