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!


deanna7trees said...

thanks. something else to put on my list to try.

Bri's Bits said...

I learned something new, and also have something new to research, thank you for a new post. very very interesting, ty.

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

Very interesting! I know I've read about Dorset buttons before, but I'd never heard of Grindle buttons. This looks like something I'd enjoy trying!

NANI said...

Thx for sharing.

JennyPennyPoppy said...

These are beautiful looking buttons! I've never heard of Dorset buttons before. Would certainly like to try making a few sometime :)

Christa said...

From another HLG member. Love your post. So interesting. Wished you would come to the HLG fall retreat and give us a lesson.
Christa in VA