Until I watched last year’s Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (in December 2020), I had never heard of Dorset Buttons before. That was until Louise Armitage (also known as Gini) created the most beautiful picture using five Dorset Buttons to depict the four seasons to clinch the trophy for the Handmade Decoration competition.
Dorset Buttons originated from the county of Dorset (the clue’s in the name) on the south coast of England and have been around since the 1600s. They were used to fasten items of clothing in the days before mass produced machine-made buttons were available and were worn by all sections of society even royalty.
Gini first discovered the buttons as a 17-year-old student when she managed to trace a lady in Dorset, who was in her 80s at the time, and was the last of her family to practice the skill after it had been passed down through the generations. That lady agreed to teach Gini the basics on the understanding that she would keep the tradition going. Gini certainly did that when she introduced so many people to Dorset Buttons on primetime TV!
I caught up with Gini in January this year, after the excitement had died down and the flood of orders which came through in the aftermath of the TV show had been dispatched. We had a great chat about her creative journey as well as her TV experience.
Creativity whether it’s music, craft or art has long been seen as having a positive impact on mental health, and after the year we have all experienced, it’s something many of us have had to focus on. This week on Making Stitches, Emma Jones from Vintage Sewing Box speaks about the benefits of focusing the mind on stitching and how that simple repetitive activity can calm the mind and our thoughts look ahead to Christmas with the Apex Singers.
Emma Jones says on her blog that she ‘loves sewing’ it’s been an important part of her life since early childhood. In this episode Emma not only explains how stitching has helped her deal with difficult times, she also discusses her love of English Paper Piecing and hand embroidery and has a truly lovely tale about a quilt dedicated to the memory of her Gran.
Also this week, as our thoughts turn towards Christmas, we hear from The Apex Singers about a special Christmas Concert they are hosting online. The young vocalist group, which is based in Manchester, launched its first album back in March just as the UK went into lockdown and is now looking forward to performing together for the first time since that launch. Lydia Wonham from The Apex Singers explains how 2020 has changed the way the group has made music and how they now want to share their Christmas performance with as many people as they can online.
You can find out about The Apex Singers here and you can buy tickets for their Christmas Concert ‘Snowed in at Home’ here.
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The music featured in this episode is Make You Smile by RGMusic from Melody Loops.