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MANUAL - Plastic Snaps

You can use these Plastic Snaps on a variety of different sewing projects. They are a great alternative to buttons or velcro. Having a box at hand with all these colors (24!) opens up a lot of possibilities. Attaching them is very straightforward and simple. They have a soft feel and are easy to open and close, even for kids, and they have a good strong hold.

Snaps are often used on baby stuff, like bibs, little vests, dresses, reusable diapers, and wraps… but are also interesting for closing quilt or duvet covers… I used them on a camera strap and on these little pouches.

How To Assemble a Plastic Snap

To assemble 1 snap, you need 4 pieces: 2 identical caps (front & back)– these are the ones that look like thumb tacks–, and 2 inside pieces, a stud (male end) & a socket (female end).

The standard snaps are size 20 (sometimes also referred to as T5), the cap has a 1/2” wide diameter. They can be used for most general projects, and are the most popular snaps. However, snaps also come in smaller and larger sizes. For instance, size 22 (0.55”) are used for heavy duty applications requiring a strong grip: tote bags, coats, tarps, and upholstery. Size 16 (0.4”) are the smaller ones. They are used for baby and toddler clothing, mama pads, and small crafts.

You will need special pliers with a divot (a tray) where the snap can sit in (the black part) and a rod with a soft plastic cover (metal rod + white transparent cover).

The pliers we have in our store come with everything you need: 3 different divots, 2 rods, an awl to make the holes, and a screwdriver to change the parts.

The tip of the rod is either (approximately) (A) ⅛” or (B) 3/16” in diameter. For the standard snaps, you use the smallest rod of the two. The widest one is only for snaps in size 22, for all snaps size 20 or smaller, you use the small rod. The transparent plastic covers for the rod are the same size, but the size of the hole is different. The one with the little hole is for the thinnest rod, the other two are for the big rod.

The 3 divots are approximately (1) ½” , (2) ⅝” and (3) ¾” in diameter. With these divots and rods, you can use these pliers for plastic snaps in these sizes:

  •       • cap size ⅜” (T3 or size 16) → (1) ½” divot + (A) small rod
  •       • cap size ½” (T5 or size 20) → (2) ⅝” divot + (A) small rod
  •       • cap size ⅝” (T8 or size 22) → (3) ¾” divot + (B) big rod

At MadamSew we sell the size 20 caps in a handy organizing box with 24 colors. If you have the pliers as well, you won’t even have to change the rod and the divot. The right rod and divot are already on the pliers.

However, if you need to change the rod and the divot, you need to use the little screwdriver that comes with the pliers and unscrew 2 big grey screws for the rod and 1 little black screw for the divot.

How To Attach a Plastic Snap: 6 STEPS

1. Mark where you want your snap.

2. Poke a hole where you will position your snap. Sometimes you can pierce your fabric with the plastic pin (the prong) of the cap but very often you will need to use an awl.

3. Put the prong of the cap through the top side and put the socket with the wider part away from the fabric on the prong.

4. Now, take your pliers to attach the socket and the cap: Put the flat piece of the cap inside the black tray (the divot) of the pliers–, it has to fit inside the divot–, match the socket with the other end of the pliers, making sure that the indentation is away from the prong. Make sure no part of the button sits outside of the divot. Now press down and squeeze it with both of your hands. You will see that the prong is flattened like a pancake. The pliers smooshed down the plastic prong, which secures the snap.

5. For the stud part, do the same. Make a hole, poke the prong through, place the stud part with the flat side facing down onto the fabric, place the cap in the divot. Squeeze!

6. To make sure your snaps are placed properly, there should be a clicking sound when you open and close them. “SNAP! SNAP!”

Extra tip: If your fabric is not firm enough, you can reinforce the place where you will put the snap.

How to remove a snap

Place the pliers on the side of the snap and squeeze to break the seal between the 2 components. Don't forget that the fabric will likely be marked by the hole you poked to attach the snap, and you will not be able to use the snap again.

Change the rod

I made a short video that shows you how to change the rod & the divot on the MadamSew plastic snaps pliers:

1. Loosen the screw that holds the rod and remove it. You can loosen the other one next to it as well, but with some practice you can leave it on.

2. Remove the plastic cover from the rod.

3. Remove the spring.

4. Pull out the rod.

5. Slide in the desired rod.

6. Attach the plastic cover on the tip.

7. Get a good grip and push the spring down so you can get the screws back in.

8. Tighten the screws.

Change the divot

1. Remove the little black screw on the side.

2. Pull out the divot (or push from the other side).

3. Put in the new divot.

4. Replace the screw and tighten it.

Tips and Inspiration From our Blog

Or use them on this bandana bib for your favorite baby or toddler: 

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