Dorsetbuttonsblog_large

Thread wound Dorset buttons date back to the mid-18h century when dorset button making was a booming cottage industry for families, prison inmates and orphans throughout southern England. John Ashton’s button machine put the whole lot of them out of work in 1851 but the machine-made button still has nothing on these beauties!

Dorset buttons are easy to make and they add a ton of old school flair to your winter coats, vests, dresses and blouses. Here’s how you do it:

1. Start with a ring the size of your desired button. Many places recommend plastic bone rings. I have no idea what a bone ring is, so I just took some wire, wrapped it around a 1" diameter pipe a couple times and called it good. Your mileage may vary.

2. Pick out what thread you’re going to use. I chose a mercerized perle cotton in black. You could also use yarn or regular embroidery floss – it all depends on the scale of your button. I wanted to fill mine in relatively quickly, so I used a heavier thread.

3. Hold the tail of the thread along the ring and begin wrapping the ring in blanket stitches. (Note: You may recognize this technique from friendship bracelet making, if you’re a dork like me!) When you get near the end of the ring, wrap the tail of the thread along with the ring to secure the beginning of your work.

4. Done? Ok, now push the ridge formed by the blanket stitches in towards the center of the ring. Leave your needle threaded.

5. Wrap the thread, now pointing in towards the center of the ring, around the bottom of the button. Continue wrapping around the ring, turning the ring a quarter turn each time, until you’ve wrapped a total of 4 times, forming 8 spokes. The spokes will look a little wonky at first, especially on the back – that’s OK. You’re going to gather them in the center in the next step.

6. Make a little stitch in the center to gather all the spokes together in the center. Wrap it in several places if need be – just get those spokes all to meet in the center of the ring.

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7. Once you have a nice looking set of spokes, you get to start wrapping the individual spokes. If you have ever make a God’s Eye, you already know how to do this. Basically, start by passing the needle to the right of the first spoke you intend to wrap. Now, bring the needle back up on the left. Move on to the next spoke on the right, working clockwise. Pass the needle on the right, bring it back up on the left – keep going until you’ve filled up the whole button!

8. When you’re done, bury your thread in one of the spokes and cut the tail off. Attach the button to your garment by making a couple stitches through the center of the button.

Enjoy!

61 Comments

  • Thb_whiteshoes_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 06.24 PMby loversandhaters

    Oh my god, I love these!

  • Gold_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 03.48 PMby hstorm799

    Fantastic How-to! I love these.

    1 Reply
  • Borsa_gatto_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 03.06 PMby robygiup

    Thanks for the explanation! I like this kind of buttons!

    I’ll try to make one! :D

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 08.34 PMby eringilday

      Sweet! I’d love to see what you make from it!

  • Long_blue_skirt_headshot_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 03.00 PMby nyphertiti

    oooooh, so pretty! I love this project. I’ll definitely be linking to your post in the New Year from my blog! ( http://etcetorize.blogspot.com )

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 08.33 PMby eringilday

      Link away! Thanks for reading, Nyphertiti!

  • Monjio-1_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 02.53 PMby Monjio

    Very nice, thanks for sharing!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 08.33 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome, Monjlo!

  • Old_fashion_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 04.35 AMby sewlikeabee6

    Hi, eringilday those are really pretty buttons thanks for putting them up, How about the stripped dress it is so pretty, I love old fashion styles. I also like the white dress. I bet they wished that a different style would come out they did not have the choices we have , I do not like alot of fashions , but we can change ours we are lucky.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 08.33 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome, Bee! Its true – women had fewer choices and the few choices they did have were more heavily dictated by fashion. But wow! That dress is awesome, right?

  • 5143207572_d97b027cf8_t_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 03.49 AMby slowe55

    the “vintage in detail” series is a knockout so far, please keep them coming!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 08.18 PMby eringilday

      Aw shucks, Slowe – thanks! Next week: Scallops!

  • 767492c17098a5c0a7691bf311e10432b5f83cad_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 03.13 AMby mrsjoker

    These are great. I will try this for my historical reenactment clothing. Something to do with all that old embroidery thread

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 08.16 PMby eringilday

      Glad you liked the post! I LOVE historical reenactment stuff and it would be great to see what you do with Dorset buttons. Don’t forget to take pictures and show me! =)

  • Missing

    Dec 23, 2010, 03.05 AMby dixbailey

    These are gorgeous, I have never seen them before and will definitely have a go at making thames, thanks for the tutorial!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 24, 2010, 12.49 AMby eringilday

      You’re welcome!! Enjoy!

  • Missing

    Dec 23, 2010, 12.54 AMby kemi adeyele

    This is so nice, although my first time of seeing such, it looks a little tricky for me but i will give it a trial

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 12.59 AMby eringilday

      I would love to see what you end up doing with it, Kemi! Thanks for reading.

  • Missing

    Dec 22, 2010, 10.04 PMby gallivant

    Ooh, thank you! Just the other day over in the Holiday Giveaway I asked to see more vintage techniques, and here’s a beautiful one!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 12.53 AMby eringilday

      Awesome! Good luck with the giveaways – I think your chances are pretty good – better than Keno here in Oregon, that’s for sure. (I’m going bowling tonight so my mind is on. the. KENO! Wish me luck!)

  • 103111_amandadavis_large

    Dec 22, 2010, 09.31 PMby primandpropah

    I love learning new things for the ol’ Creative tool box. Thanks for another!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 10.03 PMby eringilday

      No problem! Enjoy!

  • 1014094_10152652215983709_1627797358_n_large

    Dec 22, 2010, 08.29 PMby mitmit

    Grand!! My grandmother taught me how to make buttons like yours, only much simpler. Thanks for the tutorial. It’ll come in handy, “rebooting” my memory! :-)

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 10.03 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome Mitmit. Simple is good! I would love to see your method. Thanks for reading!

  • Missing

    Dec 22, 2010, 07.22 PMby denise2003

    Beautiful! Thank you for the how-to.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 07.26 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome, Denise!

  • Orp_1769_large

    Dec 22, 2010, 07.07 PMby loyl8

    Thank you soooooo much for this!!!! Great post I love learning new things. Thanks again :)

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 07.08 PMby eringilday

      No problem, Loyl!! Glad you liked it!! =)

  • R1-16_large

    Dec 22, 2010, 05.54 PMby swankypot

    Great post – these buttons are mentioned a lot in the fiction novel “Burning Bright” by Tracy Chevalier.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 06.56 PMby eringilday

      Oh how cool! I’ve actually been wanting to compile a list of sewing oriented fiction. This helps! Hmmm…I feel another blog post coming on! Thanks, Swankypot!

  • Leather_bow_large

    Dec 22, 2010, 04.48 PMby Sewing And Style

    thank you, but i was really missing the picture, demonstrating how to do the centre of the button

    3 Replies
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 06.55 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome! I agree that a pic of how to bring the center together would help. I’ll try to see what I can do about that. In the meantime, I can try to explain better in words: basically, when you have the 8 spokes, bring the needle down in between the ring and spoke lying closest to the ring (furthest away from the center) and then bring the needle up through the opposite pie-shaped hole in between spokes and give a good yank. If things are still wonky, do that again until all of the spokes are behaving and aligning in the center. I think the word “stitch” in the original instructions might be confusing in this context….it’s more of a wrap than a stitch, really. Does that help, Nerja?

    • Leather_bow_large

      Dec 23, 2010, 11.40 AMby Sewing And Style

      That clears it a little, but I won’t know till I try)))) Well you befriended me , so I can always shout for help if I am stuck then , can’t I ? )))))))))))))))))))

    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 24, 2010, 12.53 AMby eringilday

      Of course!!!!!! Let me know if I can help. =)

  • 990745-073_large

    Dec 22, 2010, 03.59 PMby nehmah

    Thank you for the great pictures. I’ve done this on old curtain rings, and some wood “thingys” (probably also curtain rings or macrame rings) but it’s been quite a while. Cordially, Nehmah

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 22, 2010, 06.48 PMby eringilday

      Thanks, Nehmah! Great minds think alike – I definitely considering using wooden curtain rings! Mine are huge though and I thought it would take a looong time to fill in with yarn. Oh well.

    • This is a question
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