Friday 2 April 2010

Kirtle Lacing

The day before yesterday I finished the eyelets and the neckline on the kirtle. I tried it on, with one sleeve pinned in, and it looks like it’ll work. Yesterday I made up the sleeves, but for the buttonholes, sewing in the buttons, and attaching the sleeves to the kirtle. I’m working on that today.

I took some step-by-step pictures on how to make the eyelets, in case anyone wants them. There are other pictorials out there, but one more won’t hurt.

First, mark where you want the eyelets to go. Poke a hole with an awl, carefully.

You don’t want the threads to break, if you can help it, you just want them to move over a bit. This will make the eyelet stronger than if you punch a hole in the fabric. I have a bone awl that I found in an old house my family used to live in.

Sew buttonhole stitch around the hole you made. There are finds from different periods where the eyelets where just sewn with simple whipstitches, but I prefer the buttonhole stitch. Also, where the eyelets have been sewn with linen thread, it has usually decomposed, so you can’t tell what stitches where used. You might have to go back and poke the hole open again as you work.

When you’ve finished the sewing, the eyelet will be tiny – poke it wider with the awl. I do this from both sides, it looks best to me. Finish all the eyelets.

Lace the kirtle shut. Spiral lacing is the period thing to do, from the 14th century up to the 19th, so this applies to stays (corsets), kirtles and gowns for later eras as well. Good instructions on spiral lacing can be found here.

And please, use a period cord for the lacing! It looks really sad with a well made garment laced with a poly-satin ribbon…

Hopefully I’ll get the kirtle finished enough for me to take pictures tomorrow.


  1. I loved the eyelet tutorial! I use nearly the same method to make my (mostly 19th century) eyelets, but do use a whip stitch. Do the buttonholed eyelets hold up better? It all looks really wonderful!

  2. Looks lovely!
    I can't wait to see the finished product!

  3. Thanks so much for making this! :)

  4. I'm glad you liked it!

    I think buttonhole stitch hold up better, and I think they make it look neater. I use whipstitch a lot for other things, though. But whip stitch is period, so I wouldn't change that if it works for you.


I love to hear from you - please comment!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.