Seamingly Badass

Learn to Sew: Two Common Closures

The Scary Zipper

Zippers intimidate a lot of beginner sewists.

But, many things want a zipper.

Plus, exposed metal zippers look cool. \m/, ,\m/ (that’s my little devil horn thingy that I have to do when I say “metal”)

The most common zipper is the standard zipper that’s closed at one end and opens at the other.

These zippers are common in garments and accessories. They come in a range of lengths.

Zippers can be shortened rather easily. There are a few ways to do it that depend on the application of the zipper. For instance, shortening a zipper for a pair of pants is a little different than what you might do for a bag or pouch.

The easiest type of zipper to sew is the all-purpose nylon coil zipper. (It’s less likely that you’ll break a needle sewing across it.)

They will be the most forgiving to sew with.

For a more in-depth view of the types of zippers and zipper materials, read this article (Or watch this video).

Stay tuned for more info on inserting zippers.

Oh Snap!

Another of my favorite closures are snaps.

The thing is, there are snaps that are sewn-in and snaps that aren’t.

If you haven’t figured out that I have an aversion to hand sewing by now, well, I do. (It’s so tedious!)

I prefer the snaps that don’t need to be sewn in. Unfortunately, they do require a snap-setting tool. And the tool is specific to the type of snap.

Needless to say, there are quite a few manufacturers out there that sell snaps and associated tools.

For the longest time, I used the Dritz brand snaps, with the plier type tool.

But recently I looked into Kam Snaps. (

They sell both metal and plastic snaps. And while their cheapest model of applicator only works on the plastic ones, for a small upgrade in price the next level up can use dies for both their metal and their plastic snaps.

In my opinion, this added versatility is worth the investment. And the press quality seems good.

Other than the investment of a tool to install the snaps, another drawback of non-sew-in snaps is that they may need to be inserted in the project prior to finishing. Unless it’s OK to view the back side of both cap and base. Typically, with the cap, it’s “OK” to see it if it’s part of your design. However, often, the base is better hidden within the layers of the projects.

The advantage is speed.

And in some cases, security. A crimped together snap is much less likely to come apart than a sewn one if installed properly.

Snap Types

There are metal snaps, plastic snaps and magnetic snaps. Magnetic snaps are metal, yes, but the aren’t really a post and hole security method. They stick together using magnetism.

And there are different kinds of magnetic snaps. There’s some that are hidden completely. There’s some that use prongs to get inserted into the fabric layer. And there are some that are put together like the metal non-sew-in snaps (or like a rivet) and have their own cap and base.

Regular metal sew-in snaps can come in very small and delicate sizes which are typically used for light duty.

The bigger the snap, in general, the more holding power it will have.

Also, there are different types of post-holding mechanisms. There’s a tight ring type, which is the lightest hold. and most common in fashion snaps.

Then there are spring snaps where a spring inside one part of the snap holds onto the post as inserted.

There’s another kind of spring snap that uses a ring to hold onto the post. and the post is much wider. I’ve seen these called ring-snaps and boat snaps. They are typically heavy duty.