Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to Insert Grommets

I know that putting grommets on something SOUNDS simple enough, but you'd be surprised by how much controversy there is on the topic online.  How they are installed can really affect how likely they are to pop out again, especially under a lot of tension or heavy use. A lot of people have problems with the grommets on their corsets coming out.  I've never had one come out, and I wear some of my corsets daily.

So this is how I put in a grommet.  It's not the fastest or easiest way, but I think it's the best.  (I should probably mention that I always use size 0 grommets.  I prefer them because I can use paracord as laces.  This increases the difficulty quite a bit.  Size 00 would be easier to get in the hole.)

1. First I figure out where I want my grommet to go and I use my corsetmaker's awl to start a hole.  I use the awl to stretch the hole as large as possible.  This is still not large enough to get a size 0 grommet in, though, so we move on to step 2.

2. I use a chopstick to stretch the hole wider.  This takes some force, but your fabrics are strong (cause you used the right ones for a corset, right?) and so I just shove the chopstick all the way through once.  The point of stretching the hole rather than cutting it is that it prevents the fabrics from tearing or fraying.  You are pushing aside the fibers in the fabric, rather than cutting them.  This means it will be very strong and durable.

3.  On both previous steps I make the hole from front to back, because that's how the grommet will be inserted, but now I insert the chopstick through the hole from back to front.  This helps hold the hole open while you insert the grommet. I slide the grommet onto the chopstick and pull the chopstick back out of the hole, working the grommet through the fabric.  It can be tricky to get the grommet all the way through with no thread over it, but just push any edges out of the way.

4. Place the other part of the grommet (the washer) over the post of the first part. Place your setter tool and anvil and hammer with a plastic mallet.  A word about setting tools.  I can't afford an expensive grommet press, and the cheap ones are rumored to not work very well.  So the best method is to use a two part tool that you hammer to set the grommet.  The pliers don't work very well and are difficult if you have a lot of grommets to set.  I really like the anvil and setter than come with this grommet set: Lord & Hodge 1073A-0 Grommet KitsIt's heavy duty and well made and will take serious pounding on.  The ones you get with a kit from the craft store are much wimpier and will warp will a lot of use.  It's also worked with all the other size 0 grommets I've bought just fine.   I use a poly mallet I got from Tandy Leather for the smacking.  I usually set the grommet with 2-3 whacks and then I remove the top part of the tool and give one light whack directly to the grommet to set it firmly and get rid of any poking up edges.  (Don't try this will a metal hammer, please.)

And you're done!  Here's what a set grommet looks like from the back (where the washer goes and where you whacked it.)  And below is a shot from the front (along with the tool and anvil.)  (FYI, that is an antique gold grommet from )


  1. That's great. I wanted to know how to do it without cutting warp threads in handwoven belts, and you have covered it nicely, as no-one else has. Many thanks
    KiwiMoth on Ravelry