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Among the more extreme examples were “habitat” buttons, built to contain keepsakes like dried flowers, hair cuttings or tiny insects under glass.Hollowed-out smuggler buttons allowed thieves to transport jewels and other booty secretly.But, on both men’s clothes and women’s, buttons helped accentuate lovely lines, of the arm, say, or the bosom.Buttons came in all shapes and sizes, but most often they were mounted on a shank; you ran thread through the shank’s hole to attach the button to fabric.
This didn’t mean clothes were cut more sparingly; wealthy people still liked the costly display of excess fabric.
You heated up the mold in a bed of hot coals, then filled it with molten lead or pewter, which set into a button shape.
The sturdy metal buttons could then be covered with fabric or other embellishments.
Along with ribbons, laces or bows, buttons were often used on detachable sleeves, a fad that ran from the 13th to 15th centuries.
These sleeves could be easily swapped between outfits and laundered whenever they got dirty.