A Simple Guide On How To Sew Poppers Like A Pro

Snap! There are so many happy memories of childhood games and feeling good because you fit in and shout snap. The same feel-good feelings come with learning how to sew on snaps, otherwise called poppers, as they are an easy way to finish a garment and avoid stressful buttonhole making and problems. If you are here, it means you already know the value of these small items, and you are ready to learn how to sew poppers in no time!

male tailor holding snap buttons in hand

Is there anyone who doesn’t love that satisfying “pop” sound as they close a press stud on a beloved piece of clothing? Probably not! However, the prospect of inserting these studs can be a little intimidating as there are a few elements involved to get a nice finish, especially when it involves needles. Don’t worry; we are here with some top tips to assist with stress-free snap sewing. Without any further ado, let’s talk snaps!

Types of snap fasteners

In dressmaking, a popper (also called press stud, dome fastener, snap fasteners popper, kam snap or tich) is a pair of interlocking discs, commonly used in fastening clothes. A circular lip under one disc of the plastic or metal snap fits into a groove on the top of the other. This way, it is holding them fast until you apply a certain amount of force. Did you know that there is a variety of snap styles ranging from non-sew to sew-on to magnetic? You can attach different types of snaps to fabric or leather by riveting with a punch and die set specific to the type of rivet snaps used, plying with special snap pliers or sewing.

woman Setting a snap in pink french terry fabric with a piercing riveting tool

The snaps’ closure versatility and the various types available nowadays on the market allow you to choose the right size and style for any clothing item, whether lightweight or heavy-duty. Also, you can find snap finishes available in nickel, black and sometimes gold-tone. Because of the durability requirement of snaps, metal press studs are the most conventional, commonly found ones on the market. ​

Step-by-step guide: How to sew poppers like a pro

Do you want a sewing pattern tutorial to add beautiful and easy to use snaps to your fabrics? Follow this step-by-step guide and see how simple it is to make it a DIY sewing project!

What you’ll need

  1. Fabric pen or pencil
  2. Sewing pin
  3. Needle
  4. Thread
  5. Scissors
  6. Snaps
  7. Fabric

Garment accessories on wooden table

Step 1: Mark the locations for the popper

  1. Start by separating the snap from the package. To do so, pull the snap’s front and back apart in opposite directions. Are you wondering which part goes where? The ball side is the piece that you’ll attach to your project’s bottom. You’ll then be able to push the snap’s socket side down onto the ball to close the snap.
  2. Position the project, so the layers are where you want them to be. You’ll need to fold or position fabric layers to mark the right places for the snap’s parts of the snap. For example, if you’re putting the snaps on a shirt, you should lay its front edge over the opposite side, so they overlap enough for you to add your snap. If you want to use them in a pouch, you should fold over as much fabric as you’d like to make the opening. If the side of the fabric won’t stay in place, you can iron it so it won’t shift around or unfold while you work.
  3. Then, stick a sharp sewing pin where you want to sew the snap on your fabric. Insert it through your project where you want to place your snap. Make sure to push the pin through the fabric’s top layer, so it comes out and touches its bottom layer. For example, if you’re adding the snap to a pouch’s top, you should fold it over as though you’re snapping it shut and stick the pin through the fabric’s top layer.
  4. While you insert the sewing pin, you should mark both layers of fabric with a tailors chalk, pencil or fabric pen. First, make a small dot where the pin touches the fabric’s bottom layer. Then, lift its top layer back so you can make a mark where the pin is still sticking out. If you want to make a lining for your project, it’s best to put in the snaps before sewing in the lining since it will hide the stitches on your snaps’ back.

Step 2: Stitch the ball-sided piece to the bottom

  1. Thread a needle and tie a knot at the thread’s end. You may use any thread colour for your project, so you should decide what look you’re opting for. Thread the sewing needle with at least 30 cm of thread and tie a knot at the end.
  2. Hold the ball-sided piece on the fabric’s bottom part. Using your non-dominant hand, put the snap’s ball-sided piece onto the mark you made. Keep in mind that it should be on the bottom fabric piece. For example, if you want to make a snap for your shirt, the ball-sided part will be on the fabric’s edge that’s underneath the edge or seam.
  3. For this step, you may want to wear a thimble so you won’t poke your fingers. You want to bring the needle up from under your fabric through one of the holes. To do so, keep the snap in place while you hold your needle in the other hand and pull it from under your fabric. Bring your needle up and out through one of the snap holes. You can begin with any hole since you’ll eventually sew through all of them.
  4. It’s now time to stitch around the hole 5 times. Bring your needle over the snap’s edge and push it down through your fabric. Then, pull it back up through the same hole. You should repeat this at least 4-5 times to secure this snap part to the fabric.
  5. To secure the snap, you should sew through each hole. Once you’ve sewn through 1 of the snap holes, start sewing the opposite one. Ensure to stitch up and around the edge at least 4-5 times. Then, repeat and sew the remaining holes, so your snap doesn’t slide around at all.
  6. Turn your fabric over and tie a knot on the snap’s back. To do so, flip the piece over so you can see the snap’s back. Slide the needle under one of the stitches and pull till the thread forms a loop. Then, insert the needle through the loop and pull it tightly to create a knot before cutting any excess thread. Do you want the snap to be more secure? All you need to do is make an extra knot on the back.

hands sewing button with needle and thread

Step 3: Sew the socket piece on top

  1. It is now time to position the fabric’s upper layer. Pay attention to how your material will be folded once your project is done, and look for the mark you made in the previous steps. For example, if your project is a shirt, you’ll be sewing the socket piece onto the fabric’s top layer, but you should do it on the fabric’s underside so it can come into contact with the snap’s bottom. Are you making a pouch with an opening that folds over? Then, you should unfold the opening to find the mark and attach the upper snap piece to the fabric’s underside.
  2. Place the snap’s socket piece on the mark and push your pin through the tiny hole in the very centre. This will help to keep the piece from sliding around while you sew. Remember to hold the socket piece in place as you stitch through each hole.
  3. You must now sew 5 loops through each hole across your socket piece, just like you did for the bottom part. Bring the needle under the piece, so it comes out through one hole. Then, sew your needle over the side and down through the fabric. Repeat this process 5 times for each hole, so your piece is secure. Do you want to test if your snap is in the right place? Then fold the upper fabric over the bottom and snap these pieces together. 
  4. The last step is to flip your fabric over and tie a knot in the back. To do so, turn the upper fabric piece over to see the stitches you just made. Then, insert the needle under a stitch and pull it until your thread becomes a loop. Bring your needle through the loop and pull tightly to make a knot. Trim the end of the thread and make another knot if you want the upper snap to be even more secure. You’re done!

woman showing a shirt's snap fastening

Easy alternative – Snap tape

Are you looking for an easier way to add poppers to your fabrics? You may also consider snap tape if you want to line up several snaps in a row. Do you know what a snap tape is? This tape has the ball snaps on one side, and the socket snaps in a row on the other side. You can sew the tape in with all the snaps ready to connect. All you need to do is just get your sewing machine and sew along the tape’s edges. That’s all you need to do before you sit back and enjoy your craft without any snips or snags – just great snaps!

Customising your snaps

Do you want to adorn your snap buttons with customised colour or design? You can easily do it by using enamel paint. No-bake enamel paint that does not require baking and will air set in 24–36 hours can be found in many craft stores. You may also use a more common household item; nail polish. Either you have metal poppers or plastic snaps, use this technique to apply your paint: 

  1. Roughen the snaps’ surface. You may do this using low grit sandpaper or a nail file.
  2. Clean their surface with a damp cloth to remove any debris. Then let the snap dry completely.
  3. Apply thin layers of nail polish, allowing them to dry between coats to prevent the paint from bubbling.
  4. Let it dry for 12–24 hours before setting the snap to prevent smudging. Keep in mind that a hammer and anvil setting tool is gentler on the snap’s painted surface. To further protect your painted surface during setting, you should place a small fabric scrap between the metal cup and the snap cap.

A box of colourful press studs for sewing
Are you still intimidated to attach snaps in your fabrics? We are sure you are not! As you can tell, you can easily achieve amazing results with very basic sewing skills, which is great for a beginner. Also, you can always feel safer by testing your snaps on test fabric before applying them to your finished product. For example, you don’t want the prongs of a snap sticking out instead of nesting with their companion piece! Following our instructions and practising before moving on to the final product is something you won’t regret!

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