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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode Two / Grommets

In the second episode of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, host Ceil Diguglielmo and workroom educator Susan Woodcock discuss grommets. You can listen on iTunes: click here or Libsyn: click here

There are two different types of grommets: metal which can be made of brass or aluminum; and plastic. The grommets shown below are available from Rowley Company.

drapery panel with metal grommets

The drapery example shown here is made with brass grommets in a nickel finish. These are the most durable grommets, and can be used for operable, grommet draperies. You will need to use a grommet press with cutting and setting dies is to set the grommets.

For a decorative, stationary drapery, that will not be pushed opened and closed, the aluminum EZ-Set grommets can be used. EZ-Set grommets are much lighter and can be set with a hammer and a simple, inexpensive die set. The neck of the EZ-Set grommets is scalloped, so there is less metal to crimp... making them easier to set.

Another option are plastic, snap-together grommets. Do not be tempted to purchase inexpensive grommets sold in retail stores for craft projects - they will not hold the layers of fabric in the top of a drapery. The plastic snap-together grommets from Rowley Company are made specifically for window treatments, and have a longer, grooved neck and gripping teeth made to hold the thickness of buckram and drapery fabrics together. Glue can be added to create a permanent bond.

Here is a video showing how to use the plastic, snap together grommets from Rowley Company.

Grommets come in a wide variety of sizes; from small eyelets for banners or shower curtains, to large grommets to accommodate heavy drapery pole rods, and are numbered from size #00 to size #20. The larger the number, the larger the grommet. Be sure to reference the suppliers catalog for inside and outside diameters. A common size used in the drapery workroom is #15 with a 2" ID (inside diameter). If the grommet drapery is operable, you will want the ID to be about 40% larger than the diameter of the pole, to allow the grommets to move freely. For stationary grommet panels, the pole only needs to fit inside the grommet!

If you want to keep the spacing even on an operable grommet drapery, you can set fixed spacing by tacking gimp braid, twill tape, cord or grosgrain ribbon on the back, below the grommets. That is a very easy solution and will keep the grommets evenly spaced when opened and closed. See the video below for an example of how this works!

If you want to add a baton, you can add a ring on the pole between the first and second grommets and clip a baton to the eyelet on the ring, or sew a ring on the back of the curtain for clipping the baton. Rowley Company makes a special grommet washer that has a lip with a hole specifically for this purpose.

There are very few steadfast rules in drapery making, but there is one rule that must be taken seriously: always use an even number of grommets! Before you get started, make a template of the grommet spacing on a piece of buckram. This can be saved and used over and over again. Generally, grommets are spaced about 6 inches apart on center. The first and last grommet are inset the space needed for the return to the wall, and in front of the window at the leading edge. If there is a window frame, blinds or shades on the window, you will want the spacing to clear what is behind the rod. You can see that illustrated below.

Measure the return to the wall outside the bracket. This will be the "return" measurement to the center of the last grommet on the outside edge. Measure in the center to see how much space you have to clear. This will be the measurement to the center of the end grommet on the leading edge.

Drawing of an overview of grommets on a pole rod

Once you know the spacing for the two outside edge grommets, measure between and divide by an odd number. An average drapery will have 8 grommets per width, so dividing by 7 is a good place to start!

One tip for making professional quality grommet draperies is to place seams in the space behind a grommet so that is behind the rod. It will be less visible. You can pre-plan the seam placement on the template.

You can find full how-to instructions for making grommet curtains in my book Singer(R) Sewing Custom Curtains, Shades and Top Treatments or learn hands on at Workroom Tech in the Custom Draperies: Level I class with Susan Woodcock.

Grommet top drapery

What are your questions about grommets? I would love to hear from you! Send me an email here:

30-minutes with workroom tech

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