Friday, January 31, 2020

Day 31 : Unity

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 31 : Unity

Day 31: Unity


That's it - the end of the first month of the challenge!

Today's button revisits my original Union Jack design, this time adding a knot in twisted Japan gold and a grappe edge. As usual at the moment, the thread is perle No 12 and it is over a No 3 mould - to be fair one of my favourite sizes. Which is probably why it is included in so many of my kits.... :)

Size: 26cm / just over 1" / 42L

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Day 30 : Dorset Basketweave

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 30: Dorset Basketweave


Day 30: Dorset Basketweave


Today's button is a traditional design - one of my favourite of all of those considered true Dorset buttons. I've never actually seen a vintage or antique example, but it is a lovely button and very mindful to work. I have some really pretty variegated vintage thread and I wanted to show that off - the colour difference is so subtle - so thought that this would be a good design to do it with. Sometimes simple is best.

Instructions for this button can be found in my book (Buttons: A Passementerie Workshop Manual) and DVD Making Even More Buttons, and is also included in my online course Dorset and Other Ring Buttons. This button is also lovely when french knots or beads are added, to make it into a basket of flowers.

I used a No 32 brass ring and perle 12 along the edge, with the vintage thread used for the filler.

Size: 19mm / 3⁄4" / 30L

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Day 29 : Garland

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett Day 29: Garland

Day 29: Garland


Today's button uses the embroidery technique of plushwork, so the button is very tactile and quite like velvet. I've worked a grappe edge to keep everything tidy, and colonial knots in the centre. I do enjoy colonial knots... 

Mark cut me some templates for this technique over a year ago, and I do think they make a lovely button, so now I need to make sure all of the templates work well. It's a great way to use up threads!

Size: 25mm / 1" / 40L

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Day 28 : Bolster

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 28 : Bolster

Day 28: Bolster


Today's button uses another of the new trial mould sets we are working on. Covering the outer part with fabric is more tricky than I thought it might be, so I will need to work on the technique a little more, and perhaps tweak the mould design. I am happy with it though in the end. What you can't see here is that the surround has a little bit of wadding, which then made me think of the side of a bolster cushion...

I've used a silk fabric and some - yes - cotton perle No 12.

Size: 25mm / 1" / 40L

Monday, January 27, 2020

Day 27 : Gateway

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 27: Gateway

Day 27 : Gateway


An experiment for today's button - using copper wire. Really, I think I thinner wire would have been easier and probably look a little more refined, but I do like this copper wire and the way it feels. So, I'm quite happy!

You'll have probably noticed the buttons tend to be posted a little later on a Monday - that's usually because first thing on a Monday is about sorting weekend orders. Just in case you wondered... :)

I've used a No 11 hexagon mould, copper wire and No 12 perle thread.

Size: 26mm / just over 1" / 40L

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Day 26 : Enlace

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 26: Enlace

Day 26 : Enlace


A little different for today's button! This button is covered with leather, through which has been threaded a little length of a silk fingerloop braid. The braid is made using silk that I hand dyed many, many years ago, I seem to recall that iron was one of the mordants used, hence the greyish colour. It was so long ago though that it would be a day or so before I found my notes...

The leather was, I thought, vegetable tanned. Turns out it may have been, but it was then coated so it did not behave the way that I wanted it to. Having figured out how to make "proper" leather knot buttons and the process involved involved in finishing them during the summer, I originally intended to try something similar here. So, this is a little different than I saw it in my head, but I still like it.

I've used a metal cover button (the type you can buy to use at home). 

Size: 24mm / just under 1" / 38L

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Day 25 : Intercross

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett Day 25: Intercross

Day 25 : Intercross


Playing around with mixing thread wrapping and ring button techniques with this button. Working on a ring allows you to see through the layers and play with those if you feel so inclined. 

Flat faced rings work better for this type of experimenting I think. The threads slide about less, which means you feel as though you have a bit of control.

I've used a 36mm ring here, and my current favourite thread it seems - perle No 12. Don't worry, as the year progresses I will be using other threads!

Size: 36mm / 1 7⁄8 "/ 58L

Friday, January 24, 2020

Day 24: Carnival


Day 24 : Carnival


I think this is my favourite to date! In my 2016 challenge I experimented with some wrapping techniques that were a bit different to the traditional methods. This is an extension to that - I really love how the lines change direction. It isn't easy to explain, but it is fun to work!

This week's theme in the button group I am in is 'Circus' and I think this works quite well. It isn't named that though because I named one of the designs in the Zwirnknopfe Button Journal Kit Circus, and I am trying not to double up :)


Size : 30mm / 1 3⁄8" / 48L

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Day 23 : Trax

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 23: Trax

Day 23 : Trax


Today's button started out as something entirely different, which I didn't like at all so started again. I was in the mood for a bit of embroidery, and didn't really know where this was going!

Linen fabric covering a ring, with quite a bit of padding so that you can't see the ring at all. This would have worked equally well on a cover button, as the embroidery is all on the surface. I just happened to pick the ring up (as I said, it started differently in my head!). The thread is a tiny No 16 perle I picked up somewhere.

Size: 25mm / 1" / 40L

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Day 22 : Cirque

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 22: Cirque

Day 22 : Cirque


This button uses the zwirnknopfe technique - which is very like doodling really. Just wrap and add stitches where threads cross. 

They always make me think of the Spirograph sets, and this year I treated myself to one for Christmas! And I love it. :)

This button uses a flat aluminium ring (No 105) and No 12 perle cotton

Size - 31mm / just under 1 1⁄4" / 48L

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Day 21 : D'Anjou

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 21: D'Anjou

Day 21 : D'Anjou


Today's button is another trial for new moulds - which I am quite happy with in the end. Turned out a little more couture than I thought it might. D'Anjou - a type of pear, and one that also has a red variety. 

I've used silk satin and Au Ver a Soie Soie Perlee thread (I love this thread), and placed a second satin covered disc at the back to protect the layers.

Size: 25mm / 1" /  40L

Monday, January 20, 2020

Day 20 : Skep

One Button a Day 2020 - Day 20: Skep

Day 20 - Skep


This little button is based on some that have survived on a 17th century sleeve. Well, I think that's the date. I cannot, for the life of me, find the reference that goes with the image that I have. Which is terrible of me. I am usually pretty good at keeping details when I find images. So I am hoping I'll be able to track it down.

This was worked over our specially made wooden moulds (sorry, one that's currently out of stock...). I've used a fine silk and gilt ( real gold plated) thread. 

A bit of a pain to photograph, because the gold messes up with the camera, but got there in the end. Named because it is a little like the shape of a skep. 

Size (across the bottom) : 12mm / 7/⁄8" / 18L

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Day 19 : Iced Star

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 19 : Iced Star

Day 19 : Iced Star


This button mixes a lot of traditional thread wrapping, weaving and needlework techniques. Mixing up the techniques is something that was done historically. 

The grappĂ© along the edge is often seen to cover areas that were not covered by the main wrapping, or to support threads that would otherwise slip. It is really a blanket stitch, and seen in just about every form of needlework from lace making, embroidery, plain sewing, buttons and other forms of passementerie, and it has many different names depending on the discipline. It is a great stitch to learn how to do well. 

I've used No 12 perle and a No 4 button mould. There's a fair bit of thread on this, so the size has increased a little.

Size: 32mm / just over 1 ¼" / 50L

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Day 18 : Jammie

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 18: Jammie


Day 18 : Jammie


This button came about as an idea when I tried a button first made by button maker Yoko Odaira. Those buttons were made using red and white thread, and I as I made it I considered how it could be made to look a bit more like a jammie biscuit! I thought it better not to actually name it a Jammie Dodger, as I am pretty sure that particular name is trademarked - I don't want to get into any trouble for a button! I also decided a more old fashioned looking biscuit would better suit the technique.

In planning out how I might make this, I got carried away and now have quite a few sketches of different biscuit and sweeties that would make fun buttons. Many people refer to buttons as candy so be prepared, there will be others during the course of the challenge. What's your favourite?

The jam is a bit of wrapping from a Babybel - I do keep interesting bits of packaging for purposes just like this. I thought it was the perfect colour for jam, and thread, even silk, just didn't quite work.

I am really pleased with the effect of the bullion knots around the edge, although they took ages and a lot of thread. This is the largest of the buttons I've made in the challenge so far, so probably best suited on a shawl or a bag - a big focal button. It could probably be made much smaller if a little simplified. 

I used cotton perle No 12 in two colors, and another of the new moulds we are prototyping. 

Size : 47mm  /  1 14⁄16 " / 82L

Friday, January 17, 2020

Day 17 : Candy Stripe

One Button a Day 2020 - Day 17 : Candy Stripe

Day 17 : Candy Stripe


This button is another testing out new shapes and inspired by a small picture that my Grandmother made to be placed over my cradle. It is thread wrapped too - in red - and I have often wondered if my fascination for thread wrapping came from this. I used to try to figure out how the pattern was made when I was little. Of course, as soon as I learnt about button wrapping, I figured it out.

A couple years ago I saw the pattern for the basic frame and instructions for wrapping it in an old book, if I recall from the 1920/30s. I have often wondered if she had access to that, or if it was something that she learnt elsewhere. 

I used cotton perle No 12 for this. 

Size: 27mm / just over 1" / 42L

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Day 16 : Freeze

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 16 : Freeze

Day 16 : Freeze


I am part of a button group that has a weekly theme - this week's is "winter". So, here is my winter inspired button.

I have created this on a prototype for some new moulds that we are developing. There are a few things to tweak, but overall it is a good first design. It is great fun trying to work out new designs for button moulds, and Mark has cut me quite a few to play around with. Of course, when they have been tested, they will be available on our website.

I have used a No 12 perle and seed beeds 

Size: 25mm / 1" / 40L 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Day 15 : Motley

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 15 : Motley

Day 15 : Motley


This started out as a V-Wrap button, which is included on my DVD "Making Even More Buttons". It is a design that works really well with soutache braid and is very effective on its own. 

For this though, I've added extra embellishment with embroidery - you need to use a really fine needle to sew through commercial soutache without snagging it so I tend to use a beading needle.

The embroidery is in silk and cotton. 

Size: 27mm /  just over 1" /  42L

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Day 14 : Sprig Aire


Day 14 : Sprig Aire


Today's button is based on a staybright (anodised aluminium) military button. In an old journal of the British Button Society - Issue 71 from June 1992 to be precise - there is a little piece about a military button given as an explanation to the term death's head asked in issue 69.

"The design, on metal buttons, was used by certain staff officers of the British Army from about 1780 until 1900. It was also known as 'German' and 'Sprig Aire'."

The article goes on to state that in April of 1991, this button design was chosen to be used by the new Adjutant General's Corps, calling the button design the death's head.

Alongside this, is a line drawing of the button provided by Firmin & Sons, makers of the said buttons.

Illustration by Firmin & Sons
The design supplied by Firmin & Sons

It is obvious from the drawing, that the design was taken originally from a thread wrapped button, although the leafy springs along the edge are, I think, a metal button design feature. They are quite similar to the surrounds of Victorian "perfume" buttons.

Today, a slightly different design tends to be called a death's head (especially when referring to those of the 18th century) - no doubt as a result of deeper research by various button collectors over the years. That, and the fact that in some areas (the clergy and QCs for instance) the 'original' thread deaths head seems to have been in regular use, if a tailor could be found to supply them. When simplifying to create the design in metal, unless you know how to make the buttons, many people still refer to this as the death's head, which makes complete sense.

Silk deaths head button by Gina Barrett
The silk deaths head above is worked with single strands, but could be worked with groups of threads, to create a more stepped design.


I enjoy reverse engineering non textile buttons that were obviously based on textile types. It is always interesting to see how the button designers interpret the techniques that they are not familiar with.

I've used fake gold thread - DMC Diamant thread. It was actually much harder to work with than real gold thread, especially for the wrapping. They look less smooth that they would have looked with real gold, so I will need to revisit this now I have a way of working it. The mould is a tagua nut mould, No 15.

Size : just over 20mm / ¾ " / 32L


Monday, January 13, 2020

Day 13 : Elegante

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 13 : Elegante


Day 13 : Elegante


Today's button is quite simple. But I really like it. It is one that could easily be worn - not just as an embellishment. I can see this on a nice, classy coat...

The covering is a cotton fabric - a fabric that I love, I don't know why. Its brown, with a twill weave and somehow just lovely! I've then added three lengths of real gold thread. The thread was specially made by Benton & Johnson for my medieval embroidery work. They have not been couched into place, instead they are held in place by the button back (I've used my little button machine for this one).

Size : 25mm / 1" / 40L

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Day 12 : Spring Wish

One Button A Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 12 : Spring Wish

Day 12 : Spring Wish


I don't know about you, but I am feeling the need for spring. Another wet and windy day and night - it's been so wet this year for us, everything is soggy and I suspect many of the bulbs will have suffered. Such a shame we can't move our rain over to Australia where it is needed.

So, some bright colours for today's button, hoping spring will arrive soon. 

This button was worked over a 27mm acrylic ring with perle cotton thread in two sizes - No 8 and No 12. 

Size: 27mm /  1 2⁄16 " / 44L

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Day 11 : Parma

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 11 : Parma

Day 11 : Parma


This button started as a simple star wrap on a hexagon mould. I then added surface embroidery, including wrapping and grappé stitch. Oh, and a colonial knot!

I'm afraid I don't know exactly which perle cotton thread sizes I have used, as I raided my stash and there are no labels on these. I'm fairly certain there's a No 8 & No 12, although the purple might be a No 16...

The finished size is just over 25mm / 1" / 40L 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Day 10 : Whirligig

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 10 : Whirligig

Day 10 : Whirligig


Isn't that a great word? We don't use words like that often these days, we really should.

This button is totally different to what I started out making. It became a bit like a doodle - I like it when that happens, as I am often surprised at the outcome.

I used a 30mm aluminium ring (No 105) and No 16 perle cotton for this one.

Size: 30mm / 1 3⁄16" / 48L


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Day 9 : Cupcake

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 9 : Cupcake

Day 9 : Cupcake


Today is the birthday of a dear friend, and so this little embroidered cupcake is for her. It is embroidered using some wonderfully fine silk threads that she gave to me, so it seemed fitting to use them for this design.

Looking on my FB feed - it seems a lot of my talented friends have a birthday today - the stars must have been in alignment!

The button is embroidered on linen and I have used my button machine to cover the button mould. 

Size: 25mm / 1" /  40L

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Day 8 : Kleine Lebensblume

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 8 : Kleine Lebensblume

Day 8 : Kleine Lebensblume (Little Flowers of Life)



Today's button was designed by my friend, the wonderful Austrian button artist Sabine Krump. This is from her book Die Geschichte vom Zwirnknopfchen. 

Essentially an 8-point wrap, what I think so many of us who love button making are really fascinated with is the way that the colours or a simple stitch can make the button look completely different. And that means that as a maker, you can create a different button knowing only the most basic of techniques.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Day 7 : Like, Totally...

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 7 : Like, Totally...

Day 7 : Like, Totally...



What can I say? This button just makes me think of the 80s, hence the name.  I've been humming Duran Duran all day too...

Technique-wise, something a little different. The button mould is a No 65 trimmed square, and I've covered it with cotton fabric. This is not how it was intended to look - I was struggling with what I wanted and so instead got out my pot of Paverpol and decided to use that to both attach the pieces and thread in the shapes I wanted (the centre is rolled), and to harden the whole thing. The Paverpol is white when applied, so it was quite nice to wake up this morning and see the finished result!

Shame the weather didn't agree. I have had such a hard time photographing this that I decided to wait until I was at work and could get out the photo lights (I have been sorting out my button post first thing in the morning). Which, I have to say, have not yet been properly set up. And lo and behold, a bit of fluff appeared, so I had to start again. And you know, my photo software struggled too, so my note to self is do not use this blue again :)

The finish is really nice though. The Paverpol is a hardener, so the rolled feature won't get squashed. I see more buttons using fabric hardener in my future!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Day 6 : Polyphemus

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 6 : Polyphemus

Day 6 : Polyphemus


Today's button is named for Homer's Cyclops. A bit unusual I know!

I've had some eye shaped jewellery findings for quite some time, purchased solely with the idea of making eye buttons. I've still got at least another three ideas of how to use these in different ways, but this time I decided on using the zwirnknopfe techniques of wrapping.

The iris is an even smaller ring, again wrapped using the zwirnknopfe method. It is the attached to the centre of the eye shaped ring, which in turn is added to the centre of an acrylic ring. I used perle cotton no 12 for this, with the exception of the black, which is a 20/3 lace thread.

The button is 40mm / 1 1½" / 60L

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Day 5 : Beginnings

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 5 : Beginnings

Day 5 : Beginnings


This button has been inspired by a completely different challenge. For those of you who has kept up with my new 'regular' blog, I spent a bit of time over the holidays working on mini books for the Tando Creative 366 challenge. While I don't expect to complete that challenge, I am enjoying dipping in and out. Anyway, the word prompt for that challenge on the 1st was "Beginnings" so I drew a seedling. And as I drew I thought, this could make a button...

Tando 366 challenge and One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett


The ground is a some wonderful thick wool that's been in my stash for years - left over from a commission to cover buttons for a 17th century coat. The wool is so thick, there's no need for a button mould. Yes, I really do keep the smallest pieces of nice stuff!

To this I've sewn a small "seed" made of cotton and stuffed with cotton, decorated with a cotton wrapped stem, and a wired, embroidered leaf. The green cotton for both stem and leaf is perle no 12. This was worked separately, as in stumpwork, and then attached, which means I could give the little extra curl on the leaf.

The button (measured along longest side) is 25mm /   1" /  40L

It is also quite a thick button - best suited for a coat I think. Or maybe a bag.... 



Saturday, January 4, 2020

Day 4 : Emblem

One Button a Day 202 by Gina Barrett - Day 4 : Emblem

Day 4 : Emblem



This button is inspired by an antique button that was made of metal and I think, pressed horn. The original button mimics one made of fabric or thread, and I like to collect images of these. In fact, I have started getting a few for my collection too... (shhh!). I figure that many, originally, would have been inspired by thread buttons. They are often changed in a way that cannot be made using thread or fabric, but they do serve as an excellent source of inspiration. 

Of course, mine ended up looking very little like the original, as it served as inspiration, not a copy. One day I'll have to try an actual copy.

Materials used - 39mm Acrylic ring, cotton perle thread from my stash. Label is missing, I think it is DMC, size 12. I chose to work this in a single colour to emphasize the difference in textures, but it could work equally well changing colours for each section I think,

Finished size: 40mm / 1 916" / 60L





Friday, January 3, 2020

Day 3 : Button Moon

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 3: Button Moon

Day 3: Button Moon



For this button, I first covered a two part button mould (36L)with cotton fabric, using a machine, I then worked the needle weaving using the most gorgeous Japanese silk thread gifted to me. It is the perfect weight for something like this and reflects the light perfectly. I then added the small padded area of cotton fabric. 

The additional work and padded area has increased the size of the button a little, adding about 2mm. That's something that needs to always be considered with and worked buttons, so I always recommend that if you are making your own to work your buttonholes after you have finished the buttons. 

If I were to do this again, I think I would try adding the padding first, as it was quite difficult doing it in the order I worked it!

This finished button is about 25mm / 40L / 1"



Thursday, January 2, 2020

Day 2 : Coiled Flower

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 2 : Coiled Flower

Day 2 : Coiled Flower


This button is inspired by the ceremonial baskets made by the Navajo. I understand they are called Ts'aa'. However, the techniques used to create this are probably more akin to ore nu embroidery from the medieval period here in Europe.

I was asked yesterday if I would have tutorials for every button. I did explain that if I were to give away the patterns for all 366 I wouldn't have a business left (as button making instructions and kits really are the mainstay of our small business), but I do hope that as the year progresses I'll be able to give a bit of info for some and perhaps later on a few kits as I did back in 2016. I do also know that at least some of the buttons I intend to create will be included in a book I am currently putting together. This button is one that I can talk you through -

I covered a fine copper wire in cotton thread for the core, and stitched this to a linen ground, creating the design by embroidering over this with some silk hand dyed by the lovely Debbie from the Mulberry Dyer.

The piece was then gathered around the edges and a small circular shape was created. I spiral wrapped a 20mm (No 2) MDF button mould in the same silk, then pushed it into the back of the shape, which helped to fill the dome I created. I stitched this in place at the back to give structure to the button.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Day 1 : Diadem Cluster

One Button a Day 2020 by Gina Barrett - Day 1 : Diadem Cluster

Day 1 : Diadem Cluster



Happy New Year everyone!
This button is named for a firework and uses zwirnknopfe techniques. The materials I've used are a 39mm acrylic ring (No 72) and No 12 perle thread, I've also used a transparent sewing thread - not easy to work with, but great for highlighting the fact that the ring is transparent.