I’ve always wanted to buy a grommet/snap press but I really don’t do enough volume to justify the purchase. A few years ago, I discovered manual grommet setters from the C.S. Osborne Company. These are great quality tools, made to last, and are very reasonably priced (many under $20). Most of the applicator sets come with a hole punch but, for knits especially, I often prefer to use my revolving punch so that I can make smaller holes. The Osborne punch is fine on stable fabrics and leather. You’ll also want a rubber or rawhide mallet as a regular hammer can damage your tools.
The larger sizes are great for bags, shower curtains, etc. but my favorite is the size 00 (3/16″) as it is most useful for garment construction as shown here on Kwik-Sew 3120:
When using grommets (or eyelets) on knits there are a few things you’ll want to be aware of:
1. Make the smallest hole possible and stretch the fabric around the grommet. Otherwise, the grommet will come out later. This means that, if you are using the small eyelets commonly found at chain stores, you may just be snipping a thread or two to make a teeny hole. Practice on scraps to see which size works best with the fabric you’ve chosen.
This is the size hole I used for this project. My placket was interfaced and faced so I needed a slightly larger hole than I would have on one layer of plain fabric.
2. Use interfacing if at all possible (not shown in the following photos). You can also reinforce the hole with a small piece of cut-away embroidery stabilizer as shown below. If the back of the grommet will be visible you can trim away the excess so that it will be hidden once the grommet has been applied. If you’re using eyelets or the grommet back will be hidden you can just trim the excess stabilizer afterwards.
You can purchase the larger size Osborne grommet setters in the home dec. section of Jo Ann Fabrics. Other sizes can be purchased online at www.beaconfabric.com, Texas-LeatherCraft on Ebay or from Tandy Leather.