A Dorset adventure

Actually, despite travel restrictions being eased, I am staying firmly at home, with any visits restricted to friends in the area. So, what have I been doing in Dorset? Well, nothing, actually, but I have made some of their buttons…

Dorset buttons are something that I’ve wanted to have a go at making for ages, so when I saw kits for sale I thought that would provide me with an ideal introduction. Making these buttons dates back to the early 1600s, and at its height their production constituted a cottage industry in Dorset, employing over 4000 people. When the technology was developed to make buttons by machine, the Dorset button industry was destroyed and the skill all but disappeared. However, it was not entirely lost.

Dorset buttons are made by weaving/stitching yarn onto ring. You begin by blanket-stitching around a metal ring, then make “spokes” across it before weaving your yarn in a spiral around these spokes. By back-stitching and stretching the yarn across more than one spoke, it’s possible to create all sorts of different patterns, like these :

These are my first attempts, and I’m rather pleased with how they came out. Never again will I be disappointed because I can’t find buttons to match an item I’ve knitted or crocheted.

The company I got my kit from is called Beaker Button. They make lovely kits including hand-dyed yarn, all packaged in reusable bags and with no plastic. IMGP8317

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23 Comments

  1. Well aren’t they lovely? Not that I’m short on buttons, I’ll have you know, having been given more than I could every use in my, or several of my lifetimes. Plus himself, making buttons & hooks/eyes if I need them. But I do rather like these, I have to say. Nicely made. 🙂

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  2. Wow, those really are beautiful! I know of a few embroidery-type people who’ve made them but I’ve never seen any quite as nice as yours 🙂

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  3. Wonderful! I’ve heard of Dorset buttons but I didn’t realise you could make so many different designs.

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  4. Love these! I just jumped over to the website, and fell in love with the Cherry blossom one.

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  5. Very pretty!

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  6. I’ve never seen them made with woolly yarn before, only with silky embroidery or perle-style cotton so they’re shiny. These are lovely, and I think they’re probably quicker because the wool yarn is thicker.

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    • Wool is so forgiving with things like this because of its stretch, so I think it’s an ideal beginners medium. I plan to progress on to using up my stash of embroidery threads once I’m a bit more confident.

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  7. I love making Dorset buttons and yours are lovely. You just need curtain rings and off you go. I have made mine into unique brooches and I just watched a You Tube in which they are used as mini dream catchers for cards etc. They are very addicitive.

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    • You are right about them being addictive. I’ve also bought a kit to make a brooch which incorporates beads, but I want to improve my technique before I embark on that.

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  8. They’re lovely – and as you identified the perfect solution to a difficult match. I intend to check out more about these. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. those are so lovely, and I want to make some now. Thank you for sharing the process and the finished items.

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  10. Those are lovely and I can see how you could make lots of variations. What a lovely idea and I think I might have a go!

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  11. And you could at a pinch use one with your “mending” cover a hole with something quite decorative! Maybe not where you sit or put a shoe on but if you had a “mend” where something like a button would look rather fetching…lost buttons from a shirt, no problems with.

    You’ll have to sort out making “frog closures” now 🙂

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