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How to Make a Button‐Edged Doily
This is an easy-to-make doily project that can be used for display or for sitting beneath tableware or a vase. The doily can be made in any colors and patterns you’d like, and maybe even made to match a holiday or seasonal event.
Selecting the Fabric and Buttons
Aim to match the fabric to the buttons.This may be by color, pattern or even texture, depending on your preference. Some ideas include:
- Red fabric with a mixture of red and green buttons for a holiday theme.
- Gold fabric with gold buttons for a sumptuous theme.
- Patterned fabric with buttons that pick up the colors of the fabric; this could even be a rainbow, etc.
Choose fabric that is of good quality and durability.Since you may be placing items on top of the fabric, it needs to be able to withstand weight and use. Cotton, linen, hemp, velvet, etc. would work well. Using off-cuts of fabric from the craft basket can be a good choice.
Choose buttons that are in excellent condition.Since this is a display piece, the buttons must be presentable. If using new buttons, this will be a given. However, if you’re selecting buttons from a button stash, avoid using any that are scratched, broken or deformed. If you're after a quirky look, choose buttons that represent your desired theme; a mixture of shapes and colors can work well for a quirkier look.
Choose strong thread.The thread must be strong and durable, capable of holding the buttons in a hanging position off the doily. Metallic or perlé threads are recommended. However, metallic thread can be tricky to work with if you’ve never used it before, so try to practice stitching with it on scrap fabric first, to get the feel for it.
Preparing the Fabric
Decide on the size of the doily.For the purposes of this tutorial, the size suggested is 12 centimetres (4.7 in) diameter. You are free to resize this; just remember that the larger the doily, the more thread and buttons needed to complete the project.
- Once you’ve mastered the technique, you could consider making a set of doilies of varying sizes.
Cut two pieces from the fabric measuring 12 centimetres (4.7 in) in diameter.Use sharp sewing scissors to make a clean cut. If there are any frayed pieces, trim the fabric before commencing.
Making the Doily
Place the two pieces of cut fabric with the right sides facing together.Sew around the edge of the circle, leaving a small gap that will allow you to turn the doily the right way around. Once stitched, trim away any excess fabric with care (avoid cutting the stitches), then turn the doily to the right side.
Stitch around the edge of the doily.Use an up and down buttonhole stitch. This is achieved by sewing the buttonhole stitch, taking the thread down through the fabric. Once you've done this, push the needle under the fabric’s edge, then bring the needle back up in an upward stitch. With the thread sitting under the needle’s point, push the needle up, then down, to form the stitch. Continue in this manner all the way around the fabric.
- Work the same stitch over the gap left from the previous step as well.
Finish with a neat knot.Cut away the thread line and prepare to add the buttons.
Rethread the needle with the same thread used to edge the doily.This thread will be used to attach the buttons at the point of each buttonhole stitch made. There is a lot of work involved here, so you may wish to do this in several stages.
Adding the Buttons
Add the buttons.Find the loop that was formed at the end of a buttonhole stitch you wish to begin from. Weave the needle into the loop to form the catch, then attach a button with agenerouslength of thread (the button should be a little way out from the doily, not snug) by inserting the needle through one buttonhole. Before bringing the thread back to the next buttonhole stitch, wrap the thread around the shank to strengthen the link (it also looks nicer).
- The thread is not cut between each button attachment; there will be a visible attachment line all the way around.
Repeat for each button to be added, all the way around the doily.It is likely that you will need to renew the thread now and then; be sure to knot off tightly and neatly each time you change thread.
Finish up.Knot off the last piece of thread and tidy up the thread as needed. Check that all the buttons are aligning neatly and that the doily sits well when placed down. The button-edged doily is now completed.
- You can experiment with two buttons being attached to one thread if wished; perhaps a small and a large button.
- This doily must be hand washed; do not place in the washing machine or the buttons risk being broken or lost. It's also a good idea to pre-wash the fabric before stitching, to ensure that any shrinkage is already accounted for.
- If you don't wish to make your own doily, make use of the many used ones for sale in charity stores and antique shops. Simply use the button-adding section of this tutorial to complete the project, either following an existing edging already added or adding the buttonhole stitching as described above. This is a nice way of giving someone's handiwork a second chance at being loved and used again.
- When ironing, place a face washer or hand towel over the doily, to prevent melting the buttons.
- Keep all buttons away from small children, as buttons are a choking hazard if swallowed.
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