Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dorset & Grindle Buttons

In September, I'm presenting/teaching the program/class for my Lace Guild, recently renamed Lafayette Lacemakers, and it will be about Dorset Buttons. Dorset buttons were popular in the 1600's and 1700's as a cottage industry. They were typically made from the discs of the horns of Dorset Sheep. The technique evolved but with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800's, machine made buttons became cheaper and faster to make. The history and evolution is very interesting if you have time to research it.

The program will be about these buttons specially, the ones made on a ring, a plastic ring in this case, which is covered in the buttonhole stitch and then spokes are formed with thread which are then woven in needlelace stitches. I can't believe I didn't show these buttons made in early July on either of my blogs! This particular style is the easiest. Of course, the colors I've used here are not traditional but I was playing and I like color. I believe they were all done in finer tatting cotton.

One type of button, referred to as a "knob" button, used a wadded up piece of cloth which was then somehow glued into a small ball and then stitched over. I can't remember if it had a fabric circle over it first or not. I won't be teaching this method since there isn't enough time but I will show them samples and give them instructions they can follow up with on their own if they wish. I found a tutorial for a Grindle Button, a Dorset Button variation, by Kelly over at Mackin-Art. She graciously gave me permission to use her instructions.

I found a package of wooden discs at Hobby Lobby in the jewelry section. These are 1/2" wide. Once the button is finished, it looks much bigger.

I cut a circle of fabric and gathered it to fit over the disc. Initially, I tried to put a bit of fiberfill in there too but it was too much effort to keep it in place and sew up the gathered fabric.

Here's how the top looked. In my second button, I made sure the fabric was just a smidgen bigger and made sure it was really smooth and taut at the top.

Here's the underneath side. As you can see, all the raw edges show. I stitched over them at the end but it still wasn't my ideal finish.

I used size 8 perle cotton and made 8 spokes, securing them through the center hole. At first, I was doing my wrapping wrong. If the wrong side was going to show, it would have been right. Rather than go back and do it over, I just started where I was so then the end result was a flat sort of center top before you see the spokes forming. I'm sure variations like that happened all the time.

One suggestion was to make a buttonhole loop for the shank. I'm sure it would last forever but it took extra time and was fiddly.

My next button blank probably came from Hobby Lobby too, in the craft wood section, but it might have come from Michael's Crafts. These discs are 3/4" wide.

This time I cut the fabric circle larger, not just because it was a larger disc but to hopefully have the center meet in the back when gathered up. I didn't take a photo but it did look better. Again, I used size 8 perle cotton and this time I started the wrap at the very beginning so the spokes start a the center.

When I finished the back side, I used a brass split ring as a button shank. It looks better than the first button, largely because I learned from my mistakes the first time around. If I have time before the meeting, I may try out a few variations in the needlelace stitching that I've seen. I'd like to use a different kind of thread too.

By using appropriate colored fabric and thread, my lace guild members can make these buttons to embellish their costumes for the Feast of the Hunter's Moon, a reenactment of the French and Indians trading at the Fort every year. You have to dress in period correct attire to participate and since it took place in the 1700's, the buttons will be perfect.

Any further samples will probably be in bright colors too!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Update on RPL Hedgehog

I spent way more time this evening on a single filling than I needed to. I meant to scan this before I started the second filling and then forgot. The top filling is new for me and I'm not overly happy with the way it turned out. I'll leave it since I plan on doing more versions of this happy critter, mostly to have a sample of that particular filling stitch.

Tonight I stitched the center portion. I actually tried to do a feather stitch and it wasn't working out at all so I clipped it and started over. It's been so long since I've done an arch that I screwed up more than once, but again...I left it as a sample. The shape is what I was going after here.

I don't know yet how I'll do the bottom segment but I do know I'm going to do the entire face in ecru and in a denser stitch, probably the net stitch. I may go ahead and do that before the bottom segment which will give me more time to think about what I want to do there.

I might end up doing like I did with the bells, making several patterns to work on at once. It's helpful to have them all lined up and see what works and what doesn't. I haven't decided yet if I like it in the multicolor brown. I plan to do some in white and possibly some in a solid brown.

I'm using size 70 tatting thread for the filling and I'm wondering if that is too fine? I wanted the delicate-looking thread look but it's harder to work with. This one is very much the prototype!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Here's the next phase. I used a fan braid for the back and added a loop in the middle instead of leaving it wide open. I couched it down differently. I'd been watching some videos of RPL on the Lace News YouTube Channel and found a series on RPL in a different language. I have no idea what was being said but I did notice the braid was held in place by stitching through the center instead of couching. I'm not sure this would work all that well with the plain cord but it works well for the fan braid.

The braids are crocheted in size 20 thread. I have some tatting thread in size 70 in both brown and variegated brown that I plan to use for the filling on the back. I will probably use an ecru for the face. I don't like using size 10 for the cord. It seems too coarse for me and while I know the cord is traditionally crocheted in size 10 and only sometimes in size 20, I think size 20 is the biggest I want to go. In fact, for some things, I may make the cord in size 40 and do the needle lace fillings in a much finer thread. Traditions are meant to be challenged sometimes.

I did learn that the fan cord only unravels at one end so you have to start couching where the braid starts so that wherever you end, you can cut off about an inch away and have plenty of thread for stitching after you unravel.

I'm anxious to get started on this now. I have ideas for the nose and eye and the ear but I'm still not sure how I will do the feet. It will come to me, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I've been wanting to design a RPL hedgehog for several weeks now. I found some instructions about drawing the basic shape, drew one, and then I scanned it.

Then I inserted the scan into a word document and adjusted the frame twice to get two different sizes. I still have the original so I can continue to tweak it if needed. I decided to use the smaller of the two for this project.

I've also been experimenting with braids, thread size, and color. The braid most commonly used is this one and it's crocheted in size 20, Twilley varigated brown. I also crocheted a "fan" shape - I don't know exactly what it's called as most directions tend to refer to the cords as #1, #2, etc. I've seen this called crocheted ric-rac too, in a context having nothing to do with RPL. (Romanian Point Lace in case you aren't familiar with the term)

I have the fan shape ready to couch down for the back. It will give a ridged appearance which I hope will suggest the prickly spikes found on hedgehogs. Well...I don't know if they are prickly or not for sure since I've never seen a real one. What I haven't decided yet is whether to use a few rows of the fan cord or just do the outside/outline. I would space them far enough apart to do needlelace fillings between the lines. I'm also not certain about the other features but I'm thinking of beads for the nose and eyes. I can do a buttonholed strip or circle for the ear but it will probably be a strip, like a loop. I'm still stuck on the feet and mouth. I could skip the mouth but I think it adds character.

The great thing is I can do several versions and decide what I like best later. I have some size 70 brown variegated that I can use for the filling stitches. I have the same size in brown which is probably what I'll do the front in. It's also possible to have several rows close of the fan cord for the back. That would leave all the needle lace for the front. I think I just figured out the mouth but don't know how to explain it clearly yet.

On other lace fronts, I'm doing yet another butterfly in bobbin lace but this time in a fine silky thread. I've only got half of it done after 2 sessions. Normally, I'd have it mostly done in just one but it hasn't gone that way this time.

I'm also driving myself crazy trying to remember where my lucet is. My guild is having a teacher on Saturday to show us some new ways to use it.

Well...late pasta supper is making me very sleepy. Good night!