Rosalind Atkins - Smocking and Dorset Buttons

Dorset Button History

  • Dorset buttons have been hand made locally since the mid 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

  • 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.

Kits and Workshops

  • 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 25 mm.  I have also produced a practical guide to making Dorset buttons.

  • I have been teaching Dorset button making for about 25 years and throughout the year I offer workshops, either as a visiting tutor for embroidery and textile craft groups or bookable for individuals at classes held at the Dorset Centre for the Creative Arts in Poundbury, Dorchester.  All materials required are provided and full tuition given with plenty of extra tips and hints.  Please check events for up coming workshops.

  • Beginners Dorset cross wheel button making - introduction with many helpful tips for successfully creating a firm, durable button, suggestions for use of two or more colours.

  • Follow on Dorset cross wheel buttons - use of pattern and ridge stitches to create traditional and/or contemporary designs, also how to add beads to your work.  Suitable for those with some experience.

  • Singletons, Grindles and Dorset Knobs - how to work the fabric based buttons.  Suitable for those with some experience.

  • Vintage Style Dorset Posy Brooch - based on the cross wheel, this workshop is suitable for beginners.

  • Christmas Dorset button Decorations - suitable for all.

Dorset button brooches and cufflinks
Chunky Dorset button brooch 'Poppy', beaded Dorset button brooch and Dorset button cuff links
Dorset Posy brooch, Singleton button set and flower pattern cross wheel buttons
Dorset posy brooch, set of Liberty print Singleton Dorset buttons and flower pattern Dorset buttons
Dorset button necklaces
A selection of Dorset button necklaces
Dorset button stitch markers, key ring and bookmark
Dorset button stitch markers, reading glasses holder, key ring and bookmark
Dorset button earrings and medley brooch
Dorset button drop earrings with beads and Medley brooch showcasing a collection of Dorset button types
The button box
The Button Box, with lid encrusted in a wide variety of Dorset buttons
Dorset button trimmed bib and toddler slippers
Dorset button trimmed toddler slippers and matching bib
Dorset button hair clips and elastics
Dorset button hair clips and hair elastics
Dorset button making supplies
Various kits for making Dorset buttons and hollow brass rings in a range of sizes
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Dorset button brooches and cufflinks

Chunky Dorset button brooch 'Poppy', beaded Dorset button brooch and Dorset button cuff links