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Rosalind Atkins - Smocking and Dorset Buttons

Dorset Button History

Traditional fabric based Dorset buttons
Traditional Dorset cross wheel buttons
  • Dorset buttons have been hand made locally since the early 17th century.

  • started in Shaftesbury by Abraham Case.

  • cottage industry made an important contribution to rural economy until the decline with industrialisation in the mid 19th century.

  • many different forms: conical shaped high tops, Dorset knobs, fabric worked Singletons, bird's eye, Grindles and various cross wheel designs worked on wire rings with names such as Basketweave, Honeycomb, Yarrell, Blandford Cartwheel, Old Dorset.

  • used for clothing and examples seen on garments worn by Queen Victoria and reputedly King Charles 1.

  • top quality buttons were sold in London and exported.

  • still very relevant for contemporary usage.

Dorset Button Making

Sets of Dorset cross wheel buttons
  • all Dorset buttons are made by hand with needle and thread, some use in addition fabric, wire rings and/or a hard material, traditionally horn, for a base.

  • no special equipment is required (with the exception of high tops and knobs which need a mould to be set in), they just take a bit of time.

  • a portable and addictive craft.

  • easy to develop new designs once basics have been mastered.

Traditional Dorset Buttons

  • I have almost 30 years experience of making Dorset buttons and still find them enjoyable and interesting.

  • I make sets of traditional Dorset buttons in three sizes, and larger single buttons which can be found at my on-line shop and I am also happy to take orders.

Contemporary Dorset Buttons

  • possible to make Dorset buttons to match a garment perfectly, either a Singleton using the same fabric or a cross wheel of the right colour.

  • cross wheels and Singletons are safe to leave sewn on to garments for washing.

  • I enjoy creating new designs in Dorset cross wheel buttons by using different stitches and sometimes incorporating beads.

  • I particularly relish finding new uses for Dorset buttons and have produced an extensive range of items that feature these buttons that can be purchased from my on-line shop, also see below for examples.


Dorset cross wheel Christmas decoration
  • I supply a range of Dorset button kits, suitable for beginners and advanced button makers, also suitable brass rings for cross wheel work in a range of sizes from 12 mm up to 32 mm.  I have also produced a practical guide to making Dorset buttons.


  • From time to time I offer Dorset button making workshops from beginners cross wheel making and Dorset posy buttons, to more advanced subjects including cross wheel development with the use of colour and pattern, fabric based button making for SIngletons, Grindles and Dorset Knobs and also a festive Christmas decoration special.

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