Celebrate and reinvent, the humble button

The Church denounced them as the “devil’s snare” when European ladies began wearing them on the front of their dresses. Napoleon introduced them to men’s jacket sleeves to prevent soldiers mutilating themselves when they tried to wipe their noses. They are ubiquitous, beautiful and practical and we have them en masse at Buttons @ Paddington.

I promise you, a visit to Buttons @ Paddington in the Paddington Antique Centre will reinvent you opinion of the humble, quirky, “dangerous” button. Forever.

One of the two owners of the buttons in the shop here at Buttons @ Paddington, confesses to having been a button tragic for decades. She said it started when she stumbled across a button in a museum in the UK about 25 years ago. She was stunned by the history of the beautiful little talismans of social history. Her first purchase was a set of 16 Victorian jet mourning buttons. Her passion now, she says, is for art deco buttons, but she also loves art nouveau silver buttons, satsumas and other enamelled ones, cute little plastic 1950s buttons and so it goes…

Set of 7 French Jet Buttons, $25

Set of 7 French Jet Buttons, $25

Victorian Black Glass Waistcoat Buttons. $6 each

Victorian Black Glass Waistcoat Buttons. $6 each

But buttons are not just beautiful, they also tell stories. Buttons in many ways tell the story of our civilisation. Originally used as decoration in the Bronze Age 3,000 years ago, it was many hundreds of years before their safety advantage saw them displace the pin as the fastener of choice.

An industry grew up around a growing practical demand for buttons, but it wasn’t long before the upper classes sought to reclaim them as  status symbols. Legend has it that King Francis I sported 13,600 buttons on his royal outfit for a meeting in 1520 with a similarly resplendent King Henry VIII of England.

The vanity associated with the most extravagant buttons has caused controversy over the years. Risqué buttons on ladies’ dresses in 16th Century Europe attracted the ire of the Church, which labelled them the “devil’s” snare. To this day, the Amish community does not wear buttons because they are seen as a sign of pride.

By contrast, buttons have sometimes also been associated with austerity and control. The most famous example of this is the black mourning buttons that dominated fashion for decades following the death of Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Albert.

During the last century, there was a dramatic fall in the importance of the button due to the emergence of mass-produced clothing and unforgiving modern washing machines and dryers, which required simple, easily-replaceable buttons. But if the interest in Buttons @ Paddington is anything to go by, buttons are well and truly back in vogue.

The diversity of antique, vintage, retro and modern buttons available in our shop provide a wonderful opportunity for us to make an individual statement either on our clothes, our jewellery, accessories or our collection.

You won’t have seen so many buttons have so much fun as you will at Buttons @ Paddington!


Guardian of the Buttons

I have been working at Buttons @ Paddington for about six weeks now and the question I get asked by customers, more than any other, is where do I get my buttons from?  I must tell you, I cannot claim ownership to the sensational collection of notions that we have in the shop. The amazing collection has two owners, both whose passion has seen them source buttons from all over the world. I am, you could say, Guardian of the Buttons. Custodian to the collection for three days a week, four hours a day. While Buttons @ Paddington is open 7 days a week 10am-5pm, I attend the shop on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11am-3pm. I am here to present new stock, set up displays  and keep you up to date on all things buttons via our Facebook pageand here at our blog. But most importantly, I am here to help customers find the perfect button, or piece of vintage haberdashery, for whatever project they may be working on, or assist them in finding a new little keepsake for their own button collection.

Before commencing work at Buttons @ Paddington, I knew buttons were pretty neat, “cute as” and fairly vital to many of the outfits I wear each day. However, I had no idea of the variety of designs and materials that the little fastener could come in. With a background in art and design, I had no problem seeing the extraordinary beauty in the stock that sat shimmering in the cabinets like little gems and jewels and it wasn’t long before I was coming up with my own great ideas focusing on the humble, and as I have discovered, not so humble button.

I have learnt so much already from you, our customers, about the history of buttons and about the different crafts that you do. I invite you to visit Buttons @ Paddington and have a look at our collection. Or, send me your ideas and fabulous button finds. Share with us your creations and I will happily share them here for everyone to enjoy. And in the meantime, I will share with you stories from Buttons @ Paddington.

Until next time,


Submit your projects via our Facebook page, or email to buttonsatpaddington@outlook.com

Lots of Buttons

Welcome to Buttons @ Paddington

Welcome to Buttons @ Paddington!

For those of you that don’t know us, Buttons @ Paddington is situated inside the popular Paddington Antique Centre in Brisbane, Queensland. We are home to 1000s of perfect buttons sourced from all over the world. Our collection includes antique, vintage finds dating back to the 1860s; and also new, modern designs.

Buttons @ Paddington is nestled in a cosy little corner of the centre. Our delightful shop is filled not just with buttons, but also antique and vintage haberdashery. Antique sewing machines, vintage fabrics, lace and trimmings, crocheting yarn, patterns and linen are just some of the items we carry. Our stock moves continuously with fabulous new finds, and our displays and collections are always changing.

Visit us at the shop and join us here online and on Facebook as we share a love of buttons. We invite you to share your craft and jewellery ideas, sewing and creative creations for everyone to enjoy.

Follow us and learn some interesting facts, see amazing creations, hear some fabulous stories from Buttons @ Paddington, or just keep an eye out for the perfect button.