Setting Snaps vs. Sewing Buttonholes
I mentioned in at least one place on this site that I'm not too fond of making buttonholes and sewing on buttons. My sewing machine (a Singer 3343c ) has automatic buttonhole stitches, and I have a button sewing presser foot. Between the two, it's made buttonholes and buttons a bit more doable. But when a cousin sent me a bunch of set in snaps and a Dritz snap tool, I was hooked on snaps!
When I was first checking out the patterns at BirchStreet Clothing, I was happy to see that they generally design for snaps, not buttons. They also sell some nice looking decorative snaps on their site. It's been great having patterns built for snaps, like the spiral jumper. If you're buttonhole challenged like I am (though I'll do 'em if I have to, like the front button jumper), read on.
How to use Dritz Snap Tool
The tool I have is this one that Joann.com sells:
If you go to their page, you'll see a lot of reviews panning the tool. If you're like me, you may only have a Dritz snap tool, or that may be the only one you can find. I actually used to do much better with the tool, but recently seem to mess up a lot of snaps. This gets to be a price problem, as decorative snaps are not cheap. Add to that many rural areas don't carry any set in snaps, and I really don't want to lose snaps to mistakes! So let's go over the instructions that are sent with the Dritz snap tool, and try to get it right.
The instructions -- not intuitive, but they work
There are definitely times when my snaps don't work. So I reviewed the instructions and set two snaps for this review. One was a ring snap, the other a flat decorative snap. I used a plain scrap of fabric for this demo. Remember, if you are going to practice, you should do so on a sample that includes the layers you will actually be setting a snap in. That is, including interfacing and/or facing. Here's a scanned image of the instructions on the back of the package. Mind you, I've had my Dritz for over 10 years now, so forgive the wear.
Click on the image for a really too large file of the instructions in English. I didn't keep the French part, though the package includes them.
Okay, here we go.
- "Lift plastic platform and turn until yellow plastic holder snaps into place." Shouldn't be any confusion there. Mine actually came that way.
- "Stretch rubber rings around plastic and metal holders." They mean the top and bottom snap applying holders, as shown. Don't try to stretch the rubber over the eyelet metal puncher as well as the plastic snap holder!
- "Mark snap positions on topside and underside of garment." Don't skip this, it will keep your snaps lined properly.
Setting the Sockets (A in the picture above)
- "Insert decorative/ring prong into holder with prongs exposed." According to their picture, that means putting the decorative side or ring in the plastic holder which is on the side with the eyelet prong. In their image, that's the bottom.
- "Insert socket into metal holder -- with raised center exposed." Okay, the "metal holder" is the one that is on the opposite side of the tool. Only one holder there. The socket really does have one side that is slightly more raised than the other. Feel your socket carefully, then make sure the raised side is facing out when you put it in the rubber bit that holds the socket in place.
- "Position garment in pliers with decorative prong on outside of garment." Do this with both eyes open! You don't want the socket on the outside of the garment. Now, something very important I learned with my stud/rhinestone setter is that these kinds of tools are very, very picky about everything being exactly centered and level. The rubber keeps things well centered, so take your fingers and just before you position the pliers, make sure that both sides are level, especially the prong side.
- "Squeeze pliers firmly. Check for tightness, squeeze again, if necessary." Well, if you blew it, you've got prongs splayed outside the socket, and no extra squeezing will put them back in. If you see that there are no prongs sticking out, congratulations! My biggest tip here, is again, check that the parts are level and centered before squeezing. Okay, we're half way there.
This is what the Dritz tool looks like if you've got a decorative snap top set for application. If you are using only rings, the ring prong would be where the pronged snap fixture is on the bottom in the "plastic holder".
This is the "outside" where the ring or decorative snap is set.
This is the underside where the socket is attached to the ring or decorative snap.
For Stud (B in the picture above)
- "Insert ring prong into metal holder -- with points exposed." The "metal holder" is the one on the side opposite the eyelet prong, where there is only one holder. It's covered in rubber at this point, remember, so it may not be intuitive that it's metal.
- "Insert stud into plastic holder, -- ball side down." It actually fits that way, and you feel confident since this seems intuitive. Now, take a deep breath and be very, very cautious on the next step.
- "Position garment in pliers with ring prong on underside of garment." Note: Be very, very sure which side is up in your pliers, otherwise you will have a prong facing the underside of your garment, instead of facing the opposing snap.
An example of the topside of the snaps
The snap sides snap together firmly, and don't rip out of the fabric when done properly. If you find that you have prongs sticking out of either side, the snap won't hold.
I find the most confusing part is setting the prong. Often I end up having to orient the Dritz snap tool a couple of times before squeezing. Take your time, make sure the prong will be on the correct side of the fabric (the outside). When I blow it, I use my seam ripper to get under the prong and wiggle an edge out. Then I try again!
You can purchase the Dritz snap tool online in a couple of places, including Joann.com. They also carry a wide array of decorative snaps.
Another online source for snap tools is at www.CreateForLess.com. They carry the Dritz Snap Heavy Duty Attacher, Easy Attacher Kit, Plier Kit Snap and Eyelet Fastener, the Dritz Plier Kit, The Jumbo Fastener Tool Kit, the Dritz Color Snap tool, and the Dritz Anorak Snap tool. Their prices seem to be a bit cheaper than Joann.com. I've never used any of the other tools, and there seem to be some complaints on Joann.com about tools breaking after a few uses. That certainly doesn't happen with the plier tool, just follow directions and work slowly with the Dritz snap tool.
Another great place to find a bargain on snap setters is eBay.com. Bid only as much as you're willing to pay. If you win the auction, the snap setter is yours at your price: