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A year and a half ago, Casper lost Hancock Fabrics. This was not a welcome change in our retail horizon. Yes, we have Walmart and Hobby Lobby with some fabrics, and notions. A few quilting stores offer fare for passionate quilters. None of these places are the real deal for me when it comes to finding a full sewer’s menu.

My sewing escapades are less frequent and less involved than they used to be, but when I attempt a creative binge, or most recently, need to replace a missing button, I like to find what I need. Last fall my aunt gave me a nice dress coat that she hadn’t used since her retirement. With two buttons missing, the one hidden extra wouldn’t cover the loss. Even if I used a sneaky button trick and moved the under-collar one down, I still needed something similar to sew back in that spot. Most likely I needed six matching buttons.

My first instinct was to look in my own stash. I don’t supposed I’ve ever thrown a button away. Usually they come on a card with a few leftovers, therefore a colorful excess evolves into a cacophony of colors and shapes. Even when Tom’s work shirts wear out, I cut off the buttons to use for replacing missing ones that will surely surface in my mending basket later.

I actually have three button boxes of my own and a jar from Gramma Best. I’ve had two red Tupperwares with segmented removable compartments since the late 70s. I snagged a fishing lure box from the garage when the burgeoning collection demanded more room. The buttons are carefully categorized by color, shapes (flat or multidimensional) and size. Some are metal, others wood, a few vintage glass buttons, and of course the multitude of plastic ones.

When my home-based button search was unsuccessful, I ran next door where Lois dug out hers. Actually, her containers are as interesting as the buttons when you think of how perfectly old-timey greeting card boxes doubled duty and lasted a lifetime. Though we found nothing for my project, she did donate a bunch of nice ones as well as fabric to the pillowcase dress project my friends sew for. My trip was a win-win for her and the dress project at least!

As for me, I was on to Walmart where buttons hung on cards, or sat in bags of 150, randomly sized in coordinating colors. Nothing even close to the type or hue I was needing. No luck at Hobby Lobby either. Their carousel of button cards was a bit more interesting with some trendy specialty buttons, not made for coats. Quilting stores are even more curious, but equally lacking. I was entranced with a huge candy jar of buttons sold by scoop like nails at a hardware store. Their corner wall display held darling buttons of cute little duckies, stars, rainbows, cupcakes and numerous other whimsical figures, tempting my imagination. Nothing for coats.

Alas, I pulled myself away with no cutesie purchase to feed my then drooling creative juices. I just went home and hung the coat with the missing buttons back in the closet. My next look will be a road trip to Sheila’s fabrics in Douglas, then maybe Ft. Collins when I visit our daughter next. Yes, yes. I realize I can find anything online, but my quest for coat buttons has now morphed into something beyond the original glossy plastic (which can’t be found nearby anyway) to something spectacularly unique, perhaps mother of pearl, or amazing bubinga wood.

Maybe I should just go all out and have Tom or Betsy hammer out some custom forged Celtic knots or intricate flower-of-life designs — like that would happen before I die. I’m still waiting for the kitchen cupboard handles they promised in 2011. Sometime after that project had been delayed indefinitely, Tom surprised me with my own little anvil. Maybe I should pull it out, fire up his forge and pound out my own buttons. I mean, who knows, maybe I’ll become Betsy’s metal artist protégé.

Little did I know, as a child playing “button, button, who’s got the button?” at birthday parties, that I would play the real “whose got the button” just trying to fix a very nice coat many decades later. By the way, anyone need the buttons I remove? They are yours.

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