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How to install grommets

In my last tutorial, I showed you how to turn a sheet into a shower curtain, and one of the supplies we used for that project was grommets.  In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to install grommets on your shower curtain, or in any other project you have in mind.

Why Grommets?

Grommets, also known as eyelets, are primarily used to add reinforcement to holes in fabric.  Those holes usually offer a function, such as lacing or strapping something (i.e. shoe laces or belts), or hanging something (i.e. curtains, bags or banners).  However, grommets don’t always have to serve a function.  They can add a unique, industrial look to clothing and home decor and can even simply be used to alter something for a new look.  The bag below, courtesy of Bayanhippo on Etsy, is a great example of an unexpected use for grommets that provide function as well as style.

I love the random placement of the grommet on this bag below, made by Yaheesplace.

They even make grommets large enough for curtain rods, as seen on these beautiful curtains made by Avec Dieu Couture on Etsy.

Grommets are shockingly easy to do yourself, and don’t require fancy, expensive tools of any sort.  All you need is a starter set of grommets, available at most craft stores, and a set of grommet setting tools, which usually come with the grommet starter sets.  Grommets come in all shapes, sizes and even colors.  The only thing to remember is that different size grommets usually require different sized setting tools; so, if you buy a set of grommets that doesn’t come with the setting tools, then make sure you find tools for that particular size grommets.  If you have any doubt, ask for help from a store employee.

Grommets come in all sizes and colors, such as these pink ones found on Etsy

Supplies that you’ll need to install your grommets:

  1. grommets
  2. grommet tools for the size grommets you’ll be installing
  3. a hammer

My extra large grommets and setting tools

How to install your grommets.

Step 1. Identify the two different parts of your grommet set. There are two parts to each set of grommets: 1) the washer, a flat and round ring and 2) the grommet, a ring with a raised center.  In the picture below, the washers are on the left, the grommets are on the right. You will need each of these two different parts to successfully install your grommet.  If you’re visual, like me, it might help to sort the washers and grommets into two separate piles, so that you don’t confuse them.

Identify the two parts of your grommet set

Step 2.  Identify the two different parts of your setting tool. On the left, below, is a long, tall piece, called the setter.  On the right is a small indented ring, which we’ll refer to as the anvil.  Your setting tool may vary slightly from mine, but should still resemble it.

The setter is on the left and the anvil is on the right

Step 3.  If you are not using a home decor or heavy weight fabric, it’s important to reinforce the area where you will be installing your grommets.  How you go about doing this is up to you, but I recommend it if you are at all doubtful of whether the fabric you are using can hold up to the strain of the grommets.  Some options include scraps of canvas or other heavy weight fabric, twill tape or fusible interfacing.  In this situation, I sewed a strip of scrap canvas between the layer of my fabric where I was going to add my grommets for my shower curtain.

Add reinforcement where your grommets will go

Step 4. Mark the area where your grommet will go by tracing the inside of the grommet hole with a disappearing pen.  In this situation, I was using grommets from my shower curtain liner as a template for my hole.  You can use the grommet piece of your grommet set (as defined in step 1) as your template.  You want your hole to be slightly smaller than the diameter of your grommet, but not too much smaller.

Trace your grommet holes

Your finished circle should look like this

Step 5.  Carefully cut out that hole (and avoid cutting your fingers in the process!).

Carefully cut out the hole for the grommet

Step 6.  Insert the grommet piece (the ring with the raised center) on the right side of the fabric, through the hole that you’ve cut.

Insert the grommet through the hole

Step 7.  Now, insert the washer (the flat ring) over the grommet on the wrong side of the fabric.

Insert washer over grommet

Steps 8.  Set up your grommet tools. Set the anvil (the indented ring), indented side up, on a hard, firm surface such as a concrete floor or solid work table.  Lay your grommet piece (the piece on the right side of your fabric) down in the anvil, so that it rests neatly inside of the indention.  Then insert the setter into the raised center of the grommet on the wrong side of the fabric.

Insert the setter into the grommet on the wrong side of the fabric

Now comes the fun part!  The hammering!

Step 9.  Set your grommet! Now, hammer forcefully, yet carefully, onto the top of the setter.  This is a great way to get out your anger in a healthy, productive way! The intent is to flatten the raised center of the grommet down so that it grips the washer and can’t slip back out.  After a few whacks, lift up your setter gently and see how it’s coming.  If the raised center is still raised, you’ve not done your job.  Put your setter back in and keep hammering until the raised center is evenly flattened down over the washer and the grommet doesn’t feel loose in the fabric.  A firm, strong work surface is very important for this part and it will take a little experimenting to figure out how much force you need to get the right effect without denting the grommet or the setter.  As seen below, my boys “helped” me with this task as we did a total of 12 grommets for our shower curtain, but be careful for little fingers!  I basically let them tap away at it for a while and then finished the job with a few good hits.

This end result is a functional product with a professional, finished look!

Our finished grommets

Our completed shower curtain, made from a flat sheet, hung using the grommets we installed ourselves!

A closer look at those grommets in action!

Hope these instructions are clear and happy grommet making to all!  We’d love to hear about your experience if you ever have, or do, install your own grommets!






6 Responses

  1. Kristi says:

    Lisa, Hope you have figured this out by now, but what you have are not grommets, they are eyelets and yes, they have only one piece. The package should have instructions. It takes a lot of words to tell you how to use them, but it is fairly simple, yet quite different from grommet installation. Either search YouTube, or go to any fabric store with your supplies and a piece of scrap fabric and an employee will probably be able to show you how to do it. To assure a successful installation, do make sure the fabric has been somehow reinforced as is explained in the tutorial. Also, take care to make the hole the proper size, a tiny bit smaller than the eyelet or grommet. If the hole is too big, the eyelet or grommet will pull out.

  2. Janet says:

    Thanks so much Rachel, couldn’t have done it without you. The instructions on the grommet box just weren’t clear enough – your photos helped immensely. Now I have a shower curtain to perfectly match my newly painted bathroom.

  3. Lisa Hall says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I found this post through a Google Search on installing grommets.
    I am working on a sewing project and it includes a cloth (satin) belt that requires grommets.
    My problem is, every time I have tried to put a grommet in, it either doesn’t work at all or it comes out TERRIBLE! I noticed in your tutorial you said that grommets have two pieces, but the grommets I bought at the sewing store did not come with two pieces and the one’s that came with the tool I bought only had one piece also, so I am confused. Is this normal for the smaller grommets to only have one piece? I can send you some photos of what I am talking about it that would help. I would be most grateful if you could help me with this, as I am getting so frustrated! I am trying to finish this project as it is a fairy costume for my Granddaughter for Halloween and I need to get it done soon!
    Thank-you so much!
    Lisa

    • Rachel says:

      I apologize for my delayed response. I hope that you were able to get the costumer together. All the grommets usually come packaged in such a way that it’s hard to tell there’s actually two different pieces. If you look closely you will notice their difference. When you open a package of grommets, I would sort them according to their shape on the inside, you will notice that on half the pieces, the inside of the circle is narrower and taller and that the other half of the pieces are bigger on the inside and shallower. But, you do have look closely to notice their difference. I hope this helps.

  4. Rachel says:

    I have a gazilion of them if you want some of mine. Otherwise, any craft or sewing store will have them, but only in those size packages that you saw…

  5. Becky P says:

    So funny. I’m making a shower curtain (with ruffles!) out of a white sheet I got at the goodwill ($1). I was thinking to myself.. I need to look for a grommet tutorial and then I remembered this. You rock Rachel! Where did you get your grommets by the way? Trying to find them discounted. So annoying that they come in 10 packs and I need 12. I may resort to button holes since it won’t get that much wear in our master bath.

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