Except for buttonholes, almost all openings in fabric use a grommet. The grommet keeps the fabric from fraying and will increase the stress the fabric will handle.
There are many applications for grommets. Grommets are either made from Plastic or Metal. In general, the plastic grommets, can be installed without tools. But, plastic grommets will not handle as much stress, as a metal grommet. Metal grommets tend to hold up better outdoors than plastic grommets, however. The most common use for plastic grommets is in drapery or curtain applications. They are easy to install. The only tools required, typically, are scissors to cut the hole. Some of the larger sized plastic drapery grommets may require a mallet to snap the grommets together. Installation instructions, where applicable, are on our website. Indoor drapery and curtain applications are where plastic grommets really work the best. From a few feet away, you cannot tell the difference between a plastic grommet and a metal one. They are less expensive than metal grommets and do not require (expensive) specialty tools for installation. They handle the weight of residential (and 99% of commercial) drapes, just fine. Plastic grommets can be removed and re-used.
Before getting to the real subject of this article – the installation of metal grommets, in fabric – for uses other than drapes or curtains, lets briefly touch on metal drapery grommets. Window treatment shops have been installing metal drapery grommets, for years. Expensive tools are required. Each die purchased will only work on one size of grommet. The grommets usually cost more than plastic drapery grommets. Once installed, they are extremely difficult to remove. You have to destroy the grommet, to remove it. Usually the fabric is damaged when removing a metal grommet. It is difficult to ascertain a reason for using a metal drapery grommet. Out in the weather, the finish usually comes off, before the sunlight gets to a plastic grommet. If you use a plastic drapery grommet, outdoors, when it starts to look weathered, just replace it – which you can’t easily do with metal. Metal drapery grommets will handle more weight than plastic. But, unless you are making curtains for a stage, this is seldom a consideration.
Curtains and drapes are but one application for grommets. When I think of grommets, I always think of tarpaulins (tarps), with grommets along the sides and corners, where rope is passed to tie it down. I suppose you could call these, utility grommets. But, people just call them, grommets. There are some plastic utility grommets, out there. But they are few and far between. Almost all utility grommets are metal. There are many different kinds of grommets, but the two most common are Plain Grommets and Spur Grommets. Grommets consist of a “post” and a “washer”. This is called a grommet set.
Another thing to consider. Maybe what you have (or need) is not a grommet. Common Sense or Twist Fasteners, usually used on boats, look like a a oval shaped grommet. Go to Rust Resistant Canvas Fasteners for boats and outdoor applications. and take a look.
Plain Grommets are the most common, metal grommet. They are inexpensive and can be purchased in kits with the installation tool. They work well for all but the highest stress applications. Metal Spur Grommets are for high stress applications. The best examples are sails and ”T” tops on boats. Spur grommets are more expensive. They require a different tool than a plain grommet. The most common metal used for grommets is Brass. There are Stainless Steel grommets, but they are quite difficult to install. What most people usually think is a Stainless Steel Grommet, 99% of the time it turns out to be a Nickel Plated Brass grommet. A Brass or Nickel Plated Brass Grommet usually will not corrode, for years, out in the weather.
Grommets are available with a colored finish, with Black being the most common. Grommets are sized by numbers, with size 00 being the smallest – 3/16” inside diameter. About the largest commonly seen grommet is a #6, which is 13/16” ID. Really, most of the grommets you will see are between size 0 – ¼” and size 4 - ½”. Grommets smaller than 3/16” are sometimes categorized as eyelets. You probably won’t need something bigger than a #4, unless you are making sails. Beacon Fabric & Notions sells grommets, individually and by the gross, in most sizes. Although there are self-piercing grommets, most grommets require a cutter to make the hole. Self-piercing grommets are always done by machine. A low priced grommet setting “Press” or machine is several hundred dollars. You have to have the right tools for the job. Each size grommet requires a separate cutter and die. Spur Grommets use a different die than Plain grommets, but you can use the same cutter.
If you are going to install a few grommets a year, then a Handi-Grommet kit will probably be your best value. For under $25, you will have everything you need, to install one size of grommet. The kit consists of a cutting tool and a die. The die consists of a Insert Handle and a Base. A few grommets are included with each kit. These kits only install Plain Brass and Nickel Plated Brass Grommets. They do not work consistently with colored grommets. The Handi-Grommet kit will not set a Spur Grommet. Some brands of kits are better than others. The kits we sell, work well. We use them, ourselves. A professional-grade hole cutting tool makes grommet installation, a little easier. Using a Rawhide Mallet will make your grommet installation die and cutting tool last longer. If you are installing grommets commercially, doing a one-time installation of more than 200 grommets or grommets are an every week operation, you owe it to yourself to buy professional grade grommet setting dies, cutters and cutting pad. If you are installing thousands of grommets, buy a grommet press – contact Customer Service.
that very thin fabrics, like Ripstop Nylon will require additional material
between the two sides of the grommet (post and washer) to set properly.
When in doubt, try a grommet, on a scrap piece of material. Because removing
a grommet, after setting, is quite a chore! Most problems people have
setting grommets are not having the right setting tool and trying to
use very thin fabric. If you have questions about grommets or some of
the other ways to set grommets, please contact Customer
To see all of the Grommets sold by Beacon Fabric & Notions, go to Grommets.
also see Fashion eyelets for clothing and other applications, or where a very small hole is needed. and
Rust Resistant Canvas Fasteners for boats and outdoor applications. Used on Boat Canvas and other Outdoor applications.
Also see for Shock Cord and related Notions and Fittings. and for Single Braid Cord and Fittings.
To See all of our Fabrics and Sewing Notions, see the left hand frame or go to Beacon Fabric & Notions Notions Main page.
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