Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tutorial: Historical Thread Eyelets

If you have ever spent a long hard afternoon hammering in those purchased brass eyelets into a project, only to have them begin ripping out the second wearing - you will love to hear about an alternative. These eyelets not only happen to be more historical, but they last longer, and they are calming and quiet to make!
Eyelets are the little 'holes' that are used any time that lacing needs to be threaded through something. (the back of a corset or a swiss waist for example) The method below is authentic for 1860s reenacting.

You will need:
-Strong, but not too thick thread. (I used cotton hand-quilting thread)
-A large needle
-A normal sewing needle
-Some objects to stretch the hole. I am using a mechanical pencil (no lead) and an old small paint brush.

This is the back panel of a corset. I have marked in pencil where each eyelet will be placed, and a few have already been sewn.

Step 1: Insert the large needle into the place marked. Work it around and side to side to stretch the hole a bit. (be careful not to break any threads of material)

Step 2: Now with your next smallest stretching object (the tiny end of a mechanical pencil for me), and insert it into the hold you just made with the needle. It helps to twirl it around. Once the end is through, work it around farther up until the hole is stretched a bit bigger.

Step 3: Insert the last stretching object (a small paint brush) A small crochet hook might work for this too.
Insert it into the hole until it is stretched to the size you wish.

Step 4: Thread your regular needle with a long, double strand of thread. (no knot). With a simple running stitch, work your way all around the circumference of the paint brush, staying quite close.

When you have completed the circle, finish with the needle making a stitch that finishes underneath the hole.

Remove the paintbrush.

Step 5: Now with your needle you will be making a whip stitch all around the hole. Basically you are going around and around the edge of the hole. Come up through the large hole and down about 1/8" from the edge of the hole - not pulling too tight or the hole will be stretched out of shape. Repeat. Keep the stitches even and covering the edge of the hole.

When you are finished, tuck the needle under the underside stitches and pull tight. Cut the needle away.


The best part of thread eyelets, is that during construction, not a single strand of material is cut - only stretched. That means there will be zero raveling, and your project with be much tougher and last longer!(not to mention historical!
Please feel free to ask any questions is something wasn't clear. :^)

Have fun!


Wonderland21 said...

Very Neat Tutorial!
I shall have to find something to try it on!

Allison Elizabeth ♥

Jane said...

Very cool! That doesn't look too hard at all, maybe just time consuming. I need to make something historical now.

Fiddlin Girl said...

Ah, thanks! That was very neat.. Now if I ever have to do anything historical that needs eyelets, I can use this method. Thanks for sharing!!

Love ya!

B.K. said...

Nice photos, I've read about how to do this, but visual direction is so helpful! Thanks!

Celine said...

THanks for the tutorial! I've been wondering if there was an alternative to eyelets...
I do have a question..but it isn't related. Do you use steel boning in your corsets? If so, where do you buy it? I'd like to make 18th century stays... but I'm confused about what type of boning. I have plastic boning on hand though.... I know plastic boning isn't correct, but would it be similar?

Atlanta said...


Yes, I use steel boning. I get mine from corsetmaking.com
And the type I use is the white coated 1/4" steel bones. They are very lightweight and very strong, and work amazingly well for corsets or dresses. I would avoid plasic boning, as I have found that it tends to start to bend into a curve after being sewn in, making odd puckers and mishapings in the garment. :^(

Glad everyone liked the tutorial!

Celine said...

thank you!

PrincessR said...

Wow! That is so neat! Now I need to go find something in the closet that needs eyelet... :wink:
Miss you!

Anonymous said...

An absolutely perfect tutorial and just the answer I needed. I'm just making a Halloween costume and didn't want to spend the money on en eyelet gun kit. This is perfect for me because I prefer hand sewing anyway! Thank you so very much!

Emily said...

WOW. Fabulous.

Chelsea said...

Wow, your eyelets are a million times better than mine:

Nancy said...

This is awesome! These are perfect and add period authenticity to my costume. Thanks so much for sharing as I could not have done it without your help!


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