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How to put rivets in fabric, quick and easy step by step instructions

Learn how to put rivets in fabric with these super easy steps. A leather handle takes handsewn bags to the next level – and cap rivets are the perfect way to install the handles. 

A rivet is ideal when you have thick fabric and layers of fabric that are just too thick for your sewing machine to handle. A rivet is a great way to attach leather bag handles.

A double cap rivet comes with two sides, a male and female. The long ones the male, which you insert through the hole in the leather, then press the female half of the rivet onto the other side. The cap refers to the round top of the rivet, for a double cap you have a round cap both sides.

Putting rivets in fabric is an essential tool in your bag making skills. Check out my other essential skills tutorials for bag making:-


How to install rivets

Using the right tools will make this so much easier.  You will need:

  • Hole Punch Tool
  • Hammer
  • Various sizes of rivets
  • Rivet Setting Tool

The first step is to measure the thickness of the fabric so that you can install an appropriate size rivet.

Check that your double cap rivet is the right size (depth for the bag).  This bag has Annies Soft and Stable so is reasonably thick therefore I am using 8mm cap rivets, if you use fusible fleece to add strength to your bag I suggest 6mm or smaller cap rivets. The right size rivet is important, too small and you will not be able to install the rivet, too long leads to any handle having a wobble to it!


installation of rivets


Use a hole punch to create suitable size holes in your bag and the leather handles. You may need to hole punch separately the bag and then the handle.


How to install rivets


Place the male cap rivet through the handle and fabric layers, then press the female side onto the back of the rivet.


how to set rivets


Place the rivet so that the bottom cap lays on the concave side of the rivet tool. Align the convex end of the rod on the head of the rivet and give it a good hit with a hammer (ensure you are on a solid surface!). 


how to use rivets


This is such an easy way to install rivets for any project. Using rivets in bag making is one of my favorite features as I believe it takes the finish of a bag to the next level.


how to put a rivet in fabric


I have several free bag patterns on the blog which utilize rivets, check them out:-

DIY Tote Bag with Lining

Sashiko Denim Tote

Spring Blooms Tote Bag


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Wednesday 20th of July 2022

Hi Becky -- I live in the US, and patronize Ali Express for my jewelry and sewing-related findings. It's headquartered in China, and you may have to wait a while until you receive your order (they seem to be shipped fairly quickly, but shipping issues sometimes intervene), but the prices are very competitive. I have been buying products from AE for about 8 years, and am still very satisfied with both the products and the service (putting aside supply chain and shipping issues). Good luck!


Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Thank you so much for sharing your tips. Do you have any suggestions for where to buy bag hardware? I'm shopping online for swivel clips, d-rings, and buckles (for adjustable straps). While I can find reasonbly priced d-rings and buckles that seem solid, I'm struggling to find strong swivel clips for a reasonable price. I really don't want to pay $5+ for just one or two clips. Suggestions?


Thursday 20th of October 2022

@Vicky, Emmaline Bags in Canada. You'll do well on exchange but not sure re shipping.


Friday 24th of June 2022

Hi, I live in the UK so its hard for me to advise re USA - we have the Wish app where we can buy direct from China, each item is cheap but postage adds up and you can't check the quality. Etsy is good but I don't know it compares to the prices you have seen. Good luck on your search, I know what you mean about it adding up!

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