Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Tutorial: Dorset Wheel Buttons

Dorset wheel buttons made with hand dyed thread

I taught myself how to make these wheel buttons from a book years ago. They're pretty simple once you've got the hang of them but they're really quite beautiful and by playing around with threads and colours you can change the look quite a bit. They can be used as buttons, embellishments or just make them for fun. Several people have asked for a how to so here it is!


Firstly, assemble your supplies:

Rings-curtain rings or the rings sold for crocheting around work well. More or less any kind of ring will do so see what you have lying around and experiment, you could use bangles for really big buttons!

Thread-I like cotton perle thread but any solid embroidery thread (i.e. not stranded, you can use this but it's quite annoying to work with) or yarn will work. Think about the size of your ring and match your thread accordingly (for a large ring you might want a thicker thread and for a small ring you probably want a finer thread.) Variegated and hand dyed threads are fun to experiment with.

Needle-blunt tapestry needles are good. Again, choose a size appropriate for your thread and ring.

Tea-not essential but I find it helpful.

Start with a long thread

To start off with you need a long length of thread, about 2 metres for a small curtain ring. This is the only time I advocate a long thread! Tie your thread onto your ring and then work around your ring with blanket stitch. This should have used up a good portion of your thread but you should have quite a bit left.

Tie the thread to the ring

Work buttonhole/blanket stitch around the ring, over the loose end as well

Keep your stitches close together

When you can't fit any more stitches on, you're done!

Traditionally, the 'bumps' are pushed to the inside but this is something you can play around with. I quite like them on the outside.

'Bumps' pushed to the inside

This is the bit that at first seems a bit complicated but once you get the idea it makes sense! We're going to create the spokes of the wheel. Start with the thread at the south end of the ring then take it to the north then go from the south east to the north west, then east to west and finally north east to south west. Fix the spokes in the centre with a little cross stitch.

South to North

South East to North West

East to West and North East to South West

Cross stitch to hold spokes in place

[Please excuse the change of sample in the pictures, I wasn't really paying attention to what I was doing so the pink and green wheel only has 6 spokes instead of 8. Oops.]

Working from the back, backstitch over each spoke in turn

Working around in a clockwise direction

You can see the stitches build up

Change colour as you need/want to

View from the front

You should now have 8 spokes. Working clockwise, backstitch over each spoke in turn. I find it easier to work from the back (have a quick scan at the pictures before you start, it should hopefully make things a bit clearer.) Keep working round and round until the spokes are full.

More pictures to help show the backstitch bit...

More pictures to help show the backstitch bit...

If you need or want to change thread, take your yarn through the back of the work and tie a small knot. When starting a new thread make sure you carry on from where you left off.

When you're done, take the remaining thread through the back to the centre

Finished Dorset Wheel Button

When your wheel is full, run the thread through the back of the work to the centre and secure it. I like to leave a longish tail so I can use it to attach it to whatever I want to attach it to.

Another example

As I mentioned at the start, you can play around with these in a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make stripes with different colours
  • Experiment with different textured yarns and threads
  • Experiment with the buttonhole bumps on the inside and the outside
  • Try different sized rings and try flat rings as well as more rounded ones
  • Try only partially filling the spokes
I hope this tutorial is helpful, I'd love to see your creations and also if anything is unclear please let me know and I will try and clarify. Happy stitching!

Variegated wool: Embroidery Sampler

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