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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

kitty: needle lace buttons and crochet buttons

Some textile historians link the popularity of needle lace buttons with the masses to Queen Victoria's Silver Jubilee and the decline of the Hair Mourning Jewelry Industry. Women who had been working in the Hair industry suddenly had more time on their hands and used the similar techniques to start weaving buttons on small linen frames. The linen frames were used both for the hair and string art that were popular during the Victorian era so the supplies were readily available.

Crochet buttons actually date much earlier in popularity as well as tatted buttons.

I was trolling the ebay vintage button section and ran across these really amazing examples of both crochet and needle lace buttons. Though probably the most amazing thing was the linen forms that were also in the bag with the buttons.

Needle Lace buttons hold a special place in my heart since over the years. When I am asked to talk to embroidery groups and craft groups I have often taught classes on these techniques. I would show examples of the knots and wraps in both mourning jewelry and buttons. Over the years I have spent many hours reverse engineering the techniques used in Victorian Mourning Jewlery.

In a lot of the Victorian crafting literature you see lots of references on how to create crochet buttons or tatted buttons for your lingerie, but seldom do you see references on the needle lace buttons. Though in historical collections there are a lot of examples.

The two buttons above are less than a 3/4 of a centimeters big and are absolutely amazing examples of needle lace.

This type of spoke button is one of the most common. Though I had not seen the knots that run over the edge before on this button.
This button is an example of one of the first 3D hair ornaments that you were taught to make when weaving with hair. So this was a very popular motif.
The last three buttons here are crocheted. The first two show an example of embroidery techniques used in conjunction with crochet to embellish the top of these two sand dollar inspired buttons.
And finally this is the type of crochet button I think we are all familiar with, but this one was done over a hollow bead that has not been stuffed to give them shape.


  1. This is fascinating; I had never seen buttons like these. They remind me of buttons my grandmother had but I don't know if they were crocheted or lace and I doubt they were made by hand anyway. Probably just a machine made take on the real thing. The needle lace buttons are mesmerizing.

  2. Fascinating! Thanks for the tour!

  3. Wow.. those are gorgeous! I have some beautiful handmade lace that came from my husband's great (x2 I think) grandmother's house- I will have to bring it out and photograph it for the blog one day! I rescued it before the family threw it out, thinking it was a jumble of scrap- I can't imagine what else was thrown out that looked like "junk" to them.

  4. These buttons are magnificent. It always makes a difference with luxurious buttons.

  5. Thanks for the Crocus compliments!