Instructions for Dorset Buttons

Written by elizabeth tumbarello
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Instructions for Dorset Buttons
Use embroidery floss and a tapestry needle for Dorset buttons. (needle and thread image by Nikolay Okhitin from

Dorset buttons, also called "high-tops," originate from Dorset, England and date back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The height of fashion during this time, Dorset buttons were originally made from sheep's horn and thread. Still common today, Dorset buttons can be made using materials readily available at many craft stores and require only a few basic sewing techniques, making them an ideal project for beginning seamsters to hone their skills.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plastic bone rings
  • Embroidery floss
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle

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  1. 1

    Snip a 100-inch length of embroidery floss. Thread the tapestry needle with the embroidery floss. Do not make a knot. Do not pull the ends parallel or doubled.

  2. 2

    Hold the loose end of the embroidery floss -- the end without the needle -- flush with a plastic bone ring. Leave an inch or so hanging.

  3. 3

    Bring the needle up through the centre of the ring. Pull until you have only a small loop covering the ring itself. Thread the needle down through the loop and pull taut. This is called a blanket or whip stitch.

  4. 4

    Repeat this stitch multiple times. Periodically push the stitches together, packing them firmly and tightly around the ring. Blanket stitch around the ring until only ½ to ¼ of the ring remains uncovered.

  5. 5

    Run the inch of embroidery thread you left loose at the beginning of the project parallel to the ring. Stitch over the ring as established, sewing over the loose end to secure it. Once the ring is covered, snip any remaining floss from the covered-up end of thread. Leave the needle and thread attached.

  6. 6

    Slide the outer ridge or seam created by the stitches toward the interior of the plastic bone ring.

  7. 7

    Wrap the embroidery floss and needle over the empty centre of the plastic ring eight times. Turn the bone ring a fraction of an inch with each pass, so the passes do not overlap each other.

  8. 8

    Secure the centre of the passes to create eight "spokes" across the centre of the bone ring, each consisting of two threads -- one on each side of the ring. The spokes were created wrapping the yarn around the ring.

  9. 9

    Weave through the spokes with the embroidery thread. Push the needle up on one side, over the spoke, and down the other side of the thread. Pull your thread taut after each pass over a spoke.

  10. 10

    Continue weaving until the entire open centre of the plastic ring is filled with weaving stitches.

  11. 11

    Slide the needle through the woven stitches. Remove the needle and snip the embroidery thread close to the woven edge.

  12. 12

    Attach the button to project by sewing through the back of the woven stitches.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with different weaving techniques. Use different colours, or switch colours in the middle of weaving for a different look.
  • Use yarn or thin thread for different results.
  • Experiment with different base rings -- recycle plastic soda bottle rings, curtain rings or other round, hollow objects for the base of the buttons.

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