Yorkshire Buttons

I am lucky to belong to a vibrant branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild that has an enthusiastic committee who arrange an exciting program of speakers and events.  Just over two years ago, I was introduced to this welcoming and creative group, who I’ve found are extremely generous in sharing knowledge, as well as their textile stash, and not least, their cake!

Sometimes we have a practical night where we try a new stitch and at the April meeting we had a go at making Yorkshire buttons. Despite looking impressive, they are actually really easy to make with just a long piece of thread, some pins, a tiny amount of wadding and a circle of foam mountboard.  A full tutorial can be found here on the guild blog.

Be warned though, they are time-consuming and it will probably take an hour or two for one little button.  You will also need an extremely long thread as ideally you want to complete the button using one length, so there is no visible join.  This means it’s liable to tangle frustratingly. (Remember to let your needle hang loose every now and again to unwind.) A lot of elbow room is needed too so despite the lack of kit needed, this is no way to kill time on public transport!

For some members, life’s too short and this would be their first and last ever Yorkshire button. However, I do think they are rather beautiful, particularly in variegated thread and they can be made in any shade to perfectly co-ordinate with your project. I imagine I’ll be using them in future as fasteners for my handmade books and journals.

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Print, Collage, Stitch

When I feel the need for a little ‘me time’, I book myself onto a craft, art or textile workshop. Excitement builds as the date on the calendar approaches and I receive the list of requirements. I gather together bits and pieces from my stash, hopefully having a theme in mind. Then add some more stuff ‘just in case’ and then a bit more. Inevitably though, the exact button, bead, fabric or whatever it is that would have been perfect will still be at home, along with the packed lunch I forgot.

Those massive canvas bags from supermarkets with the flat bottoms are strong and ideal for lugging your stuff around, and you know you have arrived at the right location when you see a bunch of eager ladies laden with two or three of these, overflowing with gubbins and trailing bits of thread.

‘Print, Collage, Stitch’ was a day workshop with textile artist Anne Brooke.  We would produce wall hangings by hand printing papers, attaching them together and embellishing.

The printing part was great fun.  We carved our own stamps and used them along with ready-made blocks on a variety of textured papers, such as maps, glossy magazines and wallpaper.  I particularly enjoyed working so freely and layering print over print, enthusiastically churning out a deep stack of printed papers.

Once dry we selected our favourite areas to collage.  I had brought along some stamps of exotic birds left over from a previous project that I was keen to incorporate.  Finally we added stitched embellishment.

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When I attend a workshop, though it’s nice to go home with a completed item, I really see it as an opportunity to learn a new technique and generate ideas. Without fail, someone will announce at the end how amazing it is that from the same starting point, everyone ends up with something so different and that’s true.

One of my favourite tips from the day was not to fight against the colours you are drawn to. This is a really good point I think, especially if you are creating something for yourself that you will want to keep. When you are investing time making something, you’ll be spending hours looking at and handling it, so it is important to keep your senses happy.

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Anne Brooke’s lovely work and details of her courses can be found on her blog http://h-anne-made.blogspot.co.uk

She also has a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hannemade