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I thought it was about time to write a short, simple post on an unheralded style trend of which I’m quite fond: grommets. Now, there’s nothing terribly exciting about a grommet, which probably explains its lack of broader adoption in the fashion world. This functional little ringlet, whose name originates from early the 17th century French word “grommette,” (i.e. the curb of a bridle), made its debut as functional detail on saddles, armor, bridles and tents. Later, its highly functional usage began appearing on flags and luggage.

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In clothing & fashion, the grommet made a place for itself through the corset and,of course, in its service to lace-up shoes (where we happen to call it an eyelet). Beyond that however, it’s made only a few brief appearances. Two example I love are the “grommet bootie” that Alexander McQueen debuted not too long before his death and some of the pieces by U.K. designer Christopher Kane (see above).

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Michael Kors (l) and Fendi® both use grommets in both decorative and functional ways.

The one place where the grommet has seemed to find a home is in purses. Grommets got their start on purses as purely functional items for lacing and handles, much in the same way they were used early on in luggage. However, designers from Fendi to Michael Kors have found imaginative ways to incorporate grommets.

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I can, in fact, personally testify to the popularity of the grommet in purses and bags. At Indygo Junction, some of our most popular patterns over the years have been our Grids and Grommets (IJ805), the Grommet Grab Bag (IJ851), the Grommet Hipster (IJ857), and my favorite, the Grommet Wallet (IJ880). Each of these patterns use grommets in a number of ways, from accents to functional.

As well, on Indygo Junction, the Dritz brand grommets have consistently sold very well. As I write this, I am in fact at Quilt Market in Salt Lake City where I’ve seen new colored grommets from Dritz and some lovely new square grommets from other suppliers. Stay tuned as we will be launching a redesigned Indygo Junction Website soon and adding many new products like these to our collection of supplies and tools.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that many techniques that seem unbelievably difficult, are actually quite easy to do while, other, seemingly easy ones, were troublesome. For those who’ve never used grommets, I recently made a quick video on how to install them.

What about you? Any fans of grommets out there? Tell me your favorite clothing/fashion item that uses grommets, and I’ll draw from the commenters and give away a choice of a grommet pattern and a collection of Dritz grommets!

Thanks again for letting me share.

~ Amy

Amy Barickman is the founder and owner of Indygo Junction, The Vintage Workshop and AmyBarckman.com. She is a leader in the sewing, needle arts and retail crafting industry having sold more than two-million sewing patterns and published 80 books sold throughout the world. Her recent endeavor is the book “Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun”, is already on its third printing since its release in September of 2010. Other best-selling titles include: “Indygo Junction’s Button Ware” and, most recently, “Hankie Style”.

19 Comments

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    May 25, 2011, 04.14 PMby blueorchid

    I just started using grommets and now I cannot stop! I am finding more and more places to incorporate them.

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    May 25, 2011, 04.07 AMby thecrazycrafter

    I just used 7/16" grommets for a bag I made for my daughter and bought metal ones. I hammered the heck out of them on a piece of wood. My little ‘in the house hammer’ didn’t work. It wasn’t heavy enough so I had to go get the garage hammer!! I’m making a bag for each bridesmaid in the wedding and posted a picture on my blog. Thanks for the giveaway!! www.busyliz.blogspot.com Liz

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    May 25, 2011, 02.36 AMby inaida

    I love grommets for my bags!!! And I have a great pair of shoes that I used grommets on! they’re really unique!

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    May 22, 2011, 09.44 AMby Miseria

    it’s hard to say what my favorite item using grommets is, i’ve had so many over the years :) but on the close top of the list, i’d say a leather cuff bracelet, quite a few edgy belts (studs and grommets both on those), a pair of jeans with grommets down the sides of the legs that have ribbon woven through them, another pair with grommets and decorative zippers, and last but not least a nice corset with grommets, studs and safety pins. yeah, i’m a little on the punky side lol. grommets are definitely one of my favorite decorations, and i seek them out whenever possible. now that i’m learning to sew, i can incorporate them wherever i like :D

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    May 19, 2011, 08.46 PMby olymmpia

    Wow, I love those eyelets… and it s s so easy to put on fabric.. Thanks for this !!

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    May 19, 2011, 08.35 PMby sarsaparilla

    I used grommets in one of my first sewing projects – a princess dress with long, flowing sleeves (I was probably 9). I remember my mum helping me attach the grommets down the back, and I laced it up with a ribbon.

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    May 19, 2011, 08.29 PMby runningwithscissors1

    I have to say that I have not had the guts to use grommets for quite some time. I can’t even remember the last time I used them. that said, I have been thinking lately of using them for attaching the handle for a bag I am planning. Maybe I should think of using some extra ones for show.

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    May 19, 2011, 06.13 PMby mlssfshn

    I love both grommets and eyelets but the proper setting tools are very expensive. Luckily we have them at my day job and I can borrow them when needed.Grommets and eyelets are 2 different things, even though they are shaped alike. Grommets have 2 parts a female and a male, while eyelets are one part.

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    May 19, 2011, 05.01 PMby knighttemplar

    I love grommets. I use them on arm warmers mostly, I would use them on lots more stuff if they wern’t so expensive….

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    May 19, 2011, 04.36 PMby sunquistadora

    I use them in corsets all the time. Love how they look, but I still find putting them in to be kind of a pain! :P Thanks for this post!

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    May 19, 2011, 04.19 PMby Daniel Parker

    I LOVE GROMMETS

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    May 19, 2011, 04.01 PMby sade-

    I’ve only used grommet once, to make a sack-style gym bag. I used the grommets at the bottom to thread the nylon cord for the handles. While it wasn’t hard setting them, I think if I were to set more of them, I’d buy the metal tool instead of the plastic one.

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    May 19, 2011, 01.19 PMby mwelland

    I just recently realized the potentials of grommets. My mum and I went to a craft fair where someone was doing a demonstration on how to make a tote bag like the one in the picture above. I think it’s such a great idea! It’s gone onto my list of to-do projects for the future.

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    May 19, 2011, 01.03 PMby ghainskom

    This is the use of grommets that made the biggest impression on me so far.

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    May 19, 2011, 10.39 AMby dottty

    I love these things, you can do so much with them, both functional and decorative, ya gotta love em jj:)x

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    May 19, 2011, 02.26 AMby manda-mae

    I found a pattern for a great tote bag which requires grommets. I’ve been putting off making it because I’ve never used them before:-/ I hope to get to it some day!

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    May 19, 2011, 01.54 AMby gedwoods

    Great idea to use grommets as decorative elements across a larger variety of garments. The McQueen boot is great and I particularly like the Kane dresses. I’ve used grommets on corsets, but they are a lot of work to install. I will think more on this!

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    May 18, 2011, 08.29 PMby wzrdreams

    I’ve used grommets on a corset. I would use them more often but they are such a pain to install! I have 2 different grommet pliers and neither of them are able to set the grommets consistently and evenly and without destroying the fabric if they fail. I think I got lucky with the corset.

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    May 18, 2011, 08.18 PMby qsogirl

    I set grommets in my Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) costume and loved the lace-up look in the back of the dress.

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