There are very few existing button holes from this period. This buttonhole is based on parts found and published in the Museum of London: Textiles and Clothing

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Step 1. I am using heavy fulled wool for this demo. What this means is that the slit I’ve cut in the fabric, just big enough for my button to slip through, won’t unravel. If you are using linen, an unfulled wool, or some other fabric that tends to unravel, you will need to work gently. Slow and steady will be better than fast in cases such as those. In many cases you will have a facing of silk, wool, or linen as well as your main ‘fashion’ fabric. You will need to make sure that each of your stitches catches both layers of fabric. I tend to look at the front and back as I get used to the fabric of the project.


Step 2. Cut your fabric, straight of grain or bias does not matter, both were done in period, close to the edge of your piece. Cut slowly and test putting your button through the slit early on so that you don’t cut the slit too long.


Step 3. Make a waste knot a little distance away from your slit. You can bury the know between layers if you are using a facing. Bring your needle up through the slit. If you do not have a facing to bury your knot in, place your knot so that your first stitches will travel over your thread.


Step 4. Take a small stitch about a 1/4″ from your slit, bringing your needle back through the slit. this is your first starter stitch and it is unlike the rest of the buttonhole stitch.


Step 5. Begin you buttonhole stitch, making sure as you come out the slit that your thread is behind your needle.For a good drawing of a button hole stitch, click here.


Step 6. Continue working your buttonhole stitch along the top of the slit. You can make your stitches right up against one another or you can have some space in between. Either is appropriate for this time period and both hold the fabric edge well.


Step 7. As you take your first stitch on the bottom of the slit, you will make another stitch as shown in step 4 above.Buttonholes in the 14th century don’t appear to have had any rounding at the ‘corners’ or special treatment. One row of buttonhole and a second row of buttonhole. That’s it.


Step 8. As you finish your second row of buttonhole stitch, you will need to tie off your thread.


Step 9. I run my needle under the first row of stitches making sure I catch some of the fabric and some of the thread. I do this all around the entire buttonhole.


Step 10.I run my thread up under my facing or bury it in the fulled wool and begin my next buttonhole. I work up the edge until I run out of thread. This was found to be how they used their thread on a find in London.

4 thoughts on “Buttonholes

  1. Pingback: Buttonholes | The official Battle of Wisby blog

  2. A great tutorial ! The link didn’t show the picture of a buttonhole stitch ..but who cares …your photo explanation is clear enough : )

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