Have you struggled with all the different hook and eye closures? What do we mean by 3 x 3 and a 4 x 3? What is Hook and Eye tape and why would I use it? It may surprise you to know there are definite guidelines to use when working with hooks and eyes. I am here to help you Unhook the Mystery of Hooks and Eyes.
Know Thine Enemy
First, start by knowing what you could be working with. Hooks and eyes are available in several variations, and I am not just talking about colour. Hooks and eyes are sold by the number of rows and columns, such as 2 hooks high and 3 columns wide. Here at Bra-makers, we have 2 x 3, 3 x 3, 4 x 3 and even 5 x 3 configurations. This refers to the number of hooks high by the number of columns wide.
Our sealed sets are all 3 columns wide. Sealed sets are sealed around the perimeter with a really hot knife (so to speak) to a specific size so the edge will never fray.
But we also sell hook and eye tape, which is continuous yardage of hooks and eyes, which are especially useful for making long-line bras and bustiers, or even front closing bra and other garments. And to give you the most flexibilty possible, you can purchase single-column hook and eye tape, or triple-row hook and eye tape. The designer of a front closing bra almost always will use single-column hook and eye because having more than one column in a narrow bridge space is pointless as it only serves to allow the breasts to be pushed further apart. You can solve that problem but cutting back the centre front of the bra to make up for the width of the wider hook and eye. As you can see in the photo on the right, the hook and eye ends up sitting well over onto the breast mound. This tells me that the front of the bra has been altered to accomodate the full width of three-column eye tape.
Add Set Spacing to the Confusion
Just to add to the complexity, each manufacturer also has the individual metal parts separated from each other by its “set” distance. That means that some hooks and eyes are spaced 3/4″ (18 mm) apart, while others are 5/8″ (15 mm) and a few are wider, spaced at 1″ (25 mm). Often the 1″ spacing is reserved for single row cotton hook and eye tape.
This means if the pattern designer used a 5/8″ spacing for a 2 x 3 hook and eye, but you have only 3/4″ 2 x 3 hook and eye on hand, the hook and eye you have won’t fit the bra you plan to make. The space allotted for the closure will be too short for your hook and eye. Do you s-t-r-e-t-c-h that back band fabric? Conversely, if you have a 5/8″ spacing on hand but the designer allowed for 3/4″, the bra back would be too tall for what you have. That means (for some) they make an unsightly tuck in the fabric to enable the hook and eye to fit. The same problem happens if the pattern designer has specified 3 hooks high, but you only have a two hook in your stash. What’s a girl to do?
Alter the hook and eye spacing to fit real life
Have no fear. if you check your bra back before you cut out the back, you can make sure your hook and eye fits perfectly every time. Measure the space you have on the back of the bra, using the actual hook and eye you plan to use, after the bottom band elastic is sewn on, but before the strap is sewn to the back. You can see below that the fabric is too wide for the actual hook and eye. Just trim that excess off. Then sew the strap in place as you usually would and sew on the hook and eye, confident in the knowledge that the hook and eye will fit the space perfectly.