Thursday, June 12, 2008

Teeny Tiny Eyelets- A Tutorial (lots of pictures)

Well I am going to try my hand at a tutorial. As I said I love linen. I love hand embroidery. After going to the workshop last month I learned a different way to do eyelets and I want to share them with you. Traditionally eyelets are done first by stitching a running stitch around the eyelet then overcasting over that running stitch. It does produce a beautiful eyelet albeit a larger one. With this method you are able to achieve much tinier eyelets. This also is much quicker because you eliminate the step of stitching around the shape. These are not done in a hoop.

pssst, you have to ignore my horrid need for a manicure. :)

  • To begin, insert your #10 sharp needle into the desired location. Wiggle the needle to open a hole, being careful to not tear your threads. You are really just making a starting place. My needle is "parked" into the fabric while I shot the photo.

  • Using one strand of embroidery floss, I have used DMC here, insert your needle into the hole coming up from the wrong side of the fabric two fabric threads away from the opening. The more threads you pick up, the bulkier your eyelet will be.

  • Do not pull your thread all the way through, leave a generous tail that you can hold out of the way with your thumb. Insert your needle again into the hole, again coming up two fabric threads away from the opening. Pull firmly. This makes your first overcast stitch over the edge of the eyelet.

  • You will catch your thread tail under this stitch.

  • Continue to hold the thread tail with your thumb, working left to right, move over from your first stitch just far enough for your thread to have room to lay next to the first, insert your needle, come up two fabric threads away, pull firmly. You only need to pull firmly enough to keep the eyelet open and to have your stitch lay firmly against the fabric. You do not need to strangle the fabric threads.

  • The next two photos show the action of the stitch. Stitching into the eyelet, coming up two fabric threads away and tightening the stitch. (Did you know you can take photos through the magnifier? How cool is that?

  • This is the eyelet after completing 3 to 4 stitches. You will turn the fabric around so that the portion of the eyelet that you are stitching is in front of you. Always making sure you catch the thread tail when taking your stitch. This does two things. One it secures the tail without a knot. (You know, fine hand embroidery has a knot police.) Second it acts as a padding for your eyelet, giving it more definition.

  • When you come to within one or two stitches of being done, clip your thread tail even with the fabric. Take your last stitch or two over the end of the tail, thus...

  • Completing your eyelet.

  • You aren't quite done. Using a tapered awl

  • Insert the awl from the back of the fabric through your eyelet. CAREFULLY stretch your eyelet. This is done in tiny degrees. If you push too hard you will hear the threads of your fabric "pop" and your eyelet will become huge and not very stable. So gently push a tiny bit to shape your eyelet. It will also make the eyelet sit on top of your fabric. (Can you see when you "click" on the picture that I needed one more stitch to cover the eyelet?Good thing I decided to do the bullion loop petals around it. Even with the magnifier, you can never have it too magnified to be able to see.)

  • Ta-da! Isn't he cute?

I am now ready to do my bullion loop flowers. I have just used the same thread to continue with the bullion loops. If you are not going to add the petals, you can tie off on the back by either taking a TINY tacking stitch next to the eyelet overcasts and then bury your tail. TINY. This is not primitive embroidery. I hope this helps and you too can fall in love with linen and teeny tiny eyelets.


  1. LOL... knot police....primitive stitching...ha!

  2. Fabulous tutorial, Martha! Your stitching is inspirational!

  3. Thank you. I am wanting to do a new one on the bullion loop flowers.

  4. The final result belies the elegant simplicity of the technique. Excellent tutorial and photography. Please follow up with the bullion loop flowers tutorial.

  5. Thank you Paula, I will work onthe bullion flower tutorial. I am a visual learner, so I am very sensitive to the need "to see"

  6. Found your tutorials on a 'trip' through Pinterest. Very nice!

  7. This must not be meant for mere mortals like me

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