I've used prong style snaps on a few things lately, and a couple people wrote asking some questions about using them. So here is some info if you are curious about using them (see the sequel to this post here).
This won't go over the basic installation instructions, because whatever tool you use will come with its own instructions. This is more about the snaps in general, some tools you can use to install them, the pliers I use, and some other tips from my own experience.
These snaps are fantastic for a bunch of reasons:
- Economical - Packaged snaps run about $3.50 - $4.50 for sets of 10 - 12. If you buy them online, you can sometimes get even better prices if you buy them in larger quantities.
- Easy to Find - The Dritz ones are very widely available and I see more and more of the Snap Source snaps in shops. Just about every fabric store has at least a small selection of snaps.
- Variety - They come in a variety of sizes/styles/colors. Some are really basic, and a bunch are more decorative. The size refers to the size of the cap. The larger the number, the bigger the cap. Personally, I like the "jumbo" size 24 ones for accessories. The Snap Source Long-Prong jumbo snaps are my current favorite.
- Washable - Most can be machine washed and are rust proof. The package generally states "machine washable" if you need this feature.
- Replaceable - If one happens to have a problem, remove it and replace it.
- Quick to Install - It takes under a minute to add them once you have the process down. Usually they'll go on at the very end of your project, and it is just very satisfying to get them on so quickly and be done!
There are four parts:
1. Cap (aka: Decorative Prong) - Top of the snap.
2. Socket - Accepts the stud and also holds the cap in place.
3. Stud - Goes in the socket.
4. Open-Prong Ring - Holds the stud in place.
There are different options for installing them. Sometimes you can find kits with a basic tool included, but usually you'll need a separate tool or method of applying them. Here are some options:
- No Tool - I've heard of people using a wooden spool and a hammer. It sounds like no fun to me and isn't a method I'd personally recommend or try. But hey, if want to try it, go for it! Most methods just need some practice to get used to and this low tech, and inexpensive option, might be just what you need.
- Plastic Snap Installation Tools - Perhaps these have a name? All I know is they are not my favorite snap setting tool. Several years ago when I bought my first snaps, I went ahead and bought the plastic tools for 3 sizes of snaps (each size requires its own special attachment). Then I proceeded to smash the top of every snap I used them on. I don't like them, but do think with more practice I might have made it beyond the smashing stage. However, for the price of multiple tools and all the practice time, I still think the next option makes more sense...
- Dritz Snap Pliers - This is the next step on the snap tool ladder, and perfect for anyone who uses snaps occasionally to fairly regularly. The pliers cost around $20 and are widely available. They are useful for several snaps sizes and styles, and also install eyelets.
- Snap Press - This is the pinnacle of snap installation. If you use snaps regularly, this is probably what you'll eventually need. These snaps are very addicting, so you could find yourself at the snap press stage pretty quickly. I don't really know much about snap presses. Perhaps someone with a press will leave a comment and tell us a little about them.
- Kit with Tool - I haven't tried out these heavy duty snaps yet, but they came with a tool similar to what you might use to install a grommet.
So these are what I have and here are some general tips for using them:
Before opening the package, write the snap sizes on the back with the instructions.
The text showing the sizes is under the plastic part of the package and rips off with the plastic.
For the longest time, I had no idea what size snaps these worked with besides #16! Guess I could have looked at a picture of them online, but I didn't. When I went to Bolt the other day, I spent some time looking at the package front and discovered they also worked with "jumbo" snaps.
Keep the instructions. I still look at them every time, but I'm getting closer to having it down. If I don't use them for several months though, I'll probably forget.
Don't lose the yellow adapter. This is what you need for larger snaps. It is just a tiny plastic part, so keep it safe. After looking at the pliers at Bolt, I thought for sure I'd lost the yellow adapter, since I hadn't seen it since opening the package 2+ years ago. But it was in my sewing room and now it's being stored with the pliers and snaps.
Load the pronged parts into the pliers last. Then you won't scratch up your fingers when you load the stud or socket parts. Learned this the hard way...and it took multiple snaps to finally get it.
Sometimes you might find they need just a little more squeeze after you've installed them. Cover the snap with a scrap of fabric or batting and give them another pinch around the edges using regular pliers.
You might also keep a practice snap installed on a scrap of fabric with your snap tools and parts for reference. It's helpful to have an installed one to look at if you get confused about the parts.
Pay attention to the socket. This piece is the part I had a hard time seeing which side is which. Now I know that the part that looks like a flower is the side the stud goes into and the other side is where the prongs enter to hold it in place.
The last bit of advice I have is to consider where these will be placed. The pouch in the photos above has quite a long flap, so my first attempt at adding the snaps to the pouch portion was tricky.
They needed to be placed fairly low down on the pouch so I had to get a lot of fabric into the pliers. It was not easy, but now I see that folding the fabric down helps a lot.
Just keep in mind there will only be so much fabric you can get into the pliers to install the snap parts. The eyelet installation part gets in the way and there is only so much space in the pliers. The closer the snaps can be to the edge, the easier it is going to be to install them.