This year, on the 3rd Monday of each month, I’m intending to post a tutorial on a commonly used technique in bag making.  To start things off, I’m going for a popular closure choice, magnetic snaps, specifically visible, non sew-in ones.

An entire magnetic snap assembly consists of 4 metal components, a male and a female side of the snap and 2 washers – the first time I bought one, the 2 halves of the snaps were loose in separate tubes (like the ones they put buttons in in fabric shops), and helpfully, no-one in the shop told me I needed washers for them:

Snaps come in different colours, profiles, shapes and sizes.  In the photo below, the ‘brass’ and gunmetal round snaps are 18mm, while the silver (the pink reflection is my top, sorry!) and heart shaped ones are 14mm.  The gunmetal one is a slim profile one, for use in things like clutches where you want a discreet closure.  The heart shaped ones are just some I picked up for fun a few years ago.

In a pattern you are not always instructed to add both sides of the snap at the same time, depending on the construction of the bag in question, and you are generally told to insert your snap at a certain point, for example 4″ from the side and 1″ down.  It’s a bit challenging when you’re new to bag making to work out what part of the round snap should be at that point, but I always take it to be the centre of the washer.

As the washer has a round hole in the centre, it’s easy to use it to line up with the mark you made as per the pattern.  The snaps have prongs on the back which go through the rectangular slots on the washer, so with the mark in the centre of the washer, mark where the prongs will go onto the fabric.  It doesn’t matter if this is on the front or the back of the fabric, as the snap will hide the marks.

Now using a washer on its own can be rather flimsy and lead to the snap pulling through the fabric, so I like to reinforce the area behind the snap before adding the washer.  I usually add a scrap of heavy interlining, and a scrap of fusible fleece before the washer goes on, and these need to be marked in the same way as the fabric:

Now comes the cutting!  Using a pair of sharp, pointed scissors, cut a little slit at each mark, both on the fabric and on the fusible fleece and interlining scraps.  On the fabric slits, it’s a good idea to add a dot of fray check at this point.

To insert the snap, poke the prongs through the slits in the fabric from the front.  On the back you then want to layer on the interlining, followed by the fusible fleece, and finally the washer.

At this point you have a choice, either you can fold the prongs over each other, or you can fold them outwards.  I’ve seen both being used, and have tried both successfully, so choose whichever you wish.


You have now attached one side of your snap:

I hope this all makes sense, but if you have any questions, please let me know!