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MoonDragon's Medieval Costumes
by Magistra Rosemounde of Mercia


Slits are often called vents. Slits are found at necklines, sides at the hem, and underarms to allow ease of movement, ingress and egress. A broach (or hook) is commonly used at neckline slits.

neckline vent


Lacings are often combined with slits and are used frequently at necklines, sides of garments, up the back or front of gowns, on pants fronts, and on boots. Laces can be drawn through eyelets or loops, or wrapped around lacing hooks (available at fabric stores).

Neckline Vent with Lacing Through Eyelets.

Side Vent with Lacing Through Loops.

Gown Back with Lacing Around Lacing Hooks.


Eyelets may be hand bound or embroidered (I prefer doing mine by hand). Eyelets are lovely but time consuming. Metal eyelets can be put in with a special pliers tool quickly, but are less authentic, especially in early garments. Also special care should be taken to avoid having the material ravel away from the eyelet. Some sewing machines make eyelets (tiny buttonhole setting that will not ravel).


Ties can be used anywhere. In the earlier periods they were combined with slits. Later they were used as much for decoration as function. Ties were almost always what was used for garters.

Neckline Vent with ties.
Italian sleeve c. 1490.


Drawstrings are used in waistbands, necklines and cuffs. A drawstring affect can be achieved with elastic, which allows easier ingress and egress to the garment, but does not always look quite the same. A good "chest" version with elastic can be achieved by sewing a drawstring to each end of an appropriate length of elastic (1). Then insert the elastic into your casing with the drawstring pieces coming out the ends. Stitch the elastic at the ends (2). The drawstrings can then be tied. Since the elastic with stretch, there will be no need to ever tie or untie the strings when putting on or taking off the garment (3).


Hooks can be used singly at a neckline, on cuffs or shoes. In groups they can be used for back closures, pants fronts, etc. Grouped hooks can be bought in tape form (called hook tape) at fabric stores. Be sure when sewing on hook tape to lap the edges of the fabric over it to cover evenly from both sides. It should look like a seam when finished.

Hook Tape sewn to look like topstitched seam.


Buttons are used like hooks, but are more versatile as they are decorative as well as being functional. They were used in the later periods as pure decoration as on slashes in doublets, etc.

Early buttons were horn, shell, bone, wood, gold, silver, bronze, and copper. Later, buttons of polished gemstones, ivory, pearls, brass and knotted fabric were added to the list. Covered buttons as they now exist were probably not known. Buttons could be one holed (like beads), two, three, or four holed, or shank. Shank came to be te most popular from about 1300 on.

Cotehardie with rows of buttons down front and sleeves.



Bound buttonholes are most authentic, but a bit more difficult. Fabric stores sell a bound buttonhole maker with instructions that works on any machine and eliminates a lot of the hassle. Machine buttonholes do not look too bad, and they do not show when covered by the button.


Hand crocheted button loops are great of course and terribly authentic. However, elastic loops by the yard (look in the bridal section of cloth shops) look pretty good, open and close easily and are eminently more practical for long runs of buttons.

Knotted fabric button.


Buckles were most likely developed from the fibule type broach. They were used during the medieval periods on bolts, baldrics, shoes, and kilts. They were very common on armor. Generally made of metal, they could be anywhere from quite simple to very ornate.

Kilt buckle with leather straps.


It is debatable whether or not snaps are in period. A crude kind of snap was probably used during the cavalier period, but it is not likely that it looked anything like the ones we have today. However, if well disguised, snaps may be a convenient closure for you. They can be especially handy for faking buttons. Snaps come in card form like hooks, available at fabric stores, or singly.

Button backed with snaps.


Velcro is an alternative to snaps. It is easy to use and very easy to open and shut, so easy in fact that it should not be used on high stress points. It is also somewhat expensive.


SCA Clothing & Costume Links
RedDawn's Pages for Faire Costumes
The Garb Bag: Fantasy Costuming Links
Making A Shield
The Perfect Armor Improved: Water Hardened Leather
Apprentice Armorer's Illustrated Handbook
Care & Cleaning of ChainMaille
Production Mail Techniques
How To Make A Coif
Footwear of the Middle Ages
Making Shoes
Chaperon's and How To Make Them
Costuming 101: The Cowl
Real Whips: How To Make Your Own Whip
Some Clothing of the Middle Ages
Medieval Clothing
Lothene: Costumes of Medieval Times Medieval Costume Links
Costume Page: Medieval History
StitchWitch Medieval Links
Sunara Clothing & Accessories Goodies Page

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