Thursday, July 21, 2016

Product Review: Snap Source metal snaps

It can be intimidating to order sewing supplies online from somewhere new, or to try a new-to-you sewing notion. I recently had that happen with a site called Snap Source, and since I had a mixed experience I thought I would share and hopefully help out some others. I was not paid or perked for this review and I spent my own dolla bills, so no conflicts here!


Some of the most useful sewing suppliers have the worst websites. Obviously, they're more interested in quality of items and service than making it pretty, which is fine, but it can make it harder for my tech-conscious generation. Don't let their homepage fool you, Snap Source has a great selection of snaps and the tools to help you use them properly.

I came to this site after making clothes for my newest baby, specifically the coveralls from Brindlle & Twig. I typically use plastic KAM snaps in size 20, but the B&T pattern recommends metal snaps in size 14. I considered using sew-on snaps, readily available at Jo-Ann's and in my stash, but after considering the labor, I decided to buy. Snap Source sells metal snaps of all sizes and also a specific tool for quickly installing them. I ordered the tool (without a hammer) and metal open ring snaps in size 14, various colors. The tool came prepackaged with practice snaps, which I wasn't expecting and was a nice bonus. There was also a full-color instruction sheet.


I really wanted to like these. It seemed simple. Using the SnapSetter tool, make a sandwich with the snap parts and fabric, bang away with a hammer and viola. Although that WAS the process, in practice it took too long (probably not much faster than sewing by hand) and the results weren't worth it half the time. I'll explain further.

The first part of the sandwich is the bottom of the SnapSetter tool. Next comes the prong, then the fabric, then the middle of the SnapSetter.


This only works if your fabric stays perfectly still, if the thickness is even, if the thickness of the fabric is correct, and if you pre-smoosh (technical term) the prong through the fabric. In the above photo with a single layer scrap, of course it looks easy. But the only way I could get my snap and fabric to stay still was to insert the tip of my tweezers through the second layer of the tool and hold the snap/fabric in place. It was super awkward and annoying, but if I didn't use the tweezers it would all slide off and I'd have to start over.


Here is reality, with a completed garment, with the snap on the leg opening of my coveralls. In this example, the lumps and bumps prevent the force from the hammer being distributed evenly. I seemed to have about a 50% success rate of getting the snaps installed correctly the first time. If you bang away at it and one prong gets bent too far out, you have to pop the whole thing apart and start over with a new prong. In other words: buy lots of extras.


I did eventually figure out that once I had the snap together the right way, even loosely, I could reinforce it with only the top part of the SnapSetter.


This method only required that I center the top part of the tool on the snap. I didn't have to keep everything even between all three parts. It wasn't ideal but it worked and kept me from tearing my hair out.

One other obvious note: setting these is loud. You're banging with a hammer. It's not something I could do during naptime, and ideally it needed to be done without kids around due to the small, sharp parts. If you're a stay at home mom like me, good luck finding a time that meets the above requirements.

I had approximately 4 kimono tops and 3 coveralls that needed between 2-5 snaps each. And of course, that was doubled when you take into account that you need two sides for each snap. I worked on this on and off for weeks and by the time I got down to the last coverall, I had had it. I didn't even bother to finish the last coverall, which probably was a good decision since the snaps I DID install have popped off a few times since baby M was born. I now have a box of snaps and a tool that I don't even want to touch. If I sew these patterns in the future I'll change the pattern to accommodate larger KAM snaps, which are much easier to apply.

This was just my personal experience, your mileage may vary. I know from the B&T Facebook group that plenty of people use these snaps, apparently without issue, but they're just not for me. If you've used them, and I'm doing something wrong, please inform me! I'm happy to learn if I'm making some sort of mistake.

1 comment:

  1. I have one of these, too, and when I have stuff that's not flat, I use cellophane tape and tape down the fabric to the tabletop. Or I put a weight, like a can of soup, on either side of the press on the fabric. Then, it really can't move around, and it's flattened out. Also, what works well to get the prongs through the fabric, before adding the rest of the press and smacking it with a hammer, is the eraser end of a pencil. I've used a lot of the SnapSource snaps and that little plastic gadget, and it was definitely trial and error. I've gotten pretty good at it, and I love that they don't come apart. I had one of those Dritz pliers sort of things from the chain fabric store, and those snaps came off pretty easily. Good luck!

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