Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Eyes Have it!

A new toy in my sewing box made me take a fresh approach to looking at eyelets as found in 18th century original stays.

This toy was purchased at Home Depot, a micrometer. Never knew I needed one, but don't know how I did research with out it! This handy gadget measures the smallest amount, in either inches or mm, and gives new meaning to stitch counter, now I can count the width of a thread and each individual stitch, accurately. Under $30.00, a must have for the totally crazed.

So armed with my new toy, and a camera with a good macro lens, off to the stays!

This first image is a close up of the eyelet, taken from the right side of the stays, these stays are 3rd Quarter 18thc. ( to be clear, these images are taken from original stays, not reproductions).


Entire Eyelet-Edge to Edge 8.40mm
Eyelet Opening:3.80mm
Whipped Edge: 2.30mm
Thread: 0.34mm, unbleached linen
Stays Fabric: unbleached linen

It is visible in this enlarged image that the threads are doubled as they are whipped around the eyelet hole, it is also very visible that the hole opening is whipped and that the buttonhole stitch is not used.

Comparing Threads

Now that I have a base line width of the thread used to make this eyelet, I went to my stash of linen threads to find a close match.

These are the threads from left to right, I did not bother to measure my fine linen threads, as only the thicker ones came close to the original threads.

Halfbleached: 0.20mm
Unbleached: 0.23mm
Bleached (ball): 0.35 mm Winner!!!!

In the past I have often used all three of the these threads for making eyelets, and they all make a nice eyelet, but it looks like the 0.35 is going to be the go to thread, which I have in bleached and unbleached.

Just for fun I will make a series of eyelets using all three threads and try to approximate the original eyelet. Next post..


  1. Wow! This is fascinating! It's high time we started looking at more costume pieces in such detail. Thanks for sharing your discoveries, and I'm looking forward to the thread comparison post!

  2. I want a micrometer calibrated finely enough to measure thread diameters!

  3. I purchased on of those cheap ones because it did fractions, and so I wouldn't have to keep borrowing my husbands much more expensive pair. They came in handy when I measured the bone/ivory eyelets on my 1820-40's stays, though I bought them for the 1869 skeleton corset busk project. Huh funny I have only used mine in relation to the study of original corsets!

  4. I've been looking all over for this information! Was the same thread used for the boning casings as the eyelets do you think? It looks like it may have been from the photo, but I can't tell. I have a spool of 16/2 unbleached linen thread from Wm. Booth's that I thought of using for my stays but I was worried it was too thick...from this post, I'm thinking it might be just about spot on. Have you taken thread measurments on any other extent 18th century stays for comparison?

  5. I love this tool. I've had one for years, for woodworking. They are very versatile. I had to laugh when my expensive one from the hardware store broke (My son tried to use it as a screwdriver.), I grabbed his toy micrometer which came in a set of "Home Depot" toy tools, it was more accurate than the one I had been using. I suggest storing the tool with a packet of dissecant. My original tool had lost it's accuracy because of very fine rust spots.


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