A hook-and-eye closure is a simple, subtle, and secure way to fasten garments. You'll often find heavy-duty hook-and-eyes on trousers and smaller hook-and-eyes to prevent a gap at the top of a zipper on a dress or skirt. In some cases, especially with a tightly fitting garment, a hook-and-eye might help to hold the garment together while another closure, such as a row of buttons, is fastened. Color choices for hook-and-eyes are limited. Black for dark fabrics and silver for light fabrics are usually the available options.
You don't always need to use both parts of a hook-and-eye. Sometimes a thread arrangement, such as a buttonhole loop eye or a thread chain eye, is used in place of the metal eye. The thread arrangement tends to lie more smoothly and is less conspicuous. Sewing a hook-and-eye closure is fairly quick and easy once you understand the process and decide the variation you need for your garment.
Equipment / Tools
- Hook-and-eye closure
- Matching thread
Sew the Hook
Hook-and-eyes of all forms have holes to sew the hook and the eye onto the fabric. The hook section is sewn to the overlapping top piece of fabric on the inside of the garment. The hook should be placed, so it won't be seen from the outside of the garment. But it should be near the edge of the area it's going to hold in place.
To begin sewing the hook, thread a hand-sewing needle, and knot the thread. Use a double thread unless the fabric is very delicate. Bury the knot under the location of the hook or by bringing the needle in and under the hook location.
Then, sew the holes on the ends and neck of the hook to the fabric, using simple in-and-out loops of thread or a buttonhole stitch. A minimum of six pieces of thread on each part of the hook (and the eye) is recommended. Sew a couple of tack stitches to end the sewing. Finally, knot and cut the thread.
Sew the Eye
The eye is sewn on the outside of the garment on the area that gets overlapped by the piece with the hook. When it comes to the eye, the general options are a metal eye, buttonhole loop eye, and thread chain eye.
Sewing a metal eye:
The eyes of a hook-and-eye closure come in straight and loop versions. A straight eye is used when the hook will overlap the eye, such as with a waistband. A loop eye is used when two ends butt against each other without overlapping, such as at the top of a zipper with a facing.
To sew a metal eye, lay the garment flat. Position the eye, so the garment will lie flat with the eye in the hook. Sew the metal holes onto the fabric with simple in-and-out loops.
Sewing a buttonhole loop eye:
A buttonhole loop eye is a strong type of thread eye that works well when the hook-and-eye will be under stress in a fitted garment. For example, a fitted gown that has a side seam with an invisible zipper would benefit from this type of eye because it's unobtrusive but strong enough to withstand holding the garment together.
To sew a buttonhole loop eye, thread a needle with a double or single thread, depending on the durability and weight of the fabric. Anchor the thread at the desired end of the eye location. Create a loop by bringing the needle down into the opposite desired end of the eye. Repeat to have four to six strands of thread loops.
Then, bring the needle to the top of the fabric at one end of the loops. Wrap the thread loops, creating a loop that the thread is brought through, and repeat to cover and secure the thread loops. Anchor the thread at the end of the thread loops, and knot and cut the thread.
Sewing a thread chain eye:
A thread chain eye is ideal for a delicate fabric or closure. The thread chain is strong enough for a regular hook without being obtrusive.
Depending on the desired durability and how delicate the fabric is, thread a hand-sewing needle with a single or double thread. Anchor the thread at one end of the desired location of an end of the eye. Sew a single stitch, keeping a loop of the thread. And guide the thread through the loop, creating a new loop in the process.
Keep working the thread and loops until the chain is the desired length of the eye you want. For the final loop, draw the thread and needle through the loop. Anchor the thread at the opposite end of the desired eye. Knot and cut the thread.
No-Sew Hook-and-Eye Closures
No-sew hook-and-eye closures are available at many fabric and craft stores. These are heavy-duty closures that penetrate the fabric. But they're not a replacement for a sewn hook-and-eye that has become detached unless you can hide the backing of the no-sew closure on the inside of the garment.
The packaging should have directions to properly attach the no-sew hook-and-eye. The prongs on the hook and the eye will penetrate the fabric, and the way in which the backing piece is attached and the prongs are bent hold the closure in place.