Jean Rivet Tutorial

I bet you’ll never guess what I’ve been working on lately ;). The jean photos will come later, but for now I wanted to post a walk-through of how I installed the rivets on my jeans. I’m doing this tutorial as an expansion of Melissa’s tutorial on installing jean rivets. There were a few things not mentioned in her tutorial that I think others would find helpful.

I purchased a bunch of bullseye rivets from They are high quality metal rivets that are sold to some smaller jean manufacturers as well as to individuals. Buying from means I’m supporting a real person’s small business instead of buying yet more Dritz crap from Joann’s.

Besides the rivets you’re going to need a few tools. I’ve included links to my particular tools:

The metal anvil is extremely important. It provides a nice, flat surface for you to pound your rivets on. You will not be able to get nicely set rivets without it. A block of wood is too soft.

Start off by placing a rivet head on top of your denim wherever you want it to be installed.


Then take your thumb, place it on top of the rivet, press down, and rotate it in place. (You want to create an indentation in the denim.)


Take your awl and poke it in the center of this indentation from the right side. Push it all the way through.


Now push the awl through the hole you just created from the wrong side of the fabric. Push it all the way through and really wiggle it. You’re looking to separate the threads as much as possible so the nail goes in easier.




Take the nail section of the rivet and push it through the hole from the wrong side. I found it helpful to wiggle and push at the same time, which helps separate rather than break the fabric thread.

Once you have it all the way through, push the denim around it down with the edge of your nail (or a flat headed screwdriver).


These rivets were designed for multiple layers of thick menswear denim. Since you’re most likely using a thinner denim (mine was labeled a 9oz stretch denim) you’re going to have to trim down that nail.

Take your wire cutters, hold them nearly flush to the denim, and trim the nail. I usually place a piece of fabric or hold it upside down against the jeans because sometimes the trimmed-off end of the nail likes to go flying across the room.


The trimmed nail should be barely above the denim.


For these jeans I had to cut off about 1/8″ from the nail length.


Place the rivet head on top of the denim, settling it onto the nail:


Then hold the rivet and nail between your fingers, flip it over, place it on top of the anvil, and tap the nail from the wrong side with your hammer a few times (I usually give it 5 taps).  You’re not looking to whack it with your entire might. Just tap it lightly a few times so that it catches.


Then turn it over and give it a few more taps from the right side. Try turning the rivet. When it doesn’t turn anymore that means it is set in securely. It is best to give the rivet numerous gentle taps, checking as you go along. If you pound it like you’re hammering a nail into a piece of oak you run the risk of smashing the rivet and distorting the shape.

I like to feel around the edges and very gently tap any areas that feel more lifted than the others. The rivet below has evenly set edges.


It isn’t very difficult to install rivets, but it is a good idea to practice a few times on some scrap denim before you go around poking holes into those jeans you just spent 5 hours constructing!

10 thoughts on “Jean Rivet Tutorial

  1. Great pictures, pics like that are hard to do well and you really did a great job.
    Love the new blog BTW, great look.
    I have 3 pairs of jeans that I have made, but I never did get around to the rivets, i am definitely going to study this.

    Thanks for sharing and have a Happy New Year Anne!


    1. Thanks, some of them required a few tries before I got the focus correct.

      The new look is the 2014 WordPress theme. You would think being in the web field I would make my own…but when I’m not at work I don’t want to code, I want to SEW!


  2. Thanks for that very helpful tutorial with the excellent pictures. I recently landed an original Calvin Klein jeans pattern from the 70s and it’s on my bucket list to try to recreate a pair. They were the original designer jeans before there was such a thing. The commercials used to say “nothing comes between me and my Calvin’s,” but nowadays there would definitely be some Spanx involved.


  3. Thanks so much, Anne. I’ve never had success with rivets, but today I’m off to the hardware store to buy wire cutters! The pics are great. I’m bookmarking this tutorial so that I can study it further.


  4. Thanks for this very helpful post and wonderful pictures! I’m currently building up the confidence to try jeans and will mark this post to help with the details!


  5. Fab, clear tutorial. I’ve set in a few rivets before, but it’s nice to have a tutorial to reference right before doing it again. I think it takes me quite a bit more than 5 hours to get to this stage though!


  6. Great tutorial, thank you! Just wanted to add that it’s a good idea to wear eye protection when cutting metal bits. You can pick up plastic protective glasses for a couple of dollars at a hardware shop.


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