Braid Design and Finishing
This page is part of the Fingerloop Braids Website.
Once you have learned the patterns for the braids in this manual (or
if you just want to braid a three-strand pigtail braid or an eight
strand braid with unlooped elements), you'll want to use them. There
are several things to consider in planning your braid:
The diameter and length of the braid
The diameter of the braid is controlled both by the number of elements
in the braid pattern and by the size of each individual element. An
element can consist of several thinner threads acting together. The
diameter must coordinate with the size of the casing or eyelet for
ease of use.
The diameter of the hole (eyelet or casing) it will be going through.
Experimentation is sometimes needed for a perfect fit between hole and
Braid end treatment to prevent fraying, stiffen ends for insertion and/or
decorate exposed ends
For Points, Aglets or Chapes (all period terms for a braid with two
metal encased ends.) The tapered metal ends were generally made of
brass or of tin plated iron. They were often used for the
double-eyelet system of closures.
For laces used on bodices, etc: one end of these braids is finished
with a metal chape, while the other end is finished with a bulky knot
that will not pass through the eyelet hole.
For hat laces: the ends often had decorative tassels applied to finish
them. Hat laces (fastening under the chin and going around the crown)
are seen on both red Cardinal's hats, straw workers hats and on the
common bycocket (robin hood style hat).
For purse strings: the two ends that pass through the purse casing
(there were two sets of purse strings in each casing, one pulling from
each side) were knotted together and often finished with a knotted
tassel; this could be increased in size with additions of more thread
for the tassel.
Seal tag braids to hold wax seals to parchment rolls may have had simple
whipped or knotted ends, which also applies to braids used as a
"sliding cord" for leather cases with tops that slide up
Appropriate material choice.
Reeled silk was popular. This means that the fiber length was removed
from the cocoons in an unbroken filament many yards long. About fifty
of these very fine strands were combined for a single thread which was
then "thrown" (slightly twisted) with another single thread of very
fine strands. This made a very strong braiding element that was also
very lustrous and smooth.
Gold thread was used for ostentatious braid for the rich and very
popular. Often used with silk.
Worsted wool is also a possible choice, with at least one rather
coarse braid being found in the London digs.
Linen yarn is another possible choice for linen garments and
undergarments, though virtually none has survived.
Leather should not be overlooked for points on everyday or hard
wearing applications. It was legislated that goat or deerskin
(wildware) be used for this purpose22. Both are fine
grained, tough and stretchy.
Elizabethan and later points could be made from ribbon or silk fabric
(either used flat, hemming the sides or sewn into a tube, gathering
the ends to fit into a metal chape.)
The braid patterns in the earliest European manual are described in
heraldic terms. Where color pictures exist for them or where there
are color instructions, heraldic color choices are a good path to
take. Strong contrasts were preferred. Red was very popular for hose
points. Multiple color patterns were often seen on purse strings.
Return to the index.
Webbed by Greg Lindahl