How to Hand Sew Eyelets

If you have not already done so, I recommend reading Medieval Hand Stitching – Basic Stitches (Start Here).  It describes what supplies you will need for hand stitching medieval garb, how to start and end your thread, and the basic stitches upon which most other stitches are based.  This tutorial illustrates two methods of sewing eyelets found on extant medieval garments, and discusses some variations for later period style corsets and covering modern split metal grommets.

There are two primary ways to sew eyelets: with the buttonhole loop facing inward, or the buttonhole loop facing outward.  Both are equally acceptable, and in both cases the side of the garment where the loops are visible should be the inside.  It can also be helpful to first sew a running stitch in a circle slightly larger than you want your eyelet opening to be.  I am not aware of any extant medieval garments where this was done, but it was definitely done post Renaissance and helps to ensure the eyelet ends up exactly where you want it and the correct size.  It is also completely covered by the eyelet stitches, so it should not be visible on your finished garment.

For most garments just stitching the eyelet is sufficiently strong to handle wear.  For extra-high stress uses, like tight laced corsets, it can be helpful to make the blanket stitches around a solid grommet ring.  For reenactment, the blanket stitch can also be applied over the top of a modern split metal grommet to hide it from view and provide a more period look.

For medieval reenactment in most cases you will want to use linen thread.  If you do not have linen thread, or are emulating a later period garment style, buttonhole thread and other polyester or cotton heavy-duty thread types work extremely well.

 

How to Hand Sew Eyelets, Hand Sewn Eyelets Diagram - Inward Method, by Sidney EileenInward Loop Eyelets

  • Create your hole with a tapered awl.  Re-widen the hole as needed while working.
  • Whip stitch in wide stitches around the hole to hold it open.
  • Use a buttonhole stitch, stitching towards the center of the eyelet.  Be sure to place your stitches very close to create a strong eyelet that will last.
  • Optionally, you can use slightly wider stitches and circle the eyelet twice with buttonhole stitches.

 

How to Hand Sew Eyelets, Hand Sewn Eyelets Diagram - Outward Method, by Sidney EileenOutward Loop Eyelets

  • Create your hole with a tapered awl.  Re-widen the hole as needed while working.
  • Whip stitch in wide stitches around the hole to hold it open.
  • Use a buttonhole stitch, stitching away from the center of the eyelet.  Be sure to place your stitches very close to create a strong eyelet that will last.
  • Optionally, you can use slightly wider stitches and circle the eyelet twice with buttonhole stitches.

 

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