Late Medieval Fashion Redressed

How to sew a medieval buttonhole

This tutorial will walk you through the technique for hand-sewing a perfect medieval buttonhole appropriate for use on European 14th and 15th century clothing (and probably 13th century clothing — there were buttons then too.)

You will need a sturdy piece of fabric or better yet, two pieces laid together, in silk, wool, or linen (or combination thereof, to simulate garment and lining fabrics).

You will also need snips, a needle with an eye large enough to fit embroidery floss through, and some embroidery floss. (See this blog post for my recommendations on floss for buttonholes.)

The sewing of a good medieval-style buttonhole takes practice. I recommend that you sew a number of them on practice fabric before attempting them on your actual garment.

Another tip: sew your buttonholes from the bottom to the top when they are placed on the center-front opening. That way, if the first one is a little dodgy, it will be less noticeable. For sleeve buttonholes, I recommend sewing from the cuff inward, to ensure proper placement of the holes. If your placement goes off, better that it occur at the inside end, than at the cuff.

Click here for left-handed instructions

Click here for right-handed instructions

4 thoughts on “How to sew a medieval buttonhole”

  1. Yolande GUERBER

    Je connaissais la méthode, mais j’avait toujours une difficulté avec le premier noeud parce que je commençais directement depuis le premier côté de la boutonnière à broder. Votre tutoriel très clair m’a permis de comprendre la technique qui assure une finition parfaite des extrémités.
    Merci beaucoup.
    Yolande – Metz en France

    1. You are welcome! I’m glad it has come in handy. I’m a big fan of this kind of buttonhole. Very neat looking and sturdier than you’d expect. And bonus — extremely documentable to the 14th century.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: