Tuesday, 19 January 2016

How to make a Dorset Button

I have wanted to learn the art of Dorset button making  for some time.  A two hour workshop at my local Embroiderers' Guild cropped up, and was a perfect excuse to chat with my sewing chums and learn!  A collection of stunning vintage pieces and a copy of Stitch magazine provided inspiration for our first Dorset Button.



So I started my first ever Dorset Button. Any ring made of plastic, bone or metal will do the job perfectly. Perle cotton number 8 thread, a tapestry needle, a brass ring and blanket stitch. This stage was called 'Casting'.  I found out that the thread needs to be longer than you think - enough to finish the whole project. I was recommended 3 arm lengths of thread which was ample for a medium to large size ring.

Blanket Stitch - Casting
Next came 'Slicking'. The ridge formed by the blanket stitch was turned to the centre of the ring, making a smooth edge to the ring ready for the next stage.

Turning edge to centre - Slicking
'Laying' was next. The thread was wound around the ring like spokes in a wheel. The number of spokes and their position on the ring can vary depending upon the pattern being created. I was making a Dorset Crosswheel so I only needed 8 spokes. I centred the spokes with two cross stitches before moving onto Rounding.

Making spokes - Laying

Cross-stitch in centre of spokes, ties them together
'Rounding' was the final stage.  Working from the back of the button, the thread was wound around the spokes in a kind of backstitch effect. This made the 'ridges' on the button front.

Using a backstitch around spokes - Rounding
Button Front
It was a very therapeutic morning of sewing.  I went home and made a few more before the day was over - it's quite addictive. Dorset buttons are brilliant for embroiderers. Each button has a fabulous textured surface that's a perfect background just waiting for more decorative stitching.

These are some of the pieces made over the weekend of the workshop. They include a few rings that have been Casted and are awaiting the next stage - when I can decide what design to settle on !


I hope this has inspired you to take a look at Dorset buttons and have a go making one. For more information on Dorset Buttons, check out the Gold Hill Museum in Dorset where the famous Hovis Hill is and a collection of original vintage Dorset Buttons can be found.

2 comments:

  1. A friend introduced me to Dorset buttons several years and I loved making them from the start. As you say, it is therapeutic stitching. Your first attempt is excellent!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Bossymamma, I keep wondering why I didn't learn to make them sooner! :)

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