How to Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

Are you tired of cutting slits in your bag and pressing the tabs of magnetic snaps? If so, you might want to give the sew-in magnets a try.

Sew-in magnets usually come in pairs and encased in plastic, though occasionally you will find them without a plastic cover. They are sewn into the two sides of the bag that you are trying to close. I have seen many complaints about the magnets not being strong enough. Yes, with the more layers of fabric and interfacing you have between the 2 magnets, the less pull they will have. So, installation needs to be as close to the outer layer of fabric as possible. In this post, I will show how to install and as a bonus, I will show you a way to use one magnet instead of two.

Making Your Magnets Go Twice as Far

Let’s face it, sew-in magnets are not cheap and I am all for saving money. We all know that magnets will stick to metal, so why not use metal for one side of your closure. I ran across this a few years ago when saving hardware from a purse. It had hidden magnets. One side was round, but the other side was rectangular. When pulling them out it became obvious that one side was magnetic (the round side). The rectangular side was a plain piece of scrap metal. I never used this information until later when I decided to use some hidden magnets. Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

For the metal side of your closure, you can use a simple washer. I recommend getting washers with the smallest inside diameter possible. I went to the hardware store and found Fender Washers. They had the smallest inside diameter (1/8″). So for an 18mm magnet, I purchased 1/8″ x 3/4″ fender washers. I will be using this size washer for the 12mm magnet also. Even though it is larger, it does give more area for the magnet to grab. Plus, 3/4″ was the smallest diameter washer I could get.
Note: Take a magnet with you. Use it to verify the magnet will stick to it.

By now, I know that someone is asking – is this as strong as using two magnets? Yes, I can say that it is as strong, if not stronger than using 2 magnets. Plus it is a huge cost saver.

To make the washer a sew-in washer, pull out some of those scraps of woven interfacing (SF101). Everyone saves them and wonders how to use them. Now you have a use for them. Cut your pieces larger than you will need – twice as long as it is wide. 1 1/2″ x 3″ or 2′ x 4″ are great sizes to start with. I prefer using 2″ x 4″. This will give you extra room for sewing and you can always trim the excess.

How to Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

How to Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

You will center the magnet on the lower half of your interfacing strip with the fusible side up. Do this on the ironing board and have the iron heated and ready to fuse. I fuse at one corner first, then the opposite corner. Next, you will fuse the 2 remaining corners. This will help to keep the washer centered. Once you have fused the corners, you can now fuse up close to the washer.

Get your iron close to the side of the washer and move around in a circle to finish fusing the pocket. After this step, you can baste stitch around the washer. It is not necessary, but you can if you like.

After fusing the cover for the washer, you will notice the side you fused will look raised and the other side will be flat. When installing, I will put the flat side to the outer fabric so it will look smooth.

Adding the Magnets to Your Panels

I will say this again because of its importance. It does not matter if you are using 2 magnets or 1 magnet and 1 washer. Always put the magnet or washer next to the outer fabric. These pieces are sewn in place before any interfacing is applied. The sew-in magnet is plastic covered. Your washer uses woven interfacing as its cover. The metal will not be against the outer fabric, only the cover for the magnet or washer.

I use my ruler to square up the magnet with the plastic cover so I can get a nice square when sewing. Then pin in place.

You can trim the washer that you covered into a square and pin in place in the same manner. If you decide to trim the washer cover after sewing, you can draw a square on the cover for sewing and trim afterward. Use your the sewing lines you drew to square up the magnet, then pin in place. Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

Then sew in place. Above photo shows the inside after sewing.

And this is the outside. I used a green thread so it would show and you can see the stitching. Normally I would use a thread that does not show well. Now on to applying the interfacing.

Get your interfacing for the piece with the magnet and get ready to apply.

NOTE: If you are applying interfacing to a piece with a plastic covered magnet, please be careful and fuse around the cover and not on top of it. As we all know, plastic will melt. You can use your finger to feel for the edges of the plastic cover and you can fuse up to the edge of the cover.

All fused and ready to use.
One more option you do have is to remove the plastic cover and make an interfacing cover for it like you do for the washer. This will allow you to fuse your interfacing over the top of it. Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

Note: I am sure someone will ask, so I will go ahead and say it. Yes, you can just use the fusible interfacing to hold the magnet in place – if you trust your fusible to hold it there. I use Woven Fuse and it holds exceptionally well. But remember, there will be a lot of tugging on this area, so be sure it is fused well.

Also, you can choose to fuse the interfacing first and then sew around the magnet or washer for added strength. If you do this, fuse your interfacing and then draw your square for sewing. Use Hidden or Sew-In Purse Magnets

I sure hope this has helped you in some way with your sew in magnets. This technique will help save money and will help you use up some of those small pieces of woven interfacing you have been saving!


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