Yorkshire Buttons are basically an extension of an embroidery stitch called a ribbed wheel. (Also known as ribbed spider’s web, back stitched spider’s web, woven wheel or woven spot). Somewhere in Yorkshire, someone had the bright idea of taking this stitch and weaving it free of any backing material. Instead the stitch is woven onto a circular template, thus they were able to take the finished circle off the template and gather and stuff it to form a little sphere and hey presto a new button was invented.
To make a Yorkshire button follow the instructions below. Anything in italics is details which some people might not need or want. Note that I am left handed so the photos show me sewing clockwise. Right handers will probably want to go the other way!
1. Make your template. Cut a circle out of strong cardboard or plastic. No bigger than 5cm (2″) if this is your first one.
a) Use a compass or draw round something the right size.
b) Cut 12 V shaped notched around the edge of the circle, big enough to hold the thread. These should be evenly spaced like a clock face – that is at 30° intervals. Best way to do this is to divide into quarters and then divide the quarters, this way the notches stay even. Imagine or mark the notches as a clock face
c) Pierce hole through the centre.
Bear in mind that the diameter of this circle will end up as the circumference of your finished button. If you want your button to be a certain size and don’t remember all those complicated formulae from school then take the buttonhole measurement and double it and then add about 3mm. You can pull it tighter if it is a tad too big.
2. Thread a blunt darning needle with about 2.5m of thread, this seems alot but it is best to do the whole button without needing more thread. Wool would be the traditional choice in lace weight but I like to use cotton crochet thread (no 8 is good). Bring your needle up through the centre hole of the template, pull the thread to the front leaving about 10cm at the back to hold on to.
3. Next you need to form the spokes to weave the button onto. This sounds more complicated than it is but follow the instructions as two threads must form each spoke and you do need to end up in the right place.
Start by taking the thread from the centre to notch 1, go around the back to notch 12, come to the front and go down to notch 6, go round the back to notch 7, come to the front and up to notch 1, continue in this way in the following order
b = thread at the back, f = thread at the front
1 b 12 f 6 b 7 f 1 b 2 f 8 b 9 f 3 b 4 f 10 b 11 f 5 b 6 f 12 b 11 f 5 b 4 f 10 b 9 f 3 b 2 f 8 b 7
4. From 7 come to centre, take needle UNDER all spokes and come up between 12 and 1, loop over the centre between 6 and 7 and back to form a little anchor stitch. Check that the spokes are sitting centrally before pulling the stitch tight. This will show so it needs to be neat!
5. You are now ready to weave the stitch. It is basically a spiral of back stitches over the spokes, working from the centre outwards. Work as follows – take thread back over a spoke (should be spoke 12 if you came up between 12 and 1). Take needle under this spoke and the next (12 and 1). Pull thread through. Repeat – back over spoke 1 down and under spoke 1 and 2. (basically it is one spoke back two spokes forward). After a couple of stitches the ridges will start to appear and it is clear how the button is formed. Continue in a spiral until the whole template is filled. Neaten the stitches as you go, pushing them together so the spokes do not show and the template is tightly packed.
6. When you can fit no more stitches onto the template the button, turn the template over and run a running stitch through each of the loops on the back. Then slide each of the loops off the template and pull the thread to start to form the spherical shape. Cut off your loose starting thread at this stage, leaving about 1cm inside the button so it doesn’t unravel. Stuff your button with small amount of wadding. Alternatively a spherical bead which is the right size. Draw the loops tight. Lastly make a few stitches at the back to neaten the button up and then leave the thread to sew on to garment.
There you go – a Yorkshire Button, easy to make and can be made to compliment a special garment or when you just can’t find anything in the right colour.
NB This is the first of many tutorials. If you use this and find I have made an error or there is part of the instructions that really don’t make sense to you – Please let me know so that I can correct them. Thank you.