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Hey Honey Bear, What the heck is a snap tab?

So, you're new to embroidery, or maybe you're just new to in the hoop projects, or maybe you just haven't made a snap tab yet.  No worries!  I'm going to walk you through it!  First, lets talk about snap tabs.  The general definition of a snap tab is a little bauble stitched in the hoop with a tab (about three or 4 inches long) which has a snap on the end of it to create a loop for hanging hardware.  Snap. Tab. a tab with a snap. Get it?   On the paint bucket in the picture, the snap is the orange circle.  The tab folds over a split key ring and snaps to its other half on the end of the tab. 

But Honey Bear, what's it for? Great question.  The most common answer is, "It's a key fob," but there are so many more uses.  Some are used to make key fobs, or dangly things to hang on purses or zippers or luggage. Some are used in decorations like ornaments or banners or hanging useful things or wrapping up cords or labeling things.  The point is, a snap tab can have many uses. Some can just be pretty and remind us to smile.  Pictured below is a Sani Wrap snap tab.  This little booger holds a 1oz bottle of hand sanitizer.  You can clip it on your keys, or on a loop of your purse or gym bag or whatevs.  It's there when you need it. 

Cute, but Honey Bear, I don't think MY machine can make snap tabs.  Oh friend, let me change your mind.  Can I tell you that I was blown away when I figured out my machine could do more than monograms?!  You want me to flip my hoop over? AND put stuff on the OTHER side of the stabilizer? Yes!!! Let's get to it!  First, as with any creative or crafty endeavor, I want you to know.  This is not brain surgery.  No one's life is at stake here.  You might mess up, but guess what, That's OKAY!!  I promise you'll learn something from it.  I'll go through the basic steps of a snap tab here for you, but most of your designs (all of the ones I sell, anyway) are going to come with a tutorial to show you how that digitizer intends for her style of snap tab to be constructed.  

The basics are this: You will have at least one layer of vinyl or non fraying material on the top of your stabilizer just like "normal" embroidery.  At some point you will flip your hoop over and add a layer on the bottom or back side of your stabilizer.  You put that back on the machine and stitch some more.  Now lets break down some of those steps and remove some of the mystery. 


My directions always say vinyl or non fraying material.  The edges will not be finished with a satin stitch or other method.  You can practice on heavy felt, but ultimately, you'll want to switch over to vinyl.  We get asked frequently if we mean vinyl like heat press or the adhesive kind.  The simple answer is NO.  We're referring to marine vinyl, upholstery vinyl, faux leather, and things of the like.  MOST vinyl is a plastic over a knit backing (to be super simple about it).  I personally do a lot of shopping at  There are many places to purchase these types of vinyl, but for my time and money, I love the fact that these vinyls have been tested and can ship to me super fast. You can get sheets or rolls. I suggest you find a supplier with a facebook group where people share their creations and answer questions.  MPB does have a group.

Another thing you will need is hardware. What are you going to do with your snap tab?  Hang it? If so, you'll need to purchase something like a swivel clasp.  I get some hardware from the vinyl site, and some from Amazon.  These swivel clasps are usually my clasp of choice because I can easily clip the item to a bag or a set of keys. I also use a split ring if I know I'm going to hang it on something permanently. Here's a photo of some I keep on hand.  

And don't forget the snaps!  It's in the name after all.  I like to use long prong KAM snaps.  They are just little plastic snap sets that are installed using a simple specialized plier tool, or if you're lucky a table press. You can almost always buy these in a starter set.  Just go for a variety of colors.  I've used up an entire set in a year, but some folks use way more. Or less. The set in the picture set me back about $14 on Amazon. 

You can buy these snaps on lots of online stores, and I've heard tale of them showing up in bigger craft chains.  I will break down the anatomy of a snap for you, too. Keep reading. 



The first thing you will do is print and read your tutorial that comes with your file. My steps might differ from other designers. You will hoop a piece of stabilizer.  I like to use a medium weight tear away.  Honey Bear files always have a placement stitch.  That's an outline of the design stitched right on your stabilizer. 

Once this outline is done, you will just place your vinyl right side up over the stitches.  The design might have a tackdown stitch that looks just like the placement stitch, or the next step could go straight into detail stitching. That will depend on the design and designer. 

Your details will stitch, and you'll have a chance to stop your machine to add a layer of vinyl before your final outline stitches.  This final outline is typically a bean stitch or triple stitch.  It makes a layered cookie of your top vinyl, the stabilizer, all those bobbin threads, and the final layer of your bottom vinyl.  This bottom vinyl covers all the "cookie cream" like those bobbin stitches and stabilizer.  You will actually take your hoop off your machine, but LEAVE YOUR PROJECT HOOPED.  Just flip the hoop over and place your back vinyl over those bobbin stitches with the wrong side facing the stabilizer. Use tape or pins to hold that vinyl layer in place.

Now, you'll flip the hoop upright and return to your machine. Your bean stitch will go through all the layers of your project. That's literally all there is to it.  Don't let these adorable projects intimidate you.  Once the final step is done, you'll take your project out of the hoop and trim it.  Careful trimming and suggestions will be a separate blog post, but use sharp scissors and long strokes instead of choppy chop chopping. 

You'll need to apply your snaps and hardware, too.  Snaps are easy, but you need to know your parts. Below, you can see a full "set" or one snap pair.  This includes two buttons (what I call the round part or cap). These have a pokey thing called a prong.  This prong gets compressed when you use your pliers properly.  There's also a back for each button.  One is and innie and one's an outie.  They snap into each other after you install them.  Most of the time you will install the snaps with the button to the outside of the tab and the backs to the inside like the pink ones in the picture.  When you purchase a kit, there is usually a die (that black plastic and clear plastic on the pliers) already installed in the same size as your KAM snaps.  You will punch or cut a hole where your prong can be inserted through the material, then place the button and back over the material and squeeze with the pliers.  The button should rest in the softer black part of the die.  You'll compress that prong down into the back and you're stuck! If you're new, don't try your first set on a stitched project.  Practice applying them to a scrap piece of vinyl first. 


You'll learn later that you can use other hardware and different snaps, eyelets, or rivets, but for now, you have the basics and hopefully the courage to get started so you can enjoy snap tabs!  Once you learn these, you're on your way to slightly more advanced projects like gift card holders and other items with an extra layer added. 

If you're ready to grab a file or two (or more...we won't tell) You can look here:

Honey Bear Studio Snap Tab Design Files

You can always join our facebook family where you can ask questions and get helpful advice from all the bears.  

Honey Bear Studio Designs for Embroidery & More

What are you waiting for?  Go ahead and stitch some on felt or fabric you have at home while you're waiting to get your vinyl delivered!  You may even have an old piece of vinyl or a discarded handbag with material you can use.  Just have fun and open up all the possibilities your machine offers. 

Happy Stitching, Bears!                                                                                          ~Kim







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  • Thank you, very helpful tips. The problem I have is the sides of the snap tab look ugly. I sandwich black vinyl with my white stabilizer and once I cut, the white stabilizer pops out. I’ve been using a black sharpie to cover the white stabilizer. Also the edges look ugly, like fraying. What would you suggest?

    Karla Zelaya

  • Love this blog for all the information here. I’d like some more info on eyelets.


  • This post might really inspire me to try! Thank you

    Cheryl Thompson

  • Thank you for explaining the snaps and how to use them. Plan to make key fobs but first need to buy the tool and snaps. Also appreciate the lesson on stitching.


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