Handmade eyelets are easy to do and add a special touch to your garments. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make two different kinds.
- Sharp needle
- Embroidery floss
I highly recommend trying these techniques out on a scrap piece of fabric before you work on your actual garment, that way you can get the size right before poking into the project you have spent so many hours on.
Once you have the right size of hole for your lace, I recommend starting at the bottom of your eyelet holes. Why the bottom and not at the top? If you make mistakes or they just don’t quite come out right, no one will usually notice if they are at the bottom, but the top is usually in a more noticeable spot. Also, when I start a new project, it usually takes me about 3 eyelets before they start looking good, if the bad ones are at the bottom you won’t need to rip them out and do over. You can always remove an offending eyelet by carefully cutting the top threads using a seam ripper, picking it out, and then re-stitching it.
Here are the steps that I follow for making eyelets. Please understand that I am not an eyelet expert, this is just what works for me and gives a nice looking result.
- Mark the placement of your eyelets on your fabric. I like to use a pencil, but you could use chalk or a washable marker. The mark will be destroyed in making the eyelet.
- Take your awl and gently push the tip into the middle of the marked dot until the size of the hole is a smidge smaller than you want your finished eyelet to be. Just do one hole at a time.
- Taking a piece of embroidery floss about 18-24 inches long, split it in half so you have two strands of 3 threads. Thread your needle with this.
Making the first pass
- From the top side of your fabric, insert your needle through the hole you just made and poke it into the back side of the fabric and up to the top side, pull it through, but catch the tail end and hold it with your thumb on the top of the fabric.
- Make another stitch the same way, poking the needle through the hole, into the back and up to the front, this time including the tail end, but move the needle about 3-4 threads over from the last stitch and then hold the thread off to the left. When you pull the thread through this time, give it a good tug to the right, you want that stitch to be tight and pull the fabric around the hole into a round shape. Holding the thread off to the left as you are pulling the needle through helps the stitch to settle into the right spot and not just pile on top of the previous stitch.
- After you have gotten half way around, poke your awl through the hole again to make it round again, this also settles the threads that you have just placed.
- Finish making the first pass, and poke the awl through again to make it round.
The goal of this first pass is just to catch the raw edges and keep the hole open, you just want to have about 10 stitches around the circumference of the hole to keep it open.
This is what it should look like after step 2
This is holding the thread off to the left as you are pulling the needle through
Finished first pass
Making the second pass – Satin stitch eyelets
This is a good eyelet for corset lacing holes, and other things that need to take strain.
I work these right to left around the hole.
Go around the hole using the same stitch as for the first pass, but instead of inserting your needle 3-4 threads away from you last stitch, now it should be inserted 1-2 threads from the last stitch. The aim is to cover the edge of the hole with a smooth bump free satiny row of stitches and not show any of the fabric underneath. This is where holding your thread off to the left as you pull the needle through becomes important, if you don’t do this the thread will start to pile up and you will get bumps.
To tie off the thread, I usually just run it under the start of the satin stitches, for about 5-6 stitches and then trim it carefully.
Inserting the needle and holding the thread off to the left.
Giving the thread a firm tug to the right to ‘set’ the stitch in place
Making the second pass – Buttonhole stitch eyelets
These for eyelets look pretty and they are good and strong. I use them for the lacing holes on my corsets. The buttonhole stitch comes out on the outside of the hole, not on the inside, and it locks down due to the way the thread is wrapped. The thread has to be pulled in the right way so that the stitch comes out right, otherwise it just knots itself and doesn’t settle in right.
I work these stitches left to right around the hole, opposite of satin stitch eyelets
Insert needle into fabric about 1/8″ outside the hole, poke it up and through the center of the hole. Take end of thread and wrap around needle, bringing thread back to wear it started from. Pull needle through, and then gently pull thread down away from hole. Once it is somewhat tight, pull up and then pull over towards the stitch sitting next to it.
To tie off the thread, I usually just run it under the start of the buttonhole stitches, for about 5-6 stitches and then trim it carefully.
Thread wrap around needle
Direction to pull thread.
If you have any questions or comments about these instructions, please email me at m_mc_nealy(at)yahoo.com.