Dorset buttons are handmade from fabric, embroidery floss or yarn, wrapped around a round-shaped base. There are four different types of Dorset Buttons with many variations within each type.
The first buttons were made with sheep’s horn, fabric and thread (High Tops and Dorset Knobs)
Some used just fabric and thread (Birdseyes and Mites)
Wire rings were introduced in the 1730s and two further types of buttons were added to the range:
Those were made with wire, fabric and thread (Singletons)
The Dorset thread button used wire and thread (Dorset Cartwheel and Blandford Crosswheel)
Rings and threads
I am constantly asked which thread to use with which rings. I am always reluctant to give a definitive answer as this is up to the individual buttoner and their preferences. However, my individual preferences are to use a #20 weight thread when using a 19mm ring. If using one of the much finer hand-made 0.8mm thickness rings I find anything from a #60 or #70 weight gives a lovely finish.
The original linen thread was around #70 to #80 weight and I'm currently trying to find a fine linen thread to try my hand at emulating the original buttons.
I have worked buttons using a two ply Alpaca wool on a 32mm hollow brass ring which was delicious!
You may be a beginner and want to learn how to make a Dorset thread button or already know how to make Dorset Buttons but want to extend your skills. Why not try your hand at making other traditional buttons such as High Tops, Dorset Knobs, Birdseyes or Singleton buttons. You can extend your skills to contemporary patterns such as the daisy and spiral patterns or bouquet and tree buttons as well as the using beads in buttons.
My workshops can be designed to your own individual interests. I can take upto four people.
I run workshops for beginners to advanced Dorset Buttoners. Many of my workshops include having fun with threads, designs and different rings. Please contact me if you would like to organise a workshop for your own club, Guild or organisation.
For those of you who are unable make any of my workshops organised by groups I can now offer you the opportunity to join me in my studio in Donhead St Mary, near Shaftesbury, Dorset.
To arrange a date and time please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org