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Three Tips for Attaching Hooks and Eyes

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Hooks and eyes can be such buggers! Do you know how many times I have been inches from finishing, but had to walk away because I couldn’t attach the hook and eye? Too many. So many that I developed a few tips so that I don’t have a, “Maddie, walk away from the bra!” moment. They’re not revolutionary and I confident I’m not the first sewer to use them. Most are common sewing tips that I’ve brought over to the world of bra making. In any case, they’re helpful and I thought I’d share!

Before I get started, there are two types of hooks and eyes most commonly used for bra making. The first is a continuous length that can be bought by the yard or meter. The tape is trimmed to fit the length of the center back and needs no finishing, but I prefer to zig-zag the top and bottom edges. The second is a precut length, usually 1×3, 2×3, 3×3 or 4×3. I use this type the most because it is heat sealed along the top and bottom edges so it won’t fray or look ragged with washing.

Universal Needle

When I first started sewing bras, I experienced skipped stitches when attaching hooks and eyes a lot. It was frustrating to get to the end of the project, and struggle to cross the finish line. The reason was that I was using the wrong needle. Ninety nine percent of the time, the fabric I use for bras has lycra or spandex, so I use a stretch or a ballpoint needle. But hooks and eyes don’t stretch, they require a universal needle. It seems simple, but when you’re excited to finish, you forget! So, remember to switch your needles when attaching – I like a size 16. For the same reason, I switch needles when attaching channeling.

HUMP JUMPER

Have you ever tried to sew over a thick seam and experienced skipped and/or uneven stitches? That’s because the presser foot tilts up when going over the seam, then tilts down as it passes. If the presser foot is not horizontal/level to the feed dogs, it will have a hard time moving forward; the bobbins threads get tangled too. Arg! Enter the hump jumper or Jean-A-Ma-Jig, which you place behind the presser foot just before you get the the seam, or hump. An even cheaper option, which I use, is the packet of sewing machine needles (Andrea uses fabric scraps). To attach a hook and eye, I place it behind the presser foot, abutting the top or bottom edge, and then I sew. Easy peasy solution!

If you don’t like this method, another option is to start sewing in the center of the hook and eye and go to one end. Then, go back to the center and sew directed over the first stitch to the other end. You have to be exact so that the stitches in the center overlap and lock.

Another note – you don’t have to use a zigzag stitch. I  use a straight stitch most of the time and I think it is as clean looking as a zigzag. It’s a lot easier to sew too!

Temporary Spray Adhesive

Because there are so many layers and because hooks and eyes are naturally thick, pinning it in place can be difficult, especially if your pins aren’t sturdy. They will bend or break. Basting it is an option, but I use a quicker method. When I wrote about my favorite bra making tools, spray adhesive was one of them. I use it most often to spray baste self and lining fabric together prior to cutting, but I also use it to attach hooks and eyes quickly by opening it, spraying inside, then pressing in place over the center back. I wait a few minutes for it to dry, then sew.

13 Comments

  1. Reply

    AFI

    These are great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Reply

    Lynda

    I always struggle with the hook & eye and never realised about changing needles – thanks for the great tip – I shall try it on my next bra.

    • Reply

      maddiemadalynne

      If you’re still experiencing trouble after changing needles, email me and we will work through it!

  3. Reply

    colormusing

    I agree, the tip about changing needles is such a good reminder. Even if you’re using the right type of needle, when it starts to get dull (surprisingly fast), it can start to skip stitches. And the hump jumper idea never occurred to me— I’ll try that!

  4. Reply

    Linda

    I begin at the center, go to the end, turn, go to the end and back to center. Then from the wrong side I pull up on the bobbin thread, which pulls the top thread through. I can then grab that loop, pull the top thread to the wrong side and tie it off. No thread cut ends on the right side! I use that for finishing all top stitching too.

  5. Reply

    Megan Carter

    The needle tip and spray adhesive tip will change my sewing life 🙂

  6. Reply

    Sue @ A Colourful Canvas

    Great tips…I haven’t yet made lingerie, but I’m eagerly hoarding away any and all tips on making it right!

    • Reply

      maddie

      You should try Mallori Lane for yout first attempt. Check in the side bar towards the top for a link.

  7. Reply

    francescapia

    I’ve recently started getting into making my own knickers and have been muslinng loads of different patterns in old t-shirts and scrap wovens before moving on to better fabrics and was wondering what to use when I sew s fabric and jersey together. I did think of universal but after all these years of reading that one should only use jersey and stretch needles I sort of mistrusted them – so thanks for the tip – once you recommend them, they should be great.
    Now if only someone could help me get over my hatred of sewing on single hooks and eyes – and snaps too once we’re at it!

  8. Reply

    Cecilia

    You have a great blog, and your tips are awesome. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Thank you, Cecilia!

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