Monday, April 11, 2011

Dorset Buttons

When you're making a one-of-a-kind garment -- handknitted, handwoven, crocheted, felted, whatever -- it's often hard to find just the perfect button. You want the right color, fiber, size, even weight (lightweight is best). So the technique of making Dorset Buttons comes in handy.

They were created by the hundreds of thousands in early 19th-century Dorset, England. You start with a hoop -- nowadays, those plastic loops will do, available at Joann's Etc. and probably anywhere you can buy sewing notions. Using a tapestry needle, you wrap yarn around the loop with half hitches. Next you create eight "spokes" all around the outside of the loop, then you wrap them all together in the center. Then you weave around the spokes, again with half hitches.

This is an illustration, from the book, 50 Heirloom Buttons to Make, by Nancy Nehring:

Here's a closeup:

And here's what the back looks like:

The color variations are endless, which is why they work so well for garments. And you can even vary the stitches, the "weave" direction, the space between the yarns (leaving the "spokes" open like a wheel).

For an excellent source on making Dorset buttons, click here:

1 comment:

Pauline said...

Hi, I love making these buttons too. It's the colour combinations that really attract me to them. Yours are very pretty. I don;t use mine for clothing though, I've made keyrings and also scissor keepers. Theu're uses are endless, even Christmas tree decs would be good !!

Notes from CNCH, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

  Let's start with the photo above: a series of samples woven on eight shafts in deflected doubleweave by Marta Shannon. It's just o...