Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 28: how to make a Dorset button

I am currently stitching the Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui as a stitchalong project. See the end of this post for all the information you’ll need to join in!

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To make the closure on this heart etui, I needed to learn how to make a Dorset button. I’ve never made one before, but the instructions in Inspirations magazine 95 looked very detailed, with lots of pictures, so I thought it shouldn’t be too difficult. Ha ha ha!

To start off with, the instructions said to use a plastic ring with a diameter of 15mm (5/8ths of an inch). Hmm. Well, in the UK at least, that seems to be impossible to buy. Maybe it’s possible in Australia, where Carolyn Pearce lives. I had to get a 3/4 inch diameter ring, made by Hemline, so my Dorset button looks ‘chunkier’ than her one.

The instructions said to use one strand of Gumnut Yarns stranded silk – but I’m using substitutes for almost all the colours, so I used one strand of Anchor stranded cotton in shade 266 Moss green, and a size 26 tapestry needle. I wasn’t at all sure that the coverage would be enough with just one strand, but it looks OK. I started by knotting the thread around the ring, and made blanket stitches over the ring, trapping the tail of thread at the back as I went.

How to make a Dorset button

I had thought that using their recommended length of thread (60 inches) would be plenty, even though my ring was larger than theirs, but I ran out at this point:

How to make a Dorset button

Tying in another length was messy, and fiddly, but I got there in the end! I used another 50 inch length, which was enough to finish the ring, work the spokes and do the wraps (but I didn’t bother to do the edging stitch as in the magazine, as that was just too fiddly for me!).

How to make a Dorset button

Using the same thread as for the blanket stitch, without cutting the end of thread and starting again, I started wrapping it around the ring to make eight spokes on the wheel. I worked a few cross stitches across the centre to bring the spokes together, and hold them tight.

How to make a Dorset button

Then I worked rows of back stitch around the spokes, to make a kind of woven web out from the centre. I worked eight complete rounds of back stitch (rather than the five recommended in the instructions). I was so intent on keeping the thread taut while I did this, that I didn’t notice that I was getting more and more off-centre, unfortunately.

How to make a Dorset button

On the final, ninth, row, I included a bead between each spoke while doing the back stitch (I changed to a betweens 10 needle for this, as the tapestry needle was too fat to get the beads on).

How to make a Dorset button

Then I took the thread up at the back of the button and over the edge of the ring to the outer end of a spoke, and wrapped the two threads (front and back) of each spoke as I worked my way back to the bead. Then I put the needle through the next bead, and repeated the process until all spokes were wrapped. Really fiddly!!!!

As I had decided not to work the edging stitch around the ring by this point, although the instructions said to take the needle to the outer edge at the end of adding all the beads ready to do the edging, I took it into the centre, using the last of the thread length to attach the Dorset button to the front of the heart etui panel. IT MUST BE DONE NOW rather than later on, as, once the panel has been laced over the heart shape made from template plastic, it wouldn’t be possible to stitch the button in place. The instructions, however, state that the button is attached ‘once construction is complete’ WHICH IS WRONG!!!

Here’s my Dorset button, once attached to the front heart panel (I’ll explain how I did the lacing in next week’s blog post). I stitched it on with the off-set centre made to look as if it’s a design feature  🙂 My button is definitely a lot larger than the one in the magazine. It’s a bit too prominent for my liking, as a part of the panel’s design as a whole, but I’m not making another one. Ever. Sometimes, you have to do something once, in order to know that you don’t ever want to do it again  🙂

How to make a Dorset button

Here’s the front panel of the heart etui from the magazine – you can see that the button on that one is smaller and more dainty than mine.How to make a Dorset button

Oh well, at least it’s finished! I hope yours comes out more successfully than mine!

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The Strawberry Fayre design, plus the complete list of materials, appears in Inspirations magazine number 95The publishers do sell a full materials pack  (not including the mother of pearl ruler though!), but it’s rather expensive, so if you can use your stash, and just fill in with bits and pieces, then so much the better! The magazine is published in Australia – if you live in the UK, as I do, it is cheaper to buy a back copy from Manor House Magazines, and save a lot on the shipping. 

EDIT: The materials pack from Inspirations, and the magazine from Manor House in the UK are not available any more as at March 2018 – I don’t know if any more stocks will be available now, unfortunately. The publishers may bring out a digital pattern pack later, which they sometimes do with popular projects from their magazines, but we’ll have to wait and see…..

To read about this project stitchalong from the beginning, start here. The post about which FABRIC to use is here. The post about the THREAD SUBSTITUTIONS that I made, plus WHERE TO BUY the threads and beads, etc., is here.

To look up all the posts in this series in the sidebar, see under the CATEGORIES list, under: Embroidery / Full size (others’ designs) / Strawberry Fayre heart etui, or use the SEARCH BOX at the top of the blog, and search for ‘Strawberry Fayre’ to get a list of all the posts (but it’s in reverse order, sorry!).

I’d be interested to see images of how your project is progressing – please email large, clear, well-focused images to  Please bear in mind that any images sent may be used in this blog and/or social media such as Facebook or Pinterest.


Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.


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12 thoughts on “Carolyn Pearce Strawberry Fayre heart etui 28: how to make a Dorset button”

  1. I salute your courage to tackle the Dorset button for the first time. My experience in trying to get the center medallion in the exact center resulted in the same as yours. I like the look of your button on the heart etui, and if I hadn’t seen the original I don’t think I would have thought it was not as designed. I like the look of yours!

    You did make me giggle though, when you said that you wouldn’t ever be making another Dorset button! Thanks for sharing your progress on this project.

    1. Well, I think it was more like ‘Beginner’s Ignorance’ rather than courage in tackling the Dorset button! But I’m really not keen on ever doing another one. Besides, I have a stash of thousands of pretty buttons, so if I ever need a button for anything, I think I’ll use one of those next time 🙂

  2. I actually prefer the size of your button. It looks balanced and integral to the project, whilst the smaller one looks more like an after-thought.

  3. I did several workshops in making Dorset buttons, so that’s not a problem. However, I haven’t made the button yet and I DID lace the heart over the template plastic… Bummer. Me and my tiny curved needle are going to get up close and personal in the near future :).

    1. I think it doesn’t help that the instructions actually say that the button isn’t attached until after construction is finished – maybe what they should have said is ‘after the embroidery is finished BUT BEFORE lacing it over the plastic sheet’! It’ll be possible, but not easy, I think. And yes, a curved needle will help! It’s just another one of those problems with the instructions for this project.

  4. I much prefer the larger Dorset button on the etui. To me it looks more in balance with the motifs on either side. Dorset buttons are on my todo list but finding it impossible to get decent rings. Years ago, it was popular to do a similar technique on thin bangle bracelets and offsetting the weaving to produce trees etc.

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