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How to Attach Rivets

Rivets are used for several purposes; whether as a decoration or to attach an item to another item, you can use rivets for anything as they are extremely versatile and simple to work with.

In this tutorial I am going to walk you through the steps of using rivets to attach a piece of something to another, well, piece of something else 😑

To get started, you'll need some tools:

Tools for working with rivets

I've got my rotary leather punch (but you can use anything that will make a hole, really), a mallet, an awl, and my setting tools. Setting tools consist of a post that sits atop the rivet cap and a domed base, where you will place the bottom of the rivet. If you purchase a pack of rivets, setting tools will usually come with them.

In this example, I am attaching a leather logo badge to a Gypsy Rose Threads handbag. First, I am going to punch my holes in the badge where I want my rivets to go. Again, feel free to use any other sharp and pointy object. I will say though, this rotary punch is awesome if you are doing a lot of projects like this or that require various sized holes.

Okay, anyway, I've punched four holes in each of the corners of my badge logo. Then, I've used my awl to poke a small hole into the purse fabric until I can just see it sticking out on the inside of the purse.

Poke holes through bottom piece of fabric

I want to now grab a rivet and place it through the front of my badge logo. There is a small opening at the end of the rivet that I will place the tip of my awl. I've found that this works the best and is more like a little shortcut trick I discovered after several (and way more complicated) fails to accomplish this step. You could also just hold the fabric in place and try poking the rivet post through the hole you've created. Whatever your preference.

Inside view of rivet attachment

Now I'm going to place my domed base on the inside of the purse and sit it flat on my table with the domed part facing up (toward the inside lining of the purse). The top of the rivet should sit right in the center of the curved surface of the base.

Then on the outside of the purse, I will place my rivet cap on the end of the rivet post.

Once I've gotten this far, I am going to take my setting tool and place its domed edge on top of the rivet cap. Make sure everything is centered and sturdy, and my favorite part 😃, give the top of the setter a swift whack. Usually you will only need one clean hit, but if your rivet doesn't feel set all the way, feel free to hit it again. And again. Once more. K, stop.

Seriously though, once or twice is probably sufficient.

*Note* I've found that even small rivets might be too long for the project I am working on. If this is the case, all you need to do is file the edge of the rivet post down a bit. If the rivet is too long for your project, the rivet will set crooked and the strength and integrity of the post is compromised. I use a table sander, but have also used a dremmel with the little sandpaper looking round attachment.

Repeat this process for any other holes you've created and there you have it!

If you find that one of the rivets did not set properly, simply take a set of pliers or some wire cutters and carefully remove the cap off of the rivet post. Because it didn't set properly, there's a good chance it's loose and will come off with some patience and determination.

Definitely practice a couple times first on scrap material to make sure you've gotten the hang of it before attempting to rivet a project. I never do because I'm way too impatience. But practice definitely does make perfect!

Gypsy Rose Threads logo with rivets

If you've followed and used this tutorial, I'd love to hear your feedback and see how your own projects came out!

Happy riveting!

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