Monday, May 26, 2008
One of my love-of-craft minded friends is a dorset button maker. Fiona is based in Melbourne and sells her intricate buttons at Buttonmania in the city. Below is a little history of the dorset button Fiona has kindly put together.
Dorset buttons are a woven thread button. Woven thread button making was a thriving cottage industry in southern England from the early 1700's until about 1860. Tens of thousands of buttons were made annually and exported globally. Dorset buttons were commonly used on children's clothing, women's blouses and underwear.
Men, women and children worked in the industry. To meet the global demand for dorset buttons, prisons, orphanages and even prostitutes(!) were engaged to make buttons. In the mid 1850's the industry came to an abrupt end with the introduction of the automated button machine. Tragically hundreds of families lost their livelihood, villages were abandoned as people emigrated to Australia and Canada.
The buttons are pretty easy to make and the brass/metal or plastic rings can be got from Spotlight (from either the craft or the curtain section). You can pretty much use whatever thread you like but I have used mainly perle cotton (usually used for crochet- i think). Instructions on how to make them can be found at the following site.
Thank Fiona for sharing your love of the dorset button and for kindly loaning me your buttons to be photographed.
Buttonmania, level 2, 37 Swanston Street, city. Phone: 9650 3627