Just enough room to fit 7 students learning to create a buttonblanket robe sampler in the cozy Raven’s Nest Gallery owned and operated by Sue and Israel Shotridge on Vashon Island, Washington State

Almost 30 years I’ve been designing and creating button robes.  It never occurred to me to teach a class until Sue Shotridge dropped the first hint a couple of months ago.  She bugged me some more until she got a real commitment.  Golly, I’m sure thankful she insisted.  As usual, like anything a teacher teaches, we just get better at it.  With the tricks-of-the-trade I learned from my students, I shoulda been teaching classes long time ago!

Tools of the trade: thin sock filled with baby powder, pounce wheel, rotary cutter, snip scissors, Elmer’s glue, paper pattern, straight edge, antique mother-of-pearl buttons and of course, your fabric…!

The pounce wheel creates tiny holes along the design lines which will allow the baby powder to filter through onto the wool

Cindy Leask using the rotary cutter to cut the pattern in her black wool

…cutting out the design. The entire class pretty much kept up with one another…impressive!

A few of the students worked late into the evening…

After sewing down the design with a blanket stitch, the buttons are carefully laid out

Each button is carefully glued in place. This trick I learned from the late Agnes Thlunaut Belllinger back in the late ’70s when I never even thought of making robes – one day during dance practice, out of the sky blue, Agnes said “…Clarissa, when you are making button robes, do the layout of all the buttons and then one-by-one glue each carefully with Elmer’s glue…” Little did she know I couldn’t stand sewing buttons onto even a shirt let alone a robe with hundreds of buttons, but somewhere along the line, she musta known what my spirit many years later would go into…

It was great to see enthusiastic students play with buttons…

Clarissa’s first button blanket-making class – L to R: Clarissa, Anne Kelly, Michelle Ruelas, Paul Barry, Marilynn Short, Cindy Leask, and Steven Seto