Button Work Mats for the Dinner and Breakfast Tables

These button work mats would be a perfect addition to any table. With a number of different patterns to choose from, you are sure to find one you like.

The following projects were printed in Cassell's Household Guide: Being a Complete Encyclopaedia of Domestic and Social Economy and Forming a Guide to Every Department of Practical Lfe in 1869. The article has been edited for use on this site.

Vic torian button work mats for the dinner or breakfast table

Click on picture to see more detail.

There are many ornamental accessories, giving a finish to the dinner and breakfast table, in the manufacture of which the female members of the household may find pleasant and amusing employment. At the family dinner, for instance, when flowers are not required as a centerpiece for the table, a glass water-jug and goblets ought to occupy the vacant space. As these, however, would not be effective if placed on the white table-cloth, an ornamental mat is required for them to stand on.

This may be very quickly and simply made, with the following materials: —

  • A sheet of common pasteboard (rather thin),

  • Some fine French merino of the brightest scarlet, and

  • Plain white china buttons of different sizes, such as may be seen in our designs.


The mat should be 22 inches long, by 9 inches wide, and to those dimensions the pasteboard should be cut.

The merino being of sufficient size to turn over the edge about an inch, should now be placed over the pasteboard, and tacked to it, so as to keep it stretched smoothly upon it, the edge being turned over on the wrong side. A straight row of buttons is now firmly sewn all along, about half an inch or less form the edge, taking the stitches through the pasteboard, which firmly fixes the merino in its place, and allows the tacking thread to be afterwards removed.

After this, the design should be worked, and if the Grecian border (Fig. 5) should be chosen, it will look best in the smallest sized buttons. In Figs. 2 and 6 three different sizes of buttons are made use of, and all cases they are sewn through to the pasteboard.

For sewing on the buttons, white or scarlet silk may be selected, according to taste; the scarlet has a pretty effect, but the white gives a pure, dead look to the work, reminding one somewhat of a border of carved ivory laid upon the scarlet ground.

When the design has been completed, the mate should be covered at the back with white glazed calico, which may be turned in and felled down at a little distance from the outside edge.

This button work mat will be found also useful for the breakfast table as a stand for the teapot, milk jug, and sugar basin.

We give six designs for borders suitable for either breakfast or dinner table mats. Perhaps for the former, Figs. 3 and 6 would be the best, as the wider and more elaborate patterns should be reserved for the center of the dinner table.

We have given the dimensions suitable to an average table; but these can be varied, and the button work mats made larger or smaller as required.

Scarlet flannel may be used instead of French merino, and is more inexpensive; but the latter has a delicacy and closeness of texture in which the former is deficient.

For other Button Work items, see:

Button Work Tea-Pot Cosy

Button Work Egg Basket


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