THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

October 11, 2006

Cool Tools – Grommet Setter

Filed under: Gigi,Notions,Tools — Gigi @ 8:38 am

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, Texas-LeatherCraft on Ebay or from Tandy Leather.



  1. Hey, I have one of those revolving ones … OK. The Hubby has one. But I can steal it … I have never seen him use it. Ever. This might make my grommets a lot nicer. The few I have tried turned out awful ..

    Love the top BTW! Wonderful fabric … the colours are great for you.

    Comment by Lorna Newman — October 11, 2006 @ 10:37 am

  2. Thank you for the grommet tutorial! I’ve done enough ren wear to have a LOT of grommets in my background but they still look as messy and pop out as easily as they did the first time I put them in. And I may still have the scar a stuck (cheap) grommet setter gave me. Yeah, I NEEDED this tutorial. Thank you for the introduction to new tools, showing how to make them work, and for proving that nice grommets are possible!

    Comment by Alicia — October 11, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  3. WelL! The grommet and lace up treatment is just what this busy print needed. I knew next to nothing about grommet ins and outs, too. Thanks, Gigi!

    Comment by Mary Beth — October 11, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

  4. That’s it, this goes on my shopping list when I get to NYC on Friday!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — October 11, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

  5. Drat….Here I was, all ready to part with the $$$ for one of those grommet/snap press thingeys that sits on a worktable – the kind that looks a little like a vise. And here you are, The Voice of Reason, saying there’s a less expensive toy that will do the job. Have you been talking to my husband?

    Comment by Karla — October 11, 2006 @ 5:59 pm

  6. I use grommets quite a bit (make custom corset style bridal gowns) and get all my stuff from, just so you have one more source.

    Also, I make my holes with an ice pick so the hole is very tiny, then stretch the fabric over the stud in the grommet setter.

    Great shirt, BTW, love the print!

    Comment by AlisaBenay — October 12, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

  7. Thanks for the tips and tricks! Now I need to get one of these :)Love the top!

    Comment by Maja — October 13, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  8. Great top! I love the fabric. Now what can I put grommets in? Hmmm . . . .

    Thanks for bringing this up – it’s a great design feature.

    Comment by Summerset — October 13, 2006 @ 6:27 am

  9. Please have pity on me, I am ignorant about sewing! I stumbled onto your website while researching how to make grommet topped curtains. I just invested a huge amount of money into fabric. If I’m going to make panels 54 X 84″ can I just put the grommets in or do I really need to invest in the grommet tape? If so, I can’t find a resource that had nice metal ones. I’ve seen plastic ones at Hancock but am just not in love with them. Please, please help me! Thanks.

    Comment by Elizabeth W — November 16, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

  10. Elizabeth, you will probably have to invest in the drapery grommet tape as most of the loose grommets are not large enough to fit over a curtain rod. They do make metal drapery grommets so you may want to do an online search – I haven’t seen them in any of the chain stores. Gigi

    Comment by Gigi — November 16, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

  11. I need to know how to remove grommets from jeans if it is even possible!!

    Comment by Michelle — November 18, 2006 @ 8:55 pm

  12. I am also making grommet top drapes and can’t find the larger grommets I need. Any help is appreciated.

    Comment by mary — February 10, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  13. Help!!

    I just bought fabric to do grommet curtains for my bedroom. I’m lining the fabric with another medium weight fabric, but I don’t know how far apart to place the grommets. Any ideas??

    Comment by Cathy — September 17, 2007 @ 9:22 pm

  14. Cathy, check out this website…might be of help in determining the placement of your grommets for the curtains.

    Comment by Anu — October 6, 2007 @ 10:45 am

  15. My experience with removing hammer set snaps and grommets is to place the metal fastener on edge on a small piece of 2×4, and hammer the bejesus out of it.
    The metal generally deforms and the fastener usually bangs apart before the fabric is damaged. . . of course,
    you could damage your fabric . . .

    Comment by Kakunka — November 20, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  16. For Mary and others – check out

    first, they have large grommets for drapes. Also though they sell a reasonably priced press for setting grommets and their grommets make their own holes! so I do not make a hole first – what a time saver. Yes – the little hand tool costs less, but it was costing me a lot more in time and mistakes. I think the CSTEP-1 or even the CSTEP-2 press is worth it.

    Comment by Lisa — June 5, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  17. […] DD didn’t like the bow front version, and wasn’t crazy for buttons, but when I suggested grommets instead that appealed to her edgey taste.  Gigi again has done an excellent tutorial on using grommets. […]

    Pingback by Spiderlily Patterns 12808: Bib & Bow top « The Sewing Divas — October 19, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  18. […] This is a close up, step-by-step how-to with much smaller grommets, as used on a ladies top: Cool Tools – Grommet Setter THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion Businesses that can install grommets may include leather working shops, marine shops, upholstery […]

    Pingback by GI: Fit 07-08, 09+ Clazzio Seat Covers - Page 13 - Unofficial Honda FIT Forums — October 11, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  19. shower curtains that are made from acrylic and polyester are the most durable ones, that is why we always use them _

    Comment by Magnesium Ascorbate : — October 31, 2010 @ 11:11 am

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