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Medieval Sewing Techniques: Stitches, Seams & Sewing
STITCHING - JOINING FABRIC - HEMMING - NECKBANDS - EYELETS
EYELET CONSTRUCTION - BUTTONHOLE CONSTRUCTION - REINFORCED EDGES
of sewing, joining seams and making eyelets and buttonholes is a topic
of great interest to many historical costumers and re-enactors.
The image at right is a detail from an unknown illumination showing a woman cutting and patterning.
Methods of stitching fabric were fairly
simple. Shown above:
Three simple methods of joining fabric together are shown here-
Method 1. The fabric is laid with
the outer sides together. A running stitch joins the fabric.
The images shown here and those shown below are taken from the Museum of London series of books about medieval clothing and remains their property.
It is possible that this garment or others like it had similar bands at the ends of the sleeves to reinforce the edges which were subject to the most wear.
Shown at right, a detail of eyelet holes
on silk facing from a deposit dated at the 14th century. Traces of woolen
cloth from the original garment are able to be seen at the edges of
the facing band also.
Take a tape measure or ruler and mark out the eyelets at no more than 2cm intervals. When you have marked the eyelets so they are evenly aligned on both sides, you may remove the tacking stitch. Using a double thread or a thickish linen thread, backstitch a circle around the marked hole to provide re-enforcement. It will also give you a guideline to keep your eyelet where you intended and prevent it becoming lopsided.
Using an awl, pierce the fabric carefully pushing the threads apart. It is very important that you do not tear or cut the cloth or your eyelet will lose some of its strength or tear under pressure or repeated wear. Make 4 stitches north, south, east and west to hold the hole open and gently use the awl to reopen the hole.
All that remains, it to sew around the circle with close stitches, using the awl from time to time to keep the hole open. You will be surprised at how sturdy the result is.
Buttonholes, like eyelet or lacing holes, were very close set and always ran at right angles to the edge of the opening of the garment. Care must be taken to make the buttonhole not too large as it will open a little with sewing.
The images shown here are taken from the Museum of London series of books about medieval clothing and remains their property. The image shows buttonholes at the edge of a woolen garment from a deposit dated to 1325 to 1350.
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