Tutorial by Rae: Magnetic Snap

It always surprises me how many people have never used a magnetic snap. Both my Buttercup Bag and Bonsai Bag sewing patterns call for a magnetic snap, and they’re a snap (sorry!) to put in. Seriously, SO easy, and they look so snappy (sorry!! hee) that I figured it was time to make sure that everyone knows how.

Step 1: Reinforce your lining

A magnetic snap attaches to the lining of a bag or purse, which is almost nearly always made of two identical pieces of fabric (front and back). You don’t want it to tear through the lining fabric with wear, so before you put in the snap you’ll need to iron a little square of fusible interfacing to the WRONG SIDE of the lining with its center where you want your snap to go. I usually cut my interfacing square 1.5″-2″ across. Find the center of the lining, and then place the square well below the seam allowance on the top edge of the lining’s WRONG SIDE:

The picture above is of the Bonsai Bag lining; that pattern has a 1/2″ seam allowance, so in that pattern you place the 2″ square one inch below the top edge.

For the Buttercup Bag (a smaller bag with a 1/4″ seam allowance) the pattern calls for a 1.5″ square of interfacing to be ironed 1/2″ below the center top.

Step 2: Overlap lining pieces and take your snap out of the package

Place your lining pieces right sides together so that all the edges are lined up.

Take your snap out of the package. Each complete snap has two sides, and each side of the snap has two parts, a front and a back, so you’ll need four pieces for your purse.

Step 3: Mark where the snap will go

Take one of the circular snap backs and center it over the square. Two of the holes look like vertical slits. Make sure those are perpendicular to the top of the purse as shown, then mark their location on the interfacing.

Step 4: Cut holes through both linings at the same time

Using a sharp blade* and keeping both linings together and lined up, cut through both linings at the same time. This will insure that both sides of your snap will be lined up perfectly.

*But Rae, what if I don’t have a sharp blade? (UPDATED: thanks to a clever commenter who reminded me that a sharp seam ripper also works great for this!) You can also fold the interfacing in half horizontally and snip those lines carefully with a sharp scissors. Just make sure you hold both lining pieces together carefully and don’t let them slide!

Step 5: Push snap through holes

Separate the linings and push the snap tabs of one of the snap halves through the holes of one lining piece. Remember that the tabs should go to the wrong side of the lining.

Step 6: Place back on snap and push tabs apart 

Now place the circular snap back over the tabs, and press those tabs outward. Repeat for the other lining piece/other half of the snap:

Finito! Doesn’t that snap look sharp? Here’s what it looks like on the Buttercup Bag (after a pocket was added):

Now you can finish up the rest of that purse!  (Rather wonky inside-of-purse shot shown below)

A little tech-talk: You’ll notice that because my interfacing square was 2″ and I placed the square 1″ below the top edge and lost a 1/2″ due to seam allowance, that the snap is now centered 1.5″ below the top edge of the finished purse. If your interfacing square is 1.5,”your seam allowance is 1/4,” and your square is placed 1/2″ below the top (as in the case of the Buttercup Bag shown below), the snap will be centered 1″ below the top finished edge.

31 thoughts on “Tutorial by Rae: Magnetic Snap

  1. Wow! Seems quick and easy. I've never handled magnetic snaps so I didn't even know what they looked like (when not attached to a bag).

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. I can't even tell you how many mag snaps I've put in and never thought to cut my slits on both pieces at the same time. massive head slap!!
    For extra reinforcement, I put another piece of fleece over the prongs, and then sew the closest thing to a square I can get around it (stitching with right side up). The stitched square adds a little something, and the extra fleece makes even more sure nothing will poke through (it's probably not necessary but I'm not neurotic).

  3. Awesome! Thanks! You've explained it a million times better than the flimsy card attached to the snap package.

  4. thanks for this Rae! totally useful post. i'm going to challenge myself to make something snappy just because i have no more excuses! πŸ™‚

  5. thanks for the tut and the great blog. I push my prongs in and then a 2nd layer of interfacing and then sew a circle around the magnet.

  6. I love magnetic snaps but I usually use zippers on purses because I worry about stuff falling out. But the next time I use a magnetic snap, I will definitely use your tip of cutting both linings at once – genius!

  7. Two things I do differently:
    1. I mark lines through the center of the interfacing, vertically and horizontally so that marking the cut lines is accurate on both sides.
    2. I use my seam ripper to cut my slits.

    I was at one point afraid of the magnetic snap as well. Once I got over myself and did it, I felt silly for being afraid of something so darn easy!

  8. Great tutorial Rae. One tip I saw somewhere was to sew tiny button holes for the prongs after interfacing to give it a bit more strength. Will be linking to Sewing 101 if you don't mind.

  9. I'm like Bethany – I've never thought to cut the fabric at the same time either!! DAMN!!
    It's nice to see that I've been doing everything else the right way though. Phew!!
    Thanks for this, good tutorials on the basics are sometimes hard to find.

  10. Wonderful post, I like this website and it has given me a bit of inspiration to have success, so thank you.

  11. Yes, like Miq said about using a seam ripper, I use one of those large heavy duty seam rippers and it works like a charm every time, and is easier than using scissors!

  12. This is great πŸ™‚ I've been thinking of doing up a tutorial for this but figured someone else must've already done it! Then I couldn't find one that I liked. You did a great job…obviously. I used to bend the prongs inward until I had a snap wriggle free inside the bag. If the snaps are bent outward, this doesn't happen. I'm going to link to this tutorial from my blog in a link list of bag making how to's. Thanks a lot!

  13. Omg…thank you sooooo much for doing this. I thought I was the only dork out there that didn't know how. Thank god I'm not alone πŸ˜› You have saved me from further embarassment of altering parts of patterns that call for these magnetic suckers and fibbing and saying I just wanted to do it my way when really I just didn't know how to do it the correct way…muahahhaha.

  14. Thank you! I had always avoided magnetic snaps because I wasn't sure I was up to it. I saw your tutorial and pictures and went out to get some last night! About to make a messenger bag for a teenager today…
    Thank you!

  15. I think installing magnetic snaps is fun. πŸ™‚ I do mine a little differently, though… like this. It's very secure, and then you don't end up with that sometimes visible patch where interfacing is ironed on. I also turn my prongs to the inside. The snap is not going to come loose with that stitching around it, plus then there isn't any wear on the fabric from the prongs.

    Just my 2Β’-worth (that I've been meaning to add for the last week!). πŸ˜‰

  16. Thank you Grandma G – I have been bending the prongs out and just had my first fail – the prongs poked through the fabric (and heavy interfacing). I like the way the stitching looks. I will have to try this.

  17. Holy cow!! I thought that metal disk was for measuring only. I always threw mine out after making the marks. No wonder my snaps are so weak. Thanks for spelling it out for thick headed sewers like me.

  18. This is probably THE WORLD’S DUMBEST question, but is there any way in the world to add a magnetic snap to a purse that you have already fully completed? I’m guessing no, but I’m hoping beyond hope YES.

    • hey skooks:
      So the only way to add one to an already-completed purse is to rip out a few stitches so you can get that back snap piece behind the fabric, you follow? It’s possible, but not without a little un-sewing and resewing. Good luck!

  19. It is actually better to push the prongs to the inside of the circle and not the outside. by pushing them to the other way (in not out) it will stay longer and less chance of it coming loose.

  20. Great tutorial. I first used magnetic snaps on my first buttercup bag – sooo easy to install! I followed your advice and spread the prongs out but spent the whole life of the bag trying to avoid them tearing the bag. For my replacement buttercup I bent them inwards – the snap just feels more secure and no fear of fabric rips. I love Grandma G’s fleecy blanket tip, I’ll try it on my next buttercup. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m totally in love with your buttercup bag, thanks Rae! πŸ™‚

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