Greetings medieval steeds! Tonight I bring you a step by step how-to on attaching snaps. I even have some diagrams attempting to show the anatomy of snaps because to tell the truth, I don’t have a very hard time attaching snaps… it’s attaching them with all the pieces in the right place that trips me up! This morning I woke up and put on a short white skirt and a cowgirl-esque button up shirt with mother of pearl buttons and I had a hankering for some leather jewelry so I raided my stash of 10 yards of leather strips, attached some snaps, slid an old belt buckle into the strappy hot mess and sallied forth.
What can I say? I love the look of cuffs. I’m practically magpie-esque on this issue!
Let’s get on with the snap setting, shall we?
This little project didn’t require a lot in the way of supplies.
Leather strips, scissors to cut the strips down to size, snaps,
a snap setting tool and a hammer.
Anatomy of a snap
Here are the parts of a snap. There are four parts that attach to
create a snap – two for each piece of material that you are
connecting. I’m using a traditional snap that has a solid
round cap with a ring on the backside. In the
photo below, I’ve laid out the four pieces showing both sides of
each piece. The snaps towards the bottom are ‘right’ side up,
the ones towards the top are ‘wrong’ side up – that
distinction is a bit arbitrary, though.
The working parts of the snap – the parts that stick together –
are the ‘stud’ and the ‘socket’. For the type of snap I’m using,
the ‘cap’ holds the socket to the fabric and the ‘post’/ring’ holds
the stud to the fabric.
Here’s my awesome photoshop sketch! Pretend that the pink lines are
some nice fabric. Here I’m showing how the pieces fit together
from the side.
A closer look at the cap and socket.
A closer look at the stud and post/ring.
Let’s talk size
Snaps come in different sizes, similar to buttons. I believe
the sizes refer to the diameter in millimeters. Below
I’ve sat a size 16 and 24 snap cap side by side. With the
snap system I’m using, only the snap caps differ in size – the other
three pieces are size 16, but work with all the different
snap cap sizes. A size 16 snap is what you would commonly
find on a hipster-style button up shirt. OK, with any
button up shirt. You know.
The snap setting tool
We carry the Snap Source line of snaps and accessories at
the shop and I really like how they work. It’s fast, pretty
easy to keep everything in line and you get to whack’em with
a hammer, which feels satisfying but also makes sure those
pesky snaps get on TIGHT!
The snap setting tool is made up of three parts, held together
a jigsaw-like post and hole configuration.
Here I’ve removed the top piece. See the post?
Now I’ve separated all three pieces – the top, middle and base.
You can see that the post is attached to the base and there
is a circular snap guide on the opposite point of the base.
Remember the different sizes? Different sizes require different
base pieces. See below I’ve set out the size 16 and
24 bases. The middle and top pieces are interchangeable
and used for all sizes. There is also a mother of pearl
base that I’m eager to try out.
Attaching the cap and socket
First I’m going to attach the cap and socket to my
leather strip. As a reminder, I’ve circled
these pieces in green below. It’s helpful to have
something with snaps already attached as a reference
while you’re attaching your own snaps. It’s very easy
to attach the socket upside down or to attach the cap on
the inside of your project!
OK, Ima just going to pretend you’re doing this
with me, K? Here we have our cap and socket as
well as examples of properly attached snaps.
You can see that my leather has right and wrong
sides. The right side looks like what my skin will
probably look like in another 10 years and the
wrong side is more leather-fuzzy. I want my
cap to show on the ‘right’ side of my leather strip.
I noted the steps directly on the photos, so I’ll
only chime in if I forgot something! Note that I
am using the size 24 base for the cap!
Once you give the setter a couple of good whacks, slide
the setter pieces apart and inspect your work. Snaps
should be attached VERY tightly – barely enough
room to slide a fingernail between your snap and your material.
If you missed (hey, it happens) or prongs are sticking
out where they shouldn’t be, use your seam
ripper or a small, thin screwdriver
to work the snap parts apart and toss ‘em. Even
if they look fine, they won’t work!
Attaching the stud and post/ring
Now let’s move on to the stud and the post/ring, shall me?
My leather jools
Here’s what I rigged up – two shorter straps that wrap around my
wrists three or so times and a longer strap that wraps around
my neck a whole buncha times. I also found a little buckle
the perfect size and slid that on on as well to add to
the general bondage theme I have going on.
This was super fun and I’m thinking of doing something
similar with mother-of-pearl snaps and some wide
vintage crocheted trim I have! Even if the project’s
not to your taste, I hope the anatomy of
a snap drawing is helpful because I SLAVED over
that one! My first attempt looked like four
beached sea turtles. Tragic.
Here’s how I ended up wearing my new not-bling. Even though
I love the idea of chokers, I ended up wearing
one of the shorter strips as my necklace and I wore the longer
piece intended as a necklace around my wrist.
So there you have it, my knightly mounts! Jewelry helpful for lashing an Ikea haul to the roof of my Subaru or fending off knife attack with my clever wrists (OK, my understanding of vambraces and other armor is based on extensive reading of fantasy literature…)
I love your new jewellery! 🙂 And I've never been able to do snaps. That tool looks really handy.
Thank you for your very helpful visual and very explanatory directions! I never knew that other than the caps, all the other pieces are 16s!
Thank you again!
That snap tool looks really handy. I really like your tutorials! So detailed!
great tutorial! and i love the cuffs!
That is SO helpful! I was wondering if I needed to get a SnapSetter or not, and now I know I do. Looks like it will cut down on the cussing and mis-whacking I do when using the Dritz version. (MAN, I hate that thing!)
I'm coveting your cuff! Thanks for the great tute, doll!
Sweet! Might I also suggest using buttons? You just have to cut a slit for a buttonhole and then stitch on a button with heavy-duty thread. It's a nice way to use chunky one-of-a-kind vintage buttons in an accessory that doesn't require washing.
Now I want to leave work early and go through my leather scrap stash.
I for one, love my Snap Setter. I thought, for sure, when I was thinking of buying, that it was a gimmick. But I spoke with the woman on the phone (great customer service), she convinced me to try it, and I've used it so many times to great effect. It's a bit finicky, but for a totally affordable gizmo, it's a great addition to my aresenal. Esp. as a woman who doesn't feel tremendously comfortable about sewing buttons.
Thank you for that! I had a heck of a time figuring out snaps before this. I’m making a leather bracelet for my boyfriend and if it wasn’t for your super helpful little photo essay here, its closure would be an old bra hook and eye (he could have used the practice, though).
Does the snap tool work on real leather too? or just faux leather?