I recently wrote an article for Issue 10 of the digital sewing magazine One Thimble on installing prong back turn locks and thought you might like to have a read of it here on my blog as well. Turn locks are a particular piece of handbag hardware that I have grown to be quite fond of as I feel they can really add an extra special element to your piece, transforming a ‘homemade bag’ into a ‘handmade stunner’.
Turn locks (also known as twist locks) typically come in one of two options – prong back or screw in. Prong back turn locks have prongs on the female half of the lock, making them a touch faster to install. Screw in turn locks have teeny tiny screws on the female half of the lock, making them a bit more secure and professional (in my opinion).
Contrary to what many think, they are NOT that difficult to install! Read on to find out exactly how to install a prong back turn lock and click here to find out how to install screw in turn locks.
- Project you’re working on (I’m working on a Statement Clutch from Issue 9 of One Thimble)
- Prong back turn lock
- Piece of fusible stabiliser (such as Peltex 71F), 1½” x 2” (4cm x 5cm)
- Set of leather/craft punches (or a pair of sharp, pointy scissors)
- Anvil (or something to put behind your work while you punch the hole out)
- Craft glue and thin brush
First we’re going to be installing the female part of the turn lock. You should have two pieces, a front and a back. The front/outer piece will have the prongs poking out from the back of it and the back/inner piece will have indentations at each side on the right side.
On the area you are going to install your turn lock, measure and mark the centre of where your turn lock is going to go using tailors chalk or an air erasable marker.
Centre the front piece of your turn lock over the mark you have just made (upside down) and draw around the inside of the hole to mark where you’re going to cut out.
Place your marked area on top of your anvil and using a hammer and punch (or pointy scissors), carefully remove the fabric inside the line you have just drawn.
Check the front piece fits well within the hole you’ve just cut out – it should be a snug fit and not too sloppy. A good way to check the fit is to turn your fabric over (holding the front piece in place) and look to see if the edge of the fabric is sitting just inside the edge of the front piece. If the fabric is still overlapping the inner edge of the front piece, trim the edge of the hole back a little bit more and check again.
You also need to ensure that when the back piece is lined up on the back, the two pieces meet nicely in the middle (through the hole) and there isn’t any fabric/threads in the way (you will need to squeeze the plates together to check this).
If you find the combination of fabric/foam/fleece/stabiliser/interfacing etc. is too thick for the two pieces of your turn lock to meet together nicely through the hole you’ve cut, you may need to carefully trim back the inner foam/fleece/stabiliser etc. between the outer fabric layers to reduce some of the bulk. When doing this, be VERY careful not to trim the outer fabric though!
Once you’re happy with your hole and the two pieces fit nicely together ‘through’ the hole, attach them permanently by first applying a small amount of fabric glue on the outer side around the edges of the hole, and position the front piece in the hole as shown.
Carefully turn your work over (holding the front piece in place) and apply a small amount of glue to the lining side of the hole before positioning the back piece in place, matching it up with the front piece as shown.
Temporarily secure the turn lock in place by folding the prongs from the front piece over and on to the back piece ¾ of the way, partially locking them into the indentations in the back piece. Now carefully turn your work over and have a look at how the turn lock is sitting – it should be centred (in my case, both vertically and horizontally) and the lock should be level. If it’s not, simply ease it up/down/across bit by bit until it’s sitting where you want it.
Now turn your work back over and push the prongs right down into the indentations to completely lock the female piece in place.
Once finished, the female half of your turn lock should look similar to this…
Well done! You’ve just installed the harder part of your turn lock! Now onto the male piece…
Take the fabric you are going to install the male piece of your turn lock on (in my case, the outer front panel of my Statement Clutch) and make a mark on both the right and wrong sides of your fabric where the centre of the turn lock piece is going to go.
Take your piece of stabiliser and fuse it to the wrong side of your fabric, centred directly over top of the mark you have just made. (Hopefully you get your piece of stabiliser a bit more level than I did!)
Take the washer that came with your turn lock (the flat metal plate) and place it directly over top of your mark (centred), on the right side of your fabric.
Draw lines in the outer slots using tailors chalk or an air erasable marker to create cut lines for the prongs of the male piece of your turn lock. If your washer has multiple slots, check first which slots line up with the prongs of your turn lock by sliding the washer onto the male piece first.
Using pointy scissors, a seam ripper or a craft knife, carefully cut along the outer lines you’ve just drawn, cutting through all layers. Check the fit of the turn lock prongs – it should be a snug fit, not too loose and sloppy.
Once happy with the size of your cuts, place the male piece of your turn lock through the cuts from the right side of your fabric. Place the washer over the prongs and bend the prongs out to each side as shown to secure the turn lock in place.
Congratulations! You’ve just successfully installed a prong back turn lock! Make sure you take a moment to admire your handy work and give yourself a pat on the back while you’re at it!
And that’s all there is to it! Remember to check out my post here on how to install a screw in turn lock and until next time, happy sewing!
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