Snaps are one of our favorite closures. They're small yet sturdy, like a cute little Corgi dog. But there's not always a lot of variety from which to choose. You can usually find nickel or brass, and the Western favorite: pretty pearl head snaps, every once in awhile, maybe a rhinestone alternative. But that's where the decorative options usually ended. So when Babyville snaps hit the market a few years ago, their bright colors and cute cover designs were an instant hit. They were immediately snapped up for their decorative flair. We've used them on several Sew4Home projects, and now we have a full tutorial dedicated to showing you just how easy they are to insert.
If you've used metal snaps before, and uttered words your mama wouldn't like to hear, you'll find these Babyville versions easier to work with. But, to make sure you're well-rounded (and mama's happy), you may want to review our handy tutorial on inserting metal snaps. It will take a lot of the frustration out of the process. We also have a handy summary article with our top ten closure tutorials, featuring snaps and more.
Our thanks to Babyville for providing us with a selection of their snaps and tools. You can find the full line of Babyville products at in-store and online retailers everywhere, from these snaps to super-cute PUL to buttons, elastics, appliqués, and more.
And remember, Babyville is not just for babies. Several of their design groups would work for any age.
Follow the easy steps below to begin your snap-o-mania. Yep, it's addicting. Soon, everything will be in need of a snap!
The snap parts
A complete snap assembly has four parts: two covers, the socket, and the stud. Because Babyville snaps use a finished cover on both halves, the snap set is reversible.
We like how the snaps are packaged with the sockets and the studs each in their own mini bags inside the main bag that contains all the covers.
You can select from a wide variety of covers – both plain colors as well as cute embossed designs, from hearts and flowers to turtles and robots.
The majority of the Babyville snaps come in the most common size 20, which equates to just under ½" (12mm) in diameter.
The snap pliers
The Babyville Snaps must be put in with the Babyville Snap Pliers. These pliers have been specially designed to work with the plastic snaps to allow for easy, secure insertion without damage to the surface of the snap covers.
The pliers themselves come factory-set with the shank, rubber pressing head and die tray in place for the most common size 20 snaps.
You also get die trays for both size 16 and size 24 snaps, as well as a thicker shaft set up with the pressing head for size 24 (the shank and pressing head for the size 20 snaps will also work for size 16).
In addition, there are two extra rubber pressing heads (one in each size), an awl for poking holes, and a screwdriver to use when changing the shank.
We are not addressing how to change the shank here, but there are full directions within the plier packaging. It's a quick and easy process.
Preparing your fabric
- Gather up your elements and let's get snapping.
- If you are using just a single layer of fabric and/or a lighter-weight fabric, it's best to add a bit of interfacing to strengthen the area and provide stability for repeated snapping and unsnapping.
Marking your fabric
- Decide on your snap placement. If you're using a pattern, the snap positioning will likely be specified. If not, simply measure based on where you want the center point of snap cover. As when working with buttons, don't forget to base your final spacing on the full width of the snap cover to insure you've left enough room between each snap.
- Using a fabric pen or pencil, mark the center of each part of the snap. For extra accuracy, you may want to make these centering marks on both the front and back of your fabric.
Installing the snap socket
- Using the provided awl, gently poke a hole through the fabric at the marked center point.
- Insert a pronged cover through the hole, working from the front through to the back.
- Place a socket over the exposed prong.
- Slip the snap halves into the pliers. The cover should sit against the black die tray and the socket should face the rubber pressing head. You will hear a "click" as the cover drops into the tray; this lets you know it has been properly seated.
- Squeeze the pliers together. Remember, you are working with plastic not metal. You don't need super-human pressure; just press the handles all the way closed.
- Remove the fabric from between the pliers and you'll see the prong has been squashed down, securing the socket in place.
- Continue in this manner to place all the sockets needed for your project.
Installing the snap stud
- The opposite half of the snap inserts using the same method. The most important step is marking.
- Place your completed socket half in its finished position - this likely means it will be overlapping the fabric panel into which you'll be inserting the studs. Use the socket as the guide for the placement of the stud.
- You can simply "eyeball it" (one of our favorite methods). Or, you can press the socket into the opposite fabric until it creates an impression, then place a mark at that impression point before it disappears. We've heard of some folks who like to place a tiny bit of ink on the socket before pressing down to create that impression in the opposite fabric. This gives you an easier way to clearly see the marking.
- As above, make a hole at the marked center point, insert the cover prong through the hole from front to back...
- place the stud over the prong...
- insert into the pliers, and press closed to secure. As above, the cover is against the black tray, the stud is facing the rubber pressing head.
- Repeat to place all the stud halves of the snap sets.
- Snap together and you have pretty covers on both sides.
With snaps, it's not uncommon to get less-than-perfect results the very first time. Make sure you have extra snaps in the size you'll be using for your project. Take a scrap of your project fabric, fold it and add interfacing just like you would for your project.
- For example, in the test below, we made a sample "strap." First we placed test sockets.
- Then secured them with the pliers.
- And, inserted the studs.
- Because all the snaps fit together perfectly, so you can even mix and match colors for a decorative effect.
After you've successfully installed a few tests on your scrap, go ahead and install on your actual project.
Now... snap to it!