How do you sew magnetic snaps onto a purse or handbag?

There are a couple of different types of magnetic snaps but the most popular type is the prong type. One set comes with a female part (its magnetic with a dimple in the middle), a male part (non-magnetic and fits in the female part), and two washers to secure the parts in place.

The instructions really depend on where you decide to install this snap. In general, make sure that you only intend to have the magnetic side showing as the opposite side looks very unappealing. Most people install these into the lining of the bag so if you do, make sure to install these before you sew the lining on.

First, you need to determine where you want to install the snaps. To do this, align the washers on the fabric where you want your snap and place a mark on the back side of your fabric. These marks are where you will make slits so that the prongs of the snaps can fit in place.

Second, make slits on the marks you made. I suggest making the slits smaller than necessary because if you make them too large, your snaps will move around and will not be so secure. Also, many people apply different techniques to prevent ripping of the slits. (The tear is caused by the pulling apart of the strong magnetic snaps - the tear is usually at the bottom of the slit). Some people treat the slits as button holes and sew the slits that way. If you do this, make sure that sewing you do cannot be seen and is hidden behind the snap.

Other techniques include applying interfacing (I suggest the iron on). If you do this, I suggest ironing the interfacing on and then cutting the slits.

I've also used plastic canvas as support. I cut a piece of plastic canvas that is larger than the washer and stick the piece in between the fabric and washer.

As the previous author suggested, Fray Check could also be used. Just make sure that you don't end up gluing the wrong things together.

Third, install the female or male part by placing the piece on the good side of your fabric so that the prongs end up on the back side of the fabric. Then, place the washer over the prongs and fold the prongs toward the center. I suggest using pliers to fold the prongs over.

Make sure everything is nice and snug and repeat to install the second part.


At this point I add Fray Check so there won't be a chance of your fabric fraying once it's been cut. You can also add a heavy interfacing like Timtex to help the fabric withstand the pressure of opening and closing the purse. Now carefully slit the fabric where your marks are and insert the prongs through the slits and bend the prong inward one over the other. If you bend them outward the prongs go beyond the area of the snap and could put additional pressure on the fabric when it's used. These magnets are VERY strong so they *could* pull through a lightweight fabric. Repeat with the other side and you're done! Have fun!

**NOTE These snaps cannot be glued. They will not hold because the magnets are extremely strong. The method mentioned below is not recommended.

Another method

A home sewer might expect to have to glue the snaps onto the hand bag since there is usually not a strong pull on the snap itself. There are wonderful glues to be found at WalMart or your local fabric store. The directions will tell you if they will work with metals and fabrics. You could also go to an on-line store like Nancy Zieman, of "Sewing With Nancy. Her catalog is on line and if you call, they will help you as well. Happy sewing!