HSM 2018: Challenge 4 - Buttons and Fastenings

April Challenge 4 - BUTTONS AND FASTENINGS: Create an item where the closures are the star of the show. This challenge could be opportunity to learn new skill or excuse to spend many hours working on buttons for simple garment. Let´s see what can we make by ourselves:

Lacing strings and cords made by fingerloop braiding were used at least from middle ages till 17th century. Fronts of gown were laced close, bags and purses were closed by drawstrins, sleeves were connected with body, doublets with breeches … all done by laces. Unlike for lucet cords, you need only thread, your finger and patience for fingerloop braiding. Kyle Sfhandyman made handy video tutorial for begginers and excelent list of original historical patterns with clear modern descriptions are on Silkewerk webpage by Cindy Myers.

Detail of fringerloop braided string on 17th century purse, Victoria & Albert Museum

Simple self fabric buttons were used from medieval period till 17th century, you need nothing more than scraps of fabric, thead and needle. Leimomi Oakes from The Dreamstress has writen nice blogpost about such type of buttons.

Detail of small cloth or metal buttons on 14th effigy, Frankfurt am Main

During 18th century fabric button changed its shape from circular to flat due to wooden or bone mold placed inside. Making such button is simple, as you can see in Burnley and Trowbridge video. If you have trouble obtain special button mold, you can substain it with modern wooden button of convenient shape (only reason why those molds have one hole in center instead od two or four holes is because it was easier to made). Flat side of button was great place for thread or even bead embroidery, which was done prior cutting fabric.

Embroidered coat, 1780-1790, Metropolitan Museum of Art, detail

Thread wrapped butons were popular for centuries. They usually need hard core (bead or flat disc) to be wrapped around. Bránn Mac Finnchad from Matsukaze Workshop made good video tutorial for buttons from Elizabethan period. He is using felted ball instead of wooden bead, it is not historically accurate but solves problem with access to correctly sized beads ;-).

Doublet, 1610´s, Swiss Museum, detail

Death-head button is period name for one type of thread wrapped buttons in 18th century. Gina B from Silkworks made great video tutorial on them. For this button you need wooden or bone mold, it could not be substituted by regular button unless you drill hole in center of it.

Raiding Coat, 1750´s, Victoria & Albert Museum, detail

So far we deal with buttons intended for outerwear, but there were buttons on body linen too. They needed to be washable and durable, buttons made from linen thead were perfect answer to these needs. It is fascinating how hard can be button made according tutorial written by Hannah Stoppel from Fabric & Fiction.

Dorset buttons were usually made from thread woven around thin ring and were popular from 17th until 20th century for body and bed linen. A lot of patterns were used, tutorial from Handmade Crafts features the most common type called "cartwheel" (just stick to white thread for historial use).

Horatio Nelson´s shirt, prior 1805, Royal Museums Greenwich

Every button need either lopp (f.e. from fingerbraided cord) or buttonhole. Making historical accurate buttonholes is nightmre for many. Bránn Mac Finnchad made stunning research on button holes developemnet and video tutorial for Elisabethan buttonholes (left handed). Stuart Lilie from Fort Ticonderoga made excelent video tutorials for common 18th century buttonholes and for fancier long buttonholes from same period.

Doublet, 1635 - 1640, Victoria & Albert Museum, detail

A lot of fastening were made from metal - pewter and brass buttons, buckles, steel busks for corsets, zippers. It is almost impossible to imitate them at home without access to well equiped workshop, but one item could be done quite easily - hooks and eyes from brass wire. Cathrin Ahlén from Katafalk posted photos from making hooks, I do believe you can figure out by yourselves, how eyes were made. Larger eyes could be used as lacing rings for late medieval and renaissance dresses.

Little girl with dead bird, 1500 - 1525, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, detail

America and Europe During 18th Century - main page
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