Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tool Review: Crosslinks Grommet Press

Anyone who makes corsets is aware that adding the grommets can be one of the more time-consuming and annoying parts of the process.  I've wished for an easier and faster way to insert grommets for years, but I had not heard many good things about hand-grommet presses, and can't afford and don't have space for a kick-plate grommet machine.

But recently I decided I needed to try something, so I bought myself a grommet press from ebay.  I looked around at the options available.  Most presses you find on ebay are the same green press sold by many sellers.  I'd heard not great things about those, so I looked for some different option.

I found a different design of press being sold by the Ebay seller Crosslinks.  It looked more sturdy than the green presses, and I decided to give it a shot.  I order the set with three sizes of grommets and dies, plus a stand to catch loose pieces.  I thought having the base would make the press more stable without needing to mount it to a table.

Well the first thing I noticed when I received the press was that the base has WHEELS ON IT.  When stability is what you want, why would you put WHEELS on the base.  Though the press easily unbolts from the base, the wheels are fairly permanently attached to it, so it makes the base mostly pointless.

However the press itself was quite large and heavy duty seeming.  I wasn't making any corsets at the moment, though, so I couldn't test it out right away.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago I had a corset in need of grommets.  I wanted to use the grommets I had, since they were in coordinating colors.  I tried using the press with my existing grommets with horrible results.  They wouldn't go cleanly through the layers of fabric of the corset and they didn't finish cleanly, either.

The washers are bent and splitting, and there are splits in the post.  Not to mention the mess that is the third one.  This is after a huge struggle to make the holes myself, then insert the grommets.  I went through several grommets that were destroyed, and by the end of this process was sore and breathing hard.  Nothing about it was easier or less frustrating that setting them by hand.    So I tore these out and replaced them by hand.

I decided that, ok, I make pretty thick corsets.  I'll give the press another chance with a simpler task.  So I had some lacing panels to make for mock-ups.  I made them of two layers of imported coutil, so it's very strong fabric, but thin, and only two layers.  This is as thin as I will probably ever make a corset, so I'm giving the press the best chance.  And I used the grommets that came with it.

It was a disaster.  I couldn't get a single one to set.  It would only cut through one layer of fabric, leaving the second layer intact, and the grommet half secured.  The first one had the washer pop off immediately, the second one was only attached on one side.

Honestly, it is so bad I feel like I'm doing something horribly wrong.  I tried seeing if I was inserting the grommet upside down, but no.  I looked at the instructions that came with it and I had it right.  I checked to make sure I had the right size die...

I got it to work fairly well when I set a grommet into a single piece of quilting cotton.  But who grommets one thickness of cotton?

So this was a total failure and waste of money.  Now I have to figure out what to do with this thing. I can't return it, as I waited too long to properly test it.  So I can try to resell it to someone without telling them that it sucks?  Anyone want a grommet press?  Cheap?  Maybe you'll have more luck than me?

So I'm back to setting grommets by hand.  I've ordered a hole punch I can hit with a hammer instead of using a rotary hand punch, because that thing KILLS my hands.

Does anyone else have experience with any grommet presses they'd like to share?


  1. you need to us a cutting die 1st to make the hole, then use the press to set the grommet.

  2. I don't use grommets very often, so I don't require any machines. I prefer to simply use hammer to punch and set. If you get in a rhythm, it really doesn't save much time with a machine. And forget those tools for squeezing. Yikes! My hands say heck no! :)

  3. I use an awl, then a chopstick to make my holes before I use my grommet press ( I have the cast iron homepro [like this one: http://www.amazon.com/The-Homepro-Lr-Inch-Reach/dp/B003LVLYCS/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt ]). Rather than breaking the threads of the fabric. it spreads them to help keep the corset's strength and integrity intact. Perhaps you need a longer shanked grommet? What I mean is, since you're going through sevaral layers of fabric, you need enough metal to pass through that width comfortably, and then still wrap over the other side to make it secure. The grommets you have may be intended for scrapbooking, which is why they only sit nicely on one layer of fabric. Unfortunately, my good source of grommets has dried up, but the corsetmakers livejournal community is still active (http://corsetmakers.livejournal.com/) , and I'm sure that they will have further ideas about how to make the grommet/eyelet setter you have work better for you.