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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.


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.



  • 486043_10200326557759449_664517254_n_large

    Dec 31, 2010, 11.28 PMby heidilea

    Nifty! Catching up on blog posts. I’m an 18th century reenactor and I loooove old fashion thread buttons. One of my favorites is the death’s head button (not at all scary looking).

    1 Reply
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      Jan 13, 2011, 03.58 PMby eringilday

      O awesome – you probably already know I heart reenactors! I’ll have to check out the death’s head button. Grisly name, right?

  • Toothy_bear_large

    Dec 28, 2010, 08.23 PMby sherrieh

    These are FABULOUS. Is there any way we can save tutorials to our Burda accounts like we can patterns?

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 31, 2010, 06.05 PMby eringilday

      Hi Serrieh! I believe you can “favorite” them, but I don’t see a button for it! Does anyone else know more about how to do this?

  • Gres_headress_1957_large

    Dec 26, 2010, 11.01 PMby tasallison

    you can also make a brooch by embroidering french knots into the centre of the circle.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 27, 2010, 05.20 PMby eringilday

      Another good idea! Thanks =)

  • Gres_headress_1957_large

    Dec 26, 2010, 10.59 PMby tasallison

    Hi Burdastyle, Would you please please pretty please do an article on Tambour beading? I love looking at videos of famous fashion houses designing and creating tambour beaded garments.

    2 Replies
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 27, 2010, 05.19 PMby eringilday

      Ooo, I have no idea what this is…off to Google it! (P.S. Thanks so much for the request – I love to hear about what readers want!)

    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 28, 2010, 12.43 AMby eringilday

      Ok, looked it up and WOW. Now I know why you want to learn that so bad! Pssh…I have no idea how to do THAT. Bears further research, right?

  • Nach_mir___large

    Dec 26, 2010, 05.31 PMby tatomta

    This comment was deleted by the author.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 27, 2010, 05.18 PMby eringilday

      you’re welcome!

  • Copier_202_large

    Dec 26, 2010, 12.57 AMby craftymayhem

    Fantastic! Thank you! I’ve just changed button plans for several projects! So excited I need a few more exclamation points!!!!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 26, 2010, 04.07 PMby eringilday

      LOL. If anyone abuses the exclamation point, it’s me. (Quick double-check: There’s something deflating about a period. – or – There’s something deflating about a period!) I mean, there’s no contest there, right?

      Anyways, the point – heh, get it – is, exclaim away (!) I don’t mind. Can’t wait to see what you do with the buttons, Mayhem!

  • Velvet_and_rust_cd_492_large

    Dec 25, 2010, 08.53 AMby Carol Brown

    These pictures are gorgeous. Just love this article. GREAT tutorial!!! First time I have seen or read about Dorset button. Adore vintage embroidery, linens, etc. The mixed colored one are so fantastic, arty, brilliant and beautiful. Wonderful Article. Love to make some for use on mixed medium or Crazy quilting. LOVE to see some made into darling pins or brooches. EARRINGS ? Would love to check out more information and techniques for a beginner. Just found this WONDER-FILLED site and am so excited!!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 25, 2010, 05.10 PMby eringilday

      Welcome, Carol!! I love your ideas for Dorset buttons – I can see one on an art quilt now! I actually have seen them made into earrings (I think?) – dangly tiered ones. VERY neat. Thanks for reading and Happy Holiadys!

  • Missing

    Dec 24, 2010, 11.18 PMby Laura Hill

    Lovely tutorial—my grandmother’s people came from Poland, and spent a bit of time in England on the way over to the US, and she used these buttons on each of her sweaters she knitted “English-style” as well. Amazing how craft and women’s ingenuity travel the world!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 25, 2010, 05.08 PMby eringilday

      Oh wow, that is fantastic, Laura! What a piece of history. I love to see how women’s ingenuity travels the world. =)

  • 20150117_152733_large

    Dec 23, 2010, 11.21 PMby mlssfshn

    Great post! Next Chinese Knots!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 24, 2010, 12.52 AMby eringilday

      Thanks!! Which type of chinese knots?? Do you mean frogs?? Or those knots you can put on zipper pulls? Those would both make awesome posts…thanks for the idea!!

  • Missing

    Dec 23, 2010, 09.27 PMby sarh2379

    Wow, those are beautiful, I can’t wait to get some me time to have a go! Thanks for sharing.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Dec 24, 2010, 12.50 AMby eringilday

      You’re welcome + thanks for reading, Sarh!! Don’t forget to post the project you end up using it for!

  • Missing

    Dec 23, 2010, 09.08 PMby Heychica

    Very pretty buttons!

    • This is a question
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