Fabric covered buttons make up a very small subset of my button collection. There's something oldy-worldy about fabric buttons that appeals to my inner Victorian, and for the longest time I've wanted to learn how to design and make some of my own. I knew the time was right when I happened upon a needlecraft booklet in the op-shop last week and turned to this page of lovely linen buttons decorated with blackwork stitching:
Blackwork is a form of needlecraft done with threads of a contrasting coloured thread on a linen fabric - usually black thread on a white ground. The technique uses simple running stitches to build up small geometric patterns. Unfortunately, the booklet didn't give any making instructions, so I just worked it out for myself, and I thought it would be nice to show you the process in case you want to have a go at making some covered buttons yourself.
First, I used a cotton reel to mark out circles in pencil on the back of a piece of linen (an old doily) and stitched around the circle to give me a guideline to sew within. I used my smallest embroidery hoop to make the linen nice and taut for stitching.
Using a single strand of black cotton (not too thick / not too thin) I sewed some little geometric patterns with diamonds, dots, dashes and triangles.
After I'd finished the sewing part, I removed the tacked guideline and cut around the circle, leaving a good 1.5cm of fabric to tuck into the back of the button fastening. You can buy button fastenings from most craft shops and the good thing about them is that they are simple to use. I don't have very nimble fingers, so I put a bit of glue around the back of the fastening to assist with the process of securing the fabric in place. Then you simply click on the back piece of the fastening and you're done.
I so enjoyed making these blackwork buttons that I plan to continue and make a whole lot more, and put together sets as presents for my craftily inclined friends to embellish their clothes. In the background of the photo you can see some small envelopes I've made for the buttons. The envelopes are cut from a poster produced for a survey exhibition of Marilyn Sainty's fashion design a few years ago. If you would like an envelope making tutorial, please let me know and I'd be happy to oblige.
Happy button making everyone.