Quite a while ago I did a piece on a Margo Anderson’s Elizabethan Comfort Pattern, currently out of print. There is a lot of good information in the booklet she provides.

From this booklet I also learned how to make eyelets by hand. It was a fun skill to learn. Now, I know that a lot of the newer sewing machines make eyelets. Mine does not. Even if you have a machine that does, you damage some of the integrity of the fabric, when you cut the threads within the eyelet. When it comes to lacing a bodice, it is better, I think, to keep as much of the fabric integrity as possible.


These are the finished eyelets for the kirtle and sleeves for the Elizabethan Comfort pattern. They with the chording allow the sleeves to be attached to the kirtle.

I would recommend having the following,  a yarn needle , a fabric awl, sewing needle and heavy duty , or thicker thread, or even embroidery floss .

P1020348needle fabric awl

Mark your spacing, especially if you are using them for lacing sleeves as in the kirtle above or a bodice. You want them even, and to match the corresponding side.

The spacing is just like for buttons and button holes. I use a water soluble graphite pencil, to gage my placement. Once I have that set, I use my straight pins, to mark where they should go, as they are easier to see on all fabric types and colors.

0709141204-00 eyelets marked

I start with a yarn needle and press into the fabric, making a smallish hole. I also spin the needle once the needle’s eye is in all of the fabric layers, as in the above photo.

needle eye

Next, take your awl and widen it, further. You may want to turn the awl as you push the threads out. The twisting motion does help the yarns along.

fabric awl 2 fabric awl 3 naked eyelet

Once you think the hole is wide enough, take your needle and thread, go up through the fabric, leaving the tail of the thread loose. Then down into the hole, going around the raw edge of the hole you have created. Then go back up, looping the thread over the loose end, and leaving some space. Pull tight holding the end. This will cause the hole to distort a bit when you pull it tight, and also secure the loose end. Make the next stitch, much the same as you made the first one.

first stitch ancoring the thread

For the initial pass you do not want to make the stitches too close together. Though the number of passes will vary with the size of the hole, six stitches should do on a smaller hole.

anchor front

Prior to starting the second pass, use your awl to widen the hole further. Again, it helps to turn the awl as you press into the eyelet.

widening widening 2

Stitch between your first set stitches. Check for any gaps, once you have come back to the beginning of the first round.

second round

If you have any, you can do another pass. Then slip the needle through your stitches and tie off as you would for button holes. Trim any thread that may stick out, and you are done.