Using the Dritz Eyelet Plier Kit

Update 5/6/17: please see my new post about eyelet pliers and why I’ve become a hand-bound eyelet devotee.

I’ve been thinking about buying eyelet pliers for a while, and back around Christmas I had a 50% coupon for JoAnn Fabric (which is the only large-scale fabric store within a 3 hour drive of where I live) so I decided to buy the Dritz Eyelet Plier Kit.

When I was ready to put the eyelets in the Faire outfit that I was making for my friend, I carefully read the instructions on the back of the plier kit which… were not very descriptive:

002v2I did a quick Google search, hoping someone had created more descriptive instructions with photos or better illustrations, but I couldn’t find much. What confused me at first was the instruction to “Position fabric in pliers with mark centered over punch. Squeeze pliers to punch hole in fabric.” The accompanying drawing doesn’t really specify which part of the pliers is the “punch.” I couldn’t figure out if they meant the little knob protruding out of the top arm of the pliers in the picture up there. The knob has a rounded bulb on the end, and really doesn’t look as if it can punch a hole in anything except maybe paper. But I grabbed some scrap fabric and, certain that I was going to end up getting the pliers stuck together with the fabric in between, I started testing this “punching” ability.

Apparently the sharp part that actually creates the hole is on the anvil side of the pliers (on the bottom arm in my photo). The knob part (the punch) pushes the fabric through the sharp part of the anvil and creates a hole that is just big enough to work the eyelet through. Now that I understood, I grabbed my bodice pieces and marked out where the eyelets needed to go with a water-soluble marking pencil.

003v2Then I lined up the punch/knob thing on the pliers with my eyelet marks.

006v2Gave the pliers a quick squeeze, and ended up with nice, clean punched holes.

007v2Then I carefully worked the barrel side of the metal eyelets through the fabric from the good side. The flat end of the eyelets should be flush against the good side of the fabric.

010v2008v2Next I inserted the punch/knob through the eyelet from the good side of the fabric/flat side of the eyelet.

012v2I gave the pliers a firm squeeze to force the barrel end of the eyelet to split and curl down onto the fabric, flattening the eyelet and (hopefully) sealing the raw edges of the fabric in to keep the hole strong. One thing I noticed is that the anvil side of the pliers wobbles a little bit, because it has to move to adjust to the angle of the opposite arm of the tool. I realized after a couple of my eyelets came out a bit messy that I had to make sure the ends of the barrel side of the eyelet were sitting neatly in the ditch of the anvil before squeezing so that the pressure was even all the way around the barrel of the eyelet while I pressed down. It took a little bit of practice. I wish I had practiced a bit more on my scrap fabric before putting the eyelets in the bodice, but I didn’t want to waste the eyelets. :/

Here’s what a neatly done eyelet looks like from the back:

015v2And here’s the finished good-side of the front bodice panel with all of the eyelets in:

016v2I hope this was helpful! If anyone has more questions, or if you’ve also used these pliers and have more advice, tips, or tricks, please share in the comments!

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The Secret Project: Pink and Black Ren Faire Garb

I didn’t really mean to go so long between posts, but I was working on a project that was intended as a surprise to a friend, so I didn’t want to post anything about it.

Back in September a friend of mine mentioned as we were leaving the Faire that she thought it would be more fun to attend if she had an outfit to wear. Cue my brain thinking of all the pieces she had liked at the vendors and laughing maniacally over how much fun it would be to surprise her.

The finished outfit.

The finished outfit.

So I set out to make a three-piece outfit for her to wear to the next Faire (which at this point is still six months away, mind you, but one can never prepare too early for the Faire).

Back in November I accidentally found a pink and black damask fabric on sale at fabric.com that matched my friend’s aesthetic perfectly (I actually sent capital letter-ridden messages to my bf after I found it because I could not contain my excitement). The fabric is just a thin polyester satin, but the print is so spot-on that I didn’t care. I lined the bodice with two layers of a heavy cotton twill as well as interfacing to give it enough strength, and then the front panels are boned with zip ties from the hardware store–a trick I’ve been hearing about online. They work really well! They’re stronger than the plastic boning you buy at JoAnn’s, but less expensive than the metal boning from corset suppliers, and since this bodice is only meant to be snug, not shaping like a corset, they were a nice alternative.

Bodice close up.

Bodice close up.

The blouse is made of black gauze and the skirt is made of a black jacquard that unfortunately has a bit of a stretch, but again, the jacquard was exactly what I was looking for, so I grabbed it up. I figure Faire garb is about a look with a bit of fantasy and a bit of history mixed, so I wasn’t too concerned with fiber contents or weaving techniques.

For the blouse I altered the Simplicity 3809 pattern so that the sleeves are short and come to a point. For the bodice I used the Simplicity 9966 pattern, which, WARNING!, leaves four inches of ease, meaning your “fitted” bodice comes out four inches bigger than your actual measurements. I’m guessing that might be part of the reason that pattern is out of print now… The skirt is my own pattern that’s basically made of six sort of kite-shaped pieces to give it an uneven hem.

Outfit back.

Outfit back.

The finished outfit doesn’t look like much on my dress form, since my friend is a different size than I am, but it looks great on her! She was totally surprised, and she actually cried (which I couldn’t decide whether to feel guilty or happy about).

I also got to use my new eyelet pliers for the first time, which I’m going to do a more detailed post about later. The instructions that came on the card back with the pliers were not terribly explicit and included only vague illustrations, and the how-to posts I found online after a quick search were not much more illuminating. I thought it might be helpful to have a step-by-step illustrated post about using them.