Dorset buttons are thread covered buttons created with embroidery stitches. These buttons became well known in the county of Dorset, England, in the UK. I participate in an annual button challenge and decided that, this year, I would give handmade buttons. But what kind? I have lots of different embroidery threads, so after some research I decided to learn how to make Dorset buttons. So easy to customize the buttons with thread choices!
When were Dorset Buttons invented?
The Dorset button industry, also called Buttony, began in the seventeenth century. At the time, buttons were a status symbol and thousands of people made good livings producing buttons in the cottage industry. It was a popular source of income among the rural poor; a good Buttoner made between six and seven dozen buttons a day and could earn up to 3 shillings, more than they could make from field work. (After making a few buttons of my own, I can’t imagine producing 72 buttons a day!)
Unfortunately, all this ended abruptly in 1851 when someone invented a button making machine. The industry collapsed and thousands of Buttoners suddenly lost their income. Many families then made the difficult decision to emigrate to America and Australia.
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What are dorset buttons used for?
Dorset buttons can be used where ever you might use any button. They are terrific on clothing and garments, but add great visual interest to home dec projects, including upholstery and pillows. Try making your own Dorset buttons for accents on crazy quilts, or add to a barrette or head band for an accessory. So many great ideas for using Dorset buttons!
How do you get evenly spaced spokes when you make Dorset Buttons?
Evenly spaced spokes is one of the challenges in making Dorset buttons. I like to use a registration guide to make sure that my spokes are straight and evenly spaced. We’ve put together a Dorset Button Registration Guide FREE downloadable pdf to help you make beautiful Dorset Buttons.
What thread should you use to make dorset buttons?
I used perle cotton in the how to make dorset button tutorial, but you can use any type of thread or yarn, depending on the look you want. a thicker yarn will make a chunkier button, and thinner thread would make a very fine button.
How do you make a beaded dorset button?
To make a beaded dorset button, make your button according to the above tutorial. Add beads as embellishments to the button with beading thread to the finished button. Here is an example of a beaded dorset button
With so much potential for customizing the look, Dorset buttons will make even an ordinary garment special. I used metallic threads to make buttons for my bling-friendly pals. These buttons sport mother of pearl beads stitched onto the spokes. You can add beads in any arrangement you choose – just a few or really bead-dazzle them!
Below is a button I made with a 1-inch metal ring and 3 strands of variegated cotton embroidery floss. First, I covered the ring with buttonhole stitches. Then I wrapped 8 spokes and joined them in the center where a spider wheel stitch, a circular variation of a backstitch, begins. (Wrapping and centering takes some practice. You can draw a template or download our templates to use – they help a lot! The spider wheel stitch continues until the center of the ring is filled. Then weave the thread end into the stitches for a clean finish.
Here is my assortment of buttons made in several sizes and from various fibers. The button at the upper right-hand corner formed a square inside the circle by backstitching alternate spokes.
How do you attach Dorset Buttons to your garment or item?
Stitch the buttons directly onto a garment, or add a small ring or thread shank to the button’s back.
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