Sunday, 14 December 2014

Dorset Buttons

I've been enchanted by Dorset Buttons for some time.  A few years ago I bought a little booklet from the Goldhill Museum in Shaftesbury by Marion Howitt.  I've looked up the topic via google, and they are all more or less based on this booklet.  Its explanations are quite difficult to follow, but it a question of having a go, reading and rereading the instructions, and building up one's own techniques and skills.  I even bought a little kit at the time.  I've made buttons for a cushion.

At about this time of year I start to think of a little individual Christmas decoration to make, usually it is a small heart.  David put up the Christmas Tree yesterday, and in our box of bits and pieces out came examples from previous years that I had forgotten about.  It all started about 20 years ago when I bought some lovely decorated hearts from a colleague, when I hardly knew now to use a needle.

Reading one of Tracy Chevalier's wonderful novels called Burning Bright reminded me of the delightful little buttons.  In Georgian times people earned their living making these buttons, which were very popular.  This was an inspiration for the little decorative buttons on my hearts this year.

This year out came a piece of fabric which was part of a bunting pack of fabrics, just the right shade: pale blue, and with my silks, a few beads, and some brass rings, I have been fiddling of an evening.  It takes me an evening to make one button!  I suppose I could make a couple, but this is all around making the dinner, watching TV and chatting with hubby.

You should see the mess around me...pieces of fabric, rings, beads, beading needle, sharp short needle with large eye, and large blunt needle for the weaving part, scissors, and threads.  I started with a simple one a couple of weeks ago, which I sewed onto a heart, and into the stuffing, I put in a small piece of cloth impregnated with essential oils, to act as a room scenter, then later perhaps to scent a drawer or act as a moth repellent hanging from a coat hanger.   The first one was sent off to London with a pot of my cranberry relish as a little Christmas present to Vicki.

I have since changed the essential oil to that of rose geranium.  I have a small bottle which was bought years and years ago when we visited the Domaine de L'Ylang Ylang in Mauritius.  The essence is distilled on site, using the handpicked blooms.  Opening the little bottle reminded me of the wonderful day we had there walking around the plantation and watching the distillation process.  The views out to the sea in this quiet and green south east corner of the island are magical.

The first step is to cover the ring which I did with embroidery thread.

then for my second  button I decided to try using small beads.  The very long thin  beading needle  is thin enough to go through the smallest of my beads.

on a third button I used white thread for the outside and also beads, and used different stitches.

With a variety of buttons, I now have some hearts to finish off.

The most difficult one so far, and I shall try to work on my technique to get the centre 'centered', and the spokes a little more even, if that of the Lace Shirtwaister.  I could only make this after I had covered the ring with blanket stitch, as without this,  windings just slipped off the brass ring.


  1. They are very pretty Noelle, well done.

  2. Thanks Mandy, a nice way to spend a few hours.

  3. Such pretty little works of art.
    Heather :)