Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Glorious Dorset Buttons Galore!


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I love Dorset Buttons.

I love their history.

I love their charm.

I love their versatility.

I just love Dorset buttons!

And I love what creative people are doing with Dorset buttons these days.

So, when Anita sent in photos of her latest adventures in Dorset-buttonry (I don’t really think that “buttonry” is a word, but it should be), I just knew I’d have to share them with you!

And, in case they inspire you to try some buttonry yourself, I’ve also included several links below to good Dorset button-related tutorials.

Handmade and embroidered Dorset buttons

Dorset buttons are essentially covered rings. The rings can be wood, metal, or plastic, and they’re covered with thread (pearl cotton works great, but other floss, string, or yard will do) using buttonhole stitch.

From there, they are further adorned, usually starting with a criss-cross foundation of spokes around the button, which is whipped together with a ribbed spider web stitch.

Once you start the decorative part of the button, though, you can let your imagination run wild! Beads, French knots, tiny detail stitch – anything’s game, really!

Handmade and embroidered Dorset buttons

Among Anita’s Dorset buttons, there are other buttons as well, including Singleton Buttons and some knobs.

I happen to love blue, yellow, and white together, too, so the color scheme here charms me completely!

Handmade and embroidered Dorset buttons

You might be wondering what you’d do, if you were to indulge in a bout of Dorset-buttonry.

It would be great fun, sure! There’s a lot of scope for creativity, definitely! But, in the long run, what would I do with all those buttons?!?!

Well, if you squizz about online for a bit, you’ll find all kinds of uses for Dorset buttons. I’ve seen them made into jewelry, into refrigerator magnets, into hair accessories, used for accents on crazy quilts, used in upholstering and pillow-making. I’ve seen them used as window blind pulls and for decorations on curtain tie-backs. I’ve seen them adorning tassels and in other passementerie-related uses. I’ve seen them as accents on little gift packages (Dorset button gift tags!), as decorations on birthday cards, and as keychains and scissor fobs. Christmas ornaments? Absolutely!

And…I’ve seen them used as…. buttons!

Imagine that!

If you knit or crochet – or maybe you have a friend who knits or crochets – they’re a great way to add a decorative, unique and personal touch to sweaters, shrugs, scarves, mittens, and the like!

Handmade and embroidered Dorset buttons

Have I mentioned yet that I just love Dorset buttons?

A terrific collection, Anita – it’s so fun to look at! It reminds me of an “I Spy” book. I could keep looking and looking and looking and still discover new details.

Dorset Button-Making Tutorials

If you’d like to try your hand at Dorset (and other) button-making (I like “buttonry” better), here are a few online tutorials I rounded up for you:

Henry’s Buttons – with tutorials, history, and a gallery
Singleton Buttons Tutorial on Sugarloops
Ribbed Covered Button tutorial – similar to the Dorset knob button

Those should get you started in your own buttony adventures!


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(32) Comments

  1. GORGEOUS! Anita, how beautiful your work is!!!

    I most often use Dorset and Singleton buttons on box, book, and handbag closures, but I also made them for my daughter-in-law’s wedding dress, my niece’s Baptismal gown, and for my own garments. The pea coat I sewed last year has embellished leather Singleton buttons. I hadn’t thought of making Christmas ornaments with them. I see a(nother) project in my future…

  2. I can hardly wait to try these. All the different buttons are wonderful. I can see using them in crazy quilts or as flower centers in my wool applique.
    Thanks again.

  3. Dear Mary

    Thanks for showing my Dorset Buttons, they will be added to the lace journal I’m making for my twin Niece who is getting married next year. I’m very nervous about starting the journal as I’ve never attempted this kind of project before but I’ve seen lots of inspiring lace journals on the internet so I can refer to those when I get stuck. Thanks again.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Anita, there are tons of good tutorials for all kinds of bookbinding and journal covers on Pinterest. You might want to check Ruth Bleakley’s website, and Becca Making Faces, as well. (I’ll bet it will be a beautiful journal!)

    2. Thanks Mary for the encouragement.

      Hi Liz thanks for the information on Pinterest, I have researched them but I haven’t looked at Ruth Bleakley’s website so I will do that and thanks for the encouragement can’t wait to start.

      Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Thank you for this wonderful post, and for photos of Anita’s work. I have recently been discovering Dorset buttons, and this was eye candy for me too! Can’t wait to read more about them in the links you have provided.

  5. Thank you for this fascinating article Mary, I was intrigued to find out why they are connected with Dorset ( I was thinking Thomas Hardy etc.) and then found this article on the internet “The first Dorset buttons used products of the local sheep farms: ram’s horn as a base and locally produced cloth over this. These were the High Top buttons. The doublet or peascod was fastened by a single central row of small, closely spaced buttons. These were made tall, to avoid the small buttons slipping out of the stiff fabric”……but then you probably have researched all this. Thank you for such a wealth of interest!! Margaret

  6. Ooh, how lovely!

    I didn’t know they were called Dorset Buttons, I’ve only ever heard them called Passementerie Buttons. There’s a lady called Gina-B Silkworks who demonstrates these on Create and Craft TV channel here in the UK.

    Google her blog, she makes beautiful items. She does a lot of historical type work, Mary – you’d like her work, I know.

  7. I, too, LOVE Dorset Buttons!! And have fooled around with them (and taught many mini-workshops!) for many years!! But inspecting this collage, I have even MORE ideas!!! Thank you, Anita!!! It really is quite addicting!

  8. Thank you Mary–Anita’s buttons look like bonbons! Wouldn’t they be lovely in a candy box as a gift for a stitchy friend? Anita–have fun making your lace journal. These buttons are perfect for embellishing. Love the colors! Mary–in case you want more eye candy, I believe there was an article on these buttons in Stitch magazine (Embroiders’ Guild UK) last year. They were featured on the cover & I purchased a copy online after Barnes & Noble discontinued the publication.

  9. Lovely work!

    I’ve been thinking about trying these ever since I came across them for the first time. Thanks for the references. (So many things to try …)

  10. These are beautiful! Anita, Mary, thanks so much for sharing this. Yet another skill to add to my ever-growing ‘must learn / must try’ list.

  11. I too love Dorset buttons and in fact just asked if any of my facebook friends had any directions for them, but no answers as yet and viola your new blog has links. Thank you. I am making a sweater and a shawl that require buttons and thought these would be a great way to go. Thank you for the links. Love your blogs.I have to finish my 3 grandsons quilts for Christmas and then my plan is to work on a crazy quilt using some of your patterns and embroidery tutorials.

  12. Hi Anita I love all your beautiful Dorset Buttons I have tried a few but never thought of using beads I like the way you ave used them.

  13. I love these Dorset buttons. Many thanks for the links, I have now learned about Singleton buttons too. Have you heard of Dorset posies? They are like the buttons, but the front looks like a posy of flowers. The flower parts are mainly made of French knots, though I’m sure other knots would do as well. They look sweet as fastenings for bags, used as if they are buttons, or faking it with a press stud or some velcro underneath.

    I love your blog Mary! Thank you for all the tips and laughs.

  14. I love these. And being somewhat OCD I have now made a few… OK, a lot… since I saw the pics and followed the links. And these instructions for the basic wheel were so easy to follow. But I have a burning question – is there a place where there are instructions (in English) for different patterns? I would like to make some varied buttons – i have had a go and made a flowery looking thing – but what about spirals or those ones that in the photos look like they have ‘gaps’? i have looked and looked to no avail – any suggestions?

  15. I am so inspired by Anita’s buttonry!! Thanks for sharing. At present, I am needle painting one of Trish Burr’s birds. Then I am going to make some buttonry of my own.

  16. I also prefer the word ‘buttonry’ for sure. Thanks for the tutorial links. I have just recently discovered Dorset buttons and want to learn about the history, how they are made etc. Some very nice creations shown here. Thanks so much!

  17. I was introduced to Dorset buttons today by my daughter who lives in London. I do believe that I MUST have this as a new craft for me to try. I am enthralled by the beauty of these.

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