Hand working an eyelet with a buttonhole stitch is surprisingly fast and easy. Hand-worked eyelets are strong, easily sizable, don’t fall out, and most importantly, you never find yourself running out of the color you need at 3am.
Finished eyelets, front side shown.
Size: 1/8″-1/4″ inner diameter. Outer Diameter depends on stitch size.
Additional Supplies Needed: Heavy Thread, Awl (a sharp pencil will do in a pinch)
Figure out where you'd like your eyelet. Poke the Awl through the fabric.
This leaves a hole where the threads have been pushed aside.
Eyelets go faster if you use heavier thread. I'm using Topstitching thread. I find it easier on the hands than upholstery thread and less fussy than embroidery floss.
Thread a needle, and knot the ends together. (I like a Goldeye 10 Sharp, but it is a little small in the eye for heavier threads. You can do it if you wiggle the thread a bit, though.)
Starting with the needle in back of the fabric, push through to the front.
Pass needle through hole, to back side, and pass between the threads at the knot. Pull tight. Ideally, you want the thread ends as far from the hole as possible. The thread is now completely secure. (Shown from back side of fabric.)
Push needle back up to the front of the fabric, close to your original stitch.
Buttonhole Stitch: Pass needle through hole to back of fabric, then up to front. For a small eyelet like this one, I'm working about 4 threads from the hole and 4 threads over from the last stitch (clockwise) Pull thread end under tip of needle, then around the top before pulling needle through. Pull tight.
Lather, rinse, repeat. You can see the effect of that thread-wrapping business: because the thread is brought under the tip of the needle, each stitch makes an L shape, which gives our eyelet a neat broder.
To end, make a small stitch to connect the ring and pass the needle through to the back side of the work..
One of the things that really slows you down when you’re sewing by hand is knots. I don’t mean the kind that show up in the middle of the thread uninvited (though those are a bugger too). I mean the kind that you have to tie at the end of stitching so that it doesn’t all come out. I was taught a fussy little method with a short stitch, a loop, cutting long ends, a square knot, and cutting the ends. That’s, like, fifty-two time consuming steps and I was forever making the first cut too close and having to tie the knot with these microscopic little bits of thread.
I don’t do that anymore. I just make a little french knot in the last stitch. (I’m including this because my own mother was shocked and astounded when I told her about it, so I figure there might be others who aren’t aware….)
In back, pass the needle under an existing stitch and wind the thread around the needle 2-3 times. This will make a knot.
Pull the thread tight, being careful to keep the knot close to the fabric.
Pass the needle under the threads of a few existing stitches. Pull tight, then snip the tail close. This last stitch secures the thread tail so you don't have little pokey-threadsies. A secure thread tail is a happy thread tail.
Finished eyelet, from the right side.