Monday, May 21, 2018

Making Dorset Buttons

Have you ever made a garment and not been able to find the right button or embellishment...the answer: DORSET Buttons. Dorset button is a style of craft-made button originating in the English county of Dorset ( The most popular Dorset button today is called the Dorset Cartwheel. Buttons are available readymade online at;; even Amazon has gotten into the picture. Instructions are available on youtube, and there is an excellent tutorial at

At a recent meeting, the weavers were introduced to this technique. The equipment is minimal, a frame, a needle and thread of some kind. The basic steps are: Casting on or covering the frame by blanket stitching around the frame; Slicking or pushing the ridge of the stitch to the inside, Laying or making the spokes and Rounding or filling in the gaps.  Although the learning curve is short and simple, it does take practice to produce a very special button.  

These buttons can be used on almost anything as an embellishment. 

White pearl vs olive Dorset buttons
The original plan for this olive sweater was white pearl, but lo and behold how Dorset buttons set it off. And this blue vest and cap...definitely special.
Note the adorable pink and blue.

We did have an opportunity to make our first button. While it did take me almost thirty minutes, I believe like most craft skills, it becomes quicker and easier with practice.  And definitely worth it.

Have fun.

What’s a half-square triangle?

At last month’s quilters’ meeting, Nancy presented a program about 1/2 square triangles. What exactly is a half square triangle? A Half square triangle is one of the most basic of quilting blocks which are the foundation for many patterns-stars, pinwheels, diamonds, and depending on the colors, the design can be modern, traditional, geometric, flowers, simple, complex. 

There are several ways to make this versatile block.  (A-C)
A. 1.cut 1 square of the background and 1 square of contrast in half diagonally.  2. Take one half square of each, right sides together, stitch 1/4” seam along the diagonal edge. 3. Press to the dark. The dilemma with this method is the bias edge can stretch during your stitching.

B. 1. Take one square of each-contrasting and background. 2. Stitch 1/4” seam along all four outside edges. 3. Place ruler from one corner to another corner diagonally. Cut. Do Not move. Place ruler from the opposite corners diagonally. Cut. You will have four blocks, Press to dark. The dilemma with this is bias, you have two bias edges on each 1/2 square triangle.  

C. 1. Take one square of each-background and contrasting fabric. 2. Draw a a diagonal line from one corner to the far corner. 3.Stitch 1/4” on both sides of the drawn line. 4. Cut on drawn diagonal line.  5. Press to dark. Most quilters use this method. However, care must be taken with measuring your beginning squares to produce your desired finished size. Many tutorials are available on line and on youtube. Now the fun begins. 

How you place your 1/2 square triangle determines your pattern or design. Using Half-square triangles to form this star quilt or simply placing scrap triangles into a pleasing kaleidoscope quilt.

Happy Quilting. 

More than Artisans...a Community with Heart

The Craft Guild of Iowa City is a group of artisans who share a passion to create, whether it be through clay, fleece, fiber, metal, bead, or fabric. But this particular group of craftspersons embody more than creativity, they embody heart, the very tie that enable each of us to feel safe, cared for and part of a bigger world, a community of sorts. Over the years, as we’ve lost loved ones, the guild folks showed up to help, to mourn, to share the grief. Whenever needed, they helped transport, lift, clear gardens, in general, help another participate wholly in this community of friends, this community of artisans.

I have been fortunate to have been on the receiving end of this caring. It may have been a potter who checks if I’m ok when I drop a wrench while weaving, or a weaver who drives because I can no longer see at night, or a spinner who hears my frustrations. One recent episode stands out for me. We met for our usual daycrafters group at my house. As each of you came through my door, you noticed something was amiss but that I obviously wanted y’all to stay. I sat down for just a moment. Later, I realized that three of you were in my kitchen serving coffee, another was answering my door, another was putting out chairs, and several cleaned up I sat. No one asked for help, but y’all sensed it was needed.  And it truly was. If you follow this blog, you may have noticed a significant gap in posting, but I am back. I can talk and breath at the same time, I can walk more than three steps without my inhaler, and no more ER trips. I tell this not because I was sick, we all get sick, but because our guild members are a remarkable group of men and women who are artisans in their own crafts and who enjoy the passions of their fellow guild members, but most importantly, who simply care, who sense a need and respond, a true community with heart. Thank you.