Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Deathhead Buttons by Steven Radosevich

The Deaths Head button is a common type of Leek button. Leek buttons are named for Leek, England, where as early as the 1600's it became a center of the button industry. It is a mystery why they were called Deaths Head. This type of button is found on numerous garments dating from the early 1700's and on through the 19th century. A bone, horn, or, wooded button form was wrapped with thread. Silk Buttonhole thread works best, but linen and mohair was also used. 

The below instruction show how to make a deadhead button, but not the designs that Steven has done.

Begin by wrapping an "X" around the button mold with four wraps forming each cross. Hold the tail of the thread in back of the mold and use this to anchor the thread when you turn 90 degrees. Make sure your "X" has divided the mold evenly or your wrap will not be centered.

Use the "X" thread to hold your next wrap. Bring the thread around the front in the sequence shown. Careful, this requires some dexterity.

Repeat this sequence, working your way toward the center of the mold. Each wrap holds the previous one in place. At some point in the procedure the thread will want to slip off the mold. You will have to cut off enough thread to finish the button (2 to 3 ft.) and use a needle to trap each wrap under the threads in back.

When the mold is completely covered, bring the needle up through the center and anchor the last wraps with a stitch or two.

Copy from Wooded Hamlet Designs. Photo supplied by Steven Radosevich.


  1. These are gorgeous buttons; they look stunning. I last made Dorset buttons about 25 years ago with my needlework teacher at school. I wish to have a go at making some again and also to have a go at these Leek buttons too, as your picture has really inspired me, but would appreciate some guidance on reliable and reasonably priced suppliers as I cannot find any local to Norfolk and am loath to spend the seemingly large amounts required for them online.

  2. I really enjoyed the history behind these beautiful buttons:) Thank you x


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