Step-by-Step instructions for producing Eyelets, Points and Brass Aglets

This page is part of the Fingerloop Braids Website.

By Master Bedwyr Danwyn (Ted Lazcano) and Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa (Lois Swales)

Coordinating the Sizes

The starting hole in the cloth is often bigger than the finished eyelet size because the sewing around the hole takes up space. The hole should be just bigger than the aglet/point size. When determining this, a number of eyelet test holes might have to be made. Different thickness' of fabric will affect fit. Things to watch out for: the finish on the wider end of the brass aglet is important. It should be smooth or it will roughen and eventually break the sewing around the eyelet hole. If the aglet is too big or rough it will wear out the hole and may pull off the brass aglet. A sample set of sizes that work together:

  1. Eyelet: Hole size before sewing: 3/16" (20 D nail size)
  2. Aglet: 1 1/2" long by 1/8" at the widest end of the cone. This is made from brass sheeting .010 thick.
  3. Braid: 25 strands of embroidery floss simulates the look of the extant reeled silk examples. Floss also is cheap and comes in many colors. 25 single strands are used in total to make the diameter of the braid. In other words, for a 5 braiding element pattern, each element would contain 5 single strands of embroidery floss. Embroidery floss comes as a thick stranded skein that has 6 individual threads per strand.) Another alternative is leather strips of sheep (goat) or deer skin cut about 1/4 - 3/16" wide.

Aglet/Chape/Point Making

First, you must make your mandrel. A mandrel is a 3/16" steel rod tapered by belt sanding in the last 4 1/2" to a narrow cone, with the point slightly blunt.

Steel rods are available from hardware or metal shops (ask for cold-rolled). To put on the taper, spin the steel rod against a belt sander, and finish smoothing with finer sand paper. Testor's hobby sanding films work very well for this.

Find sheet brass of .010 thickness. Thicker brass makes clumsy aglets. 4" X 10" sheets are available for less than $2.00 at finer hobby shops and art supply stores.

Making the flat aglet pattern from scratch:

If you want to make chape ends for other size braids, you may need to make a new pattern.

To do so, take a 2" piece of masking tape and lay the longest edge up the center line of the mandrel:

Roll the mandrel around the tape until the long starting edge meets the masking tape. Then, when they meet, trim off the excess with a razor blade. Unroll this tape carefully. Place this tape on your sheet brass and trace around it with a fine point marking pen. Cut it out with tin snips or aviation shears.

This will be used to make the final pattern. This piece will be formed and trimmed until it is close to what you want. This may take several rounds of bending and flattening out, followed by trimming down and rebending.

Once you have formed a cone that you like, mark the two holes for sewing or riveting on opposite sides with a marking pen. Support the inside of the aglet with a round toothpick and carefully drill the holes (about 1/16") all the way through. Then unbend the brass and flatten with a hammer. The sides should be perfectly straight. A belt sander will help, or use a file along the edges.

This is your final pattern. Transfer this pattern to sheet steel and cut out. Drill or punch the two holes. This template might also need to be made a little smaller by sanding or filing. Getting the pattern right is very helpful if you make a lot of aglets.

Aglet Making

First, make a flat brass blank. Lay the template on sheet brass and scribe the pattern. Aviation snips work well for cutting out. Flatten blank out by hammering. Align the blank on the steel template and use a felt tip pen to highlight "overruns", which can then be removed by sanding or filing. Exact size is important for a neat aglet. Make sure that the edges are smooth.

To make the holes, put the steel template on top of the blank, hold firmly, and center punch (spring-loaded center punches are nice) through the holes to make prick holes in the blank. Use a drill press or Tandy's jewelry punch (#2427 or 2432). Clean up hole roughness (deburr).

Magic Pliers:

Forming your cones: Forming the point: Smoothing the seam: Attaching the brass aglet to a braid or leather strip:

Eyelet Making

Awl Method

Punch a hole in the cloth with an awl. Some fabrics may close up when the awl is removed. It helps to have a 12 D nail in the hole until the fabric "relaxes".

Optional: Dab on fabric glue -- the kind that doesn't dissolve off in the wash. Massage the glue in. The hole will shrink, then awl it open once again. The glue will still be damp. Warning: this may leave visible glue darkening around the hole that won't be covered by the stitching. On the plus side , this strengthens the hole for hard use. There is no proof this was done in period.

Take a 12 D nail and run it thru the glued hole. Follow this with a 20 D nail to enlarge the hole. Form and pinch the hole around the nail. Allow this to dry 12--24 hours with the nail in the hole. Then remove the nail.

Leather Punch Method

Use a leather punch to cut the desired hole size in the garment.

Optional: Glue the hole as above.


A metal grommet is not necessary for a good eyelet, and is not always found in existing period eyelets.

Metal rings were sometimes used around the hole under the sewing and in some cases, attached at one edge of the ring (for bodice lacing) and not sewn all the way around.

A type of medieval grommet is found on leather belts, but these are not documented on cloth. Modern grommets on cloth are not period, but can be disguised by oversewing them after application with buttonhole stitch.

Eyelet Sewing

Once eyelets are prepared, either by awl or punch, whether glued or unglued, buttonhole stitch is used to reinforce the hole. The Museum of London examples show two concentric rings of blanket stitch, one laid over the other. Alternately, an eyelet attachment for a sewing machine can be used to replace handstitching. Backing the eyelets up with lining fabric on the wrong side is a very good idea, as eyelets take a lot of stress.

(Special thanks to Peter Adams, Mistress Clare de Crecy, and Master Eldred Tremayne for their excellent Tournaments Illluminated article titled "Pens and Points: Medieval Copper Alloy Cones" in the Winter 1993, XXVIII, Issue 109.)

Lacing your clothes on

There are two prominent lacing styles used from the 13th to 15th centuries:

The Spiral

A single lacing cord starts at the bottom (or top) of two opposing edges and spirals up (or down) through the eyelets to the end. The cord has one end finished with a metal chape and one end knotted. At the beginning, the chape end is threaded back through the cord inside to hold it in place. It must be removable if knotted in place, of course. A popular variation of the spiral skips eyelets and is left spread open.

Eyelet placement is not identical for the right and left sides. One side starts 1/2 a repeat offset. If the eyelets are the same on both sides, the top and bottom edges would not be even.

The Double Eyelet

The Double Eyelet system actually consists of a double set of eyelets on the garment edges that are going to be joined by a point or aglet. The point or aglet is a short braid with both ends finished with a metal chape. This lacing style is very often used on men's doublet fronts and -- most popularly -- for holding their hose to their doublet bottoms. The point is threaded through the underneath garment so both ends feed forward to the outer garment. It is tied off with a bowe knot, where one loop is pulled all the way through. This makes an easy release knot, for obvious reasons.

Less often used closures

The Criss Cross

Curiously, the use of criss cross lacing is relatively late. It can be seen in Italian Renaissance paintings. The criss cross takes more braid length than the spiral and is more time-consuming to lace, which may account for its lack of popularity early in the period.

The Frog (not a period term)

Red and white "spotted" silk braid in V&A's T.313-1960 - illustrated on page 221, Janet Arnold's Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd.

Contact with the East (possibly the Turkoman Empire and also with the Poles, who adopted Turkoman costume) resulted in closures using the "frog" and button style. One of these knot-like braid arrangements is sewn into manuscript T above the "every edge shall keep its color" pattern.

Also, there was a frog type closure used in England called "the Polish style", see Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, pages 136--137.

A decorative knot of gold braid is also shown in this book, page 278, and in Ashelford, pg 66.

"A knot made from narrow gold braid, possibly a true love knot of passmane lace of venice gold." Coarse multistrand brading, could be fingerloop. - Museo de Valencia de don Juan, Madrid (Arnold, Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd.)

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