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Friday 24 April 2020

Dorset buttons…


I hope you're all bearing up and managing to stay sane.

As a freelancer who works from home, lockdown for me, wasn't so unusual to begin with. Isolation goes with the territory. But with work going from a trickle to a drip to a drought, I have plenty of time on my hands. Hands that I can now occupy with making things.

Shirtwaist buttons: a step up from
Dorset buttons but just as compulsive to make.
Photo taken from my next book, Lace Reimagined
(available to pre-order on Amazon).

Dad always impressed upon me the importance of having hobbies. Dad sniffed at that word however, as he considered it undermined the status of his 'passion', and the hours spent every night practising classical guitar*. I feel much the same about the word 'craft'. It often lumps together everyone from exceptionally skilled and creative amateur textiles practitioners through to classroom activities for five year olds. When life or work isn't going to plan, craft is an area of life I can control and make progress in. And I think we all need that right now. It doesn't have to be a big project either. Sometimes, something as small as making a Dorset button brings me a sense of achievement. While the act of making takes me to another place.

If you know about Dorset buttons already you'll appreciate the pieces of joy that they are. In case you don't and want to find out more, or are looking for a small craft project to stave off lockdown boredom, I hope you'll find this worksheet useful.

This usually forms part of a pack that I hand out at workshops and includes curtain rings and thread. If you don't have a curtain ring use a coil of wire, cross section of a card or plastic tube, or wrap some yarn around your finger a few times to form the foundation ring. If doing the latter, sew the first few blanket stitches while thread is still wrapped around your finger (or even the spongey part of a hair roller) to stabilise threads and stop them unravelling. If buttons are too dainty for your taste, why not try a supersized version by working thick cord, or rags, around an embroidery hoop? Dorset buttons can be all about experimentation and the rules are there to be broken. Perfect if you didn't get the chance to stock up on craft supplies before lockdown.


*As a child it used to drive me mad, but the thing I missed most when I left home was the sound of Spanish guitar music. Dad was a fine guitarist and I never quite appreciated this at the time. Isn't that always the way!


  1. There really should be another word for "the hobby that's more than a hobby", shouldn't there...!

  2. These button are so very charming and versatile. I just received your book and can't wait to dive into trying so many things! Many thanks for sharing your art with us.


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