Button, Button – Who’s Got the Button?

by Dana Reeser

Or more correctly, who made the button? Lil’ Duchie never played “button button” so she didn’t get the reference, but this is Lil’ Duchie’s Lady Mother writing to you good ladies and gents today, and it is I who made the buttons – all 25 of them. Long ago, before husband and children, I did embroidery, crewel work and needlepoint. Since James’ :ubersexlich suit obviously required :ubersexlich buttons, I happily volunteered to take up needle, hoop and thimble once more.

Design and preparation proved to be the most time-consuming part of the project. My second design of four crossed lines with French knots in the middle proved to work quite nicely. The button pattern on the back of the button package is a half circle. By taping two together and cutting out the middle, I was able to make my own template which I traced onto the back of the fabric.

The most difficult part was working with metallic embroidery floss which is an absolute ***** to thread onto the needle. I used the strand of floss undivided for a lush appearance. This also allowed me to work the design very quickly. As you can see, the backs of the buttons are rather unsightly…

…but the the right sides are lovely, if I do say so myself.

Each button was then wrapped in its embroidered velvet circle and stuffed into the little rubber thing.
A few hearty whacks with the hammer and Voila!….

:Ubersexlich buttons! You’re very welcome, Duchie. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your wonderful project.


  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    April 2, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    Ah so your mother is an Embroidenator too! They are splendid, and I totally understand the trials and tribs of working in metallic thread. Oof. Well done Grand Duchess!

  • Unknown

    April 17, 2013 at 4:19 AM

    I would love to make the buttons apart that it is so hard to get the right kind of button they can be quite expensive.

    I have made buttons for an 1873 costume with nothing but the material of the costume with lace trim on top, they look lovely.

    I would love to try and make 18th century ones but I dont know if my fingers would let me be neat enough (I have arthritis) could you tell me if there is any other ideas rather than using the modern button to cover.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 17, 2013 at 4:26 AM

      Hi Jessie –
      Thanks for your comment! This is quite an old post, before I learned how to make buttons the 18th century way, which involves gathering the edge of the circle and tightening it around a button mold. These molds were originally made of bone and wood and had a hole in the middle – you can still get them from Burnley & Trowbridge and WM Booth Draper online, but you can also use just any flat or slightly domed button. Once the material is gathered around the mold, stitch across the back in all directions to hold it tightly in place. You can wrap the thread on the back to make a shank, or just sewn the buttons directly on the garment, through the little nub that is created by this process. These take a little bit of time and hand sewing, but they come out quite nicely and completely authentic. 🙂

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