Deathshead Buttons

Talking of buttons.. these are the ultimate for me. Handmade true-to 18th century buttons with the best button name in the world.

Please take a look at the rest of Hannah’s blog – it shows all the other incredible things she does on her Costume Interpretation course, like recreating 1860s underwear and a 1770s French Sack Back (made with handprinted fabric).

Hannah Sutherland

My third and final uni project is a 1770s Sack Back with compere front. Like many 18th century buttons, the ones featured are known as “Deathshead” (or deaths head). These are created by winding lengths of thread/silk/yarn around a button mould. Today i got far too into trying to conquer the art, so i didn’t stop to take progress photos. I have 12 to make in total, so plenty of time for that. I’ll try and do it step-by-step as i found it really confusing trying to follow the written instructions i had initially. Thank God for YouTube!!

So these are the buttons i need to recreate…


and with a little help from the wonderful people at WM Booth, Draper. ( managed to create these..



It took me about 1 1/2 hours to go from knowing nothing to making these 3, so it wasn’t too…

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The Button Queen

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Button Queen – a unique little shop on Marylebone Lane near Oxford Circus that’s dedicated solely to selling buttons. The owner told me that his parents had started the business, his mum being the original ‘Button Queen’ when she sold them on Portabello Road market. There’s a video on the website with more about the shop’s history.

I picked out some simple little ones for the shirtwaister, whilst ogling some in faux-marble and stone. Now for thinking up a garment to go with them.

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On the way back to Euston I passed half a dozen magnolia trees bursting into flower, until this one forced me to stop and get the camera out.button6button7