How to Make a Dorset Button

How to make a Crosswheel Dorset Button

Let’s get one thing straight from the start.   Dorset buttons are not hard.  A bit fiddly perhaps but not hard, so don’t you go giving up before you have even started.  Plus, I have written these instructions assuming that you know nothing, so each and every stage is covered. Those people who know a little bit more than nothing can ignore what is written in italics, these bits are for complete beginners.

NB I am left handed so if you are right you may find it easier to work in the opposite direction to me.


You will need

A curtain ring

Fine (2 ply or crewel) wool

crochet cotton or 2 ply wool (size 10 works for me)

Short large eyed blunt needle

Short large eyed sharp needle (this is for casting off if you need to)


Casting or covering the ring

1. Thread your needle with about 2.5 metres of your chosen wool or cotton.  You need it this long to cover the whole of the ring and create the spokes of the wheel without having to cast on again

2. Loop thread around ring a couple of times to hold it steady whilst you start off and then blanket stitch* all around the ring.


4.  Keep stitches fairly tight and evenly pushed together to cover the ring.  Use the loose end to help hold ring steady.

5.   When you have almost gone around the ring you need to tie in the loose end.  Lie it flat along the ring and blanket stitch over top of it.  Finish blanket stitching and slip needle through the first stitch to finish off.  Then pull the loose end tight and trim (Don’t cut main thread, you haven’t finished yet)


Slicking or pushing ridge of the stitch to the inside

Twist the stitches so the ridge is facing inwards.  You can do it gradually and a thumb nail is the perfect implement for this job.

Laying or making the spokes

1.    Have the thread to the front of the ring at 12.00, bring it down to the bottom and bring it back up the back in exactly the middle.  Try and make the blanket stitches part slightly so that your spokes lie flat next to them.


2.   Turn the ring ever so slightly and continue to wind over and over to create the spokes.  Aim for eight or twelve spokes for the first button and definitely only eight if you are using wool.  Don’t worry if the spokes look off centre at this stage.

See how the spokes of the wheel are not centred until you have secured them with holding stitch

3.   When you have got back to your first spoke end by taking needle through stitches in the centre from front to back.  Gently nudge the spokes with the needle, so they all cross over each other at the centre.


4.    Then bring the needle back up through the stitches and wiggle threads again to ensure the spokes are definitely centred and then do another stitch to secure spokes and to make sure they stay centred.  Make theses two stitches a neat cross as they will show.

Rounding or filling in the gaps

You should still have enough thread left to carry on without casting on or you may wish to change colour at this stage.

1.   Starting in the centre, use back stitch* to loop around each spoke in turn.  Use the needle to nudge each stitch towards the middle.

2.   When you have gone around the wheel once, take a good look at the spokes and make sure they are centred, if they are slightly off then push to the middle with your needle.  This is the last chance to wiggle them and its really easy to forget to do this bit.

2.   After a couple of circuits you will start to see the ridges forming around the spokes.  Fill in the whole wheel or stop whenever it tickles your fancy.

3.   If you need to change thread during this stage. Cast on or off by running thread up or down one of the spokes.

Top tip – there is no need to pull all the thread to the front of the button and then pull it all back to the back.  Bring the needle to the front pull a little thread through, take your stitch back down and then pull all the thread through at once.

4.  Keep pushing the stitches towards the centre of the button to keep everything tight and tidy.


And there you go!  Once you have made a basic button it is time to start experimenting.  See my next post for some buttons that I have been making.


*Blanket stitch

a. Start with your thread coming through ring from the back to the front at the top.

b.  Pass needle through centre of ring from behind.

c.  You will have created a loop.  Pass needle through this loop

d.  Pull all your thread through loop and pull stitch tight.

e. Repeat stages b-d over and over again!



 *Back Stitch Weave

a.  Bring needle up through the button on the left of top spoke.

b.  Go down through the button to the right of that spoke.

NB -the button is slightly wonky in this photo.  

c.  Pull tight.

d. Working anticlockwise, bring needle back up through to the left of the next spoke (i.e 11 o’clock)

e. Go down through the button to the right of that spoke.  You can hardly see the first few stitches but it becomes clearer as you go on.

f. Repeat over and over.  Remember; up on the left, down on the right. Working anticlockwise around the button.


Is this tutorial clear?  Is there a glaring error?  Please let me know and give me a pat on the back if it’s useful!!










This entry was posted in Dorset, Heritage Crafts, How to Make, Textiles, Traditional Crafts, Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to How to Make a Dorset Button

  1. Keetara says:

    This is a wonderfully complete tutorial on Dorset Buttons. The best I’ve found online. Thank you!

  2. Vrisayda says:

    So it looks like you are wrapping the yarn around the spokes. It didn’t look like that from other websites. Thanks for making this clearer.

    • Rachel Reynolds says:

      Thanks, glad it is clear – and yes you are wrapping the yarn around the spokes when you make a Crosswheel. There is a variation when the spokes are filled with a basket weave stitch which creates a flatter button with no ridges.

  3. Celtic Cate says:

    Thanks a bunch for writing this tutorial. I bought several Dorset button kits (in UK and USA) and a used book on making buttons, and the instructions in all of them are woefully bad. The book didn’t even have photos of the steps. I just found your tutorial this past week; haven’t had time to try it, but it already makes more sense than the others. I’m an editor, so I’m no stranger to poorly written patterns and instructions (there are a plethora of them on the market…and they get PAID for these things!). Makes a gal want to write her own, but alas! No time apart from work to do so. The part of the instructions that confused me in the “poor” tutorials were how to form the clockwise spokes (before snugging them up in the middle). Mine just looked so chaotic. :) The other tuts. had pictures for everything but this particular step. I’m very familiar with the blanket stitch and use it quite frequently with wool embroidery and other types of needlework, so that part was a cinch. And I “got” wrapping the spokes (even put beads in the first one I made), but my button was quite off-center, so I don’t think I did the clockwise placement correctly. For Christmas every year, I make the local Joann Fabrics staff gals homemade kits to thank them for helping me throughout the year. This year I’ve been determined to make Dorset button kits. I will definitely give your website address in the kit in case my photos confuse them (if that’s okay with you). Again, thanks! Glad to have found you. Best, Cate

  4. Thanks for this wonderful set of instructions. I’m going to make a bunch of these and, if all goes well, try to teach the technique to members of my local fibre guild — with suitable attribution of course! :)

  5. Cheryl says:

    Great directions that are clear and detailed to follow. Thank you.

  6. MAE OVERMAN says:


  7. Catherine Brownsword says:

    Wonderful tutorial. Thank you. I am trying to make some Dorset Buttons to give as little thank you gestures in return for acts of kindness. This tutorial helps a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>