Friday, September 10, 2010

Death Head Buttons: First Attempt

I recently ordered a few items from Burnley and Trowbridge, including the small book entitled “Death Head Buttons: Their Use and Construction,” by Norman Fuss. Eighteenth-century women’s clothing rarely had buttons, so this is not something that we will be needing frequently. However, recent plans to make riding habits (yes, both of us are planning an ensemble for ourselves) prompted my interest in learning how to make these buttons.

The book provides a nice overview of the history and shows numerous examples both on period clothing or displayed separately. In the back, Mr. Fuss provides step-by-step instructions on constructing the buttons. The process was easy enough for me to follow, so I imagine that most anyone would be able to pick it up; that said, it was also very time consuming and required careful, close attention to details - and lots of patience! - as I went along. Below are some pictures of my first buttons in progress. (This is actually just one button for practice that I covered and then pulled apart and recovered.)  Mr. Fuss specifically says not to use embroidery thread. Unfortunately, I have a lot of it sitting around that is not being used, so I figured it couldn't hurt to use it for some practice buttons. I also tried it with silk thread (the white thread in the photos), which was definitely easier to wrap and made a neater look. I’m going to keep practicing, especially since I haven’t chosen fabric for my riding habit yet, and hopefully it will get neater as I go.

I apologize for some of the blurry pictures - my camera had a tough time focusing.

Materials: Domed wood button with center hole, thread, needle, pin, and scissors

The anchoring wraps

Half-way done (front)

Half-way done (back)

Finished! (This was my very first try and my last wraps were too loose.)



lahbluebonnet said...

Wow! Those are great! Mine are sad, sad, sad. I am really impressed with your buttons!

Anonymous said...

THese are lovely - but where oh where did you find the wooden blanks? Can't seem to find them anywhere.

Ashley said...

Thanks - my buttons have definitely improved with more practice. Wooden blanks are sold by a number of vendors, many of whom are online. I recommend Burnley & Trowbridge: