Ball Bearing, Swivel Pasties

Hi there! I've finally worked myself up to writing this monster post. I'd bet there are as many techniques for making pasties as there are peformers wearing them. This is my own weird technique that I've cobbled together for using ball-bearings on pasties. If there's anything in here that's helpful, GREAT. If not? As you were.

So here's the end result. Not only do I love how easily they twirl, but for me, what's just as important is that the spinning hardware is practically invisible. I have purchased lots of wonderful pasties and while many of them have some sort of swivel device, I've never been thrilled by how much 'hardware' so to speak, is visible on the front of the pastie. As a result, I have developed this funny little techniqe, and I have to say I prefer both how it works and looks as compared to others I've purchased for not a small amount of cash.

I've managed to break it down into six steps. And I swear, it takes far less time to make these than it does to film, photograph, and explain. Seriously. It's one of those things that looks far more complicated than it really is. Scroll down for my own particular version of ball-bearing pastie instructions.


(I'm just using stiff felt to illustrate the technique, these aren't actually going to be pasties.)

I always start with one of my favourite tools. This Staedtler circle template.


Of course you can always trace anything round, and that's what I did for years. But I now prefer this template because it's easy to identify the exact size, and beause it has marks to deliniate the circle into 1/8ths. So that one can do this...

2 cross hairs to find center_edited.jpg

Draw two lines using a straight edge, across the circle using the cross-hairs as your guide. Where the two lines intersect, this is the center of the pastie.


Once you have traced and cut out your circle, fold it into

quarters using your lines as guides so that you end up with a pie-wedge shape.

3 fold in 4 cut corner_edited.jpg

Take a pair of scissors and cut off the tiniest corner of the pie-wedge point. Through all four layers. CUT SMALL, because when you unfold it, the hole will be four times the size of your cut. You want a hole that is too small rather than too big. The hole needs to be just barely big enough to tightly squeeze your grommet through.

When you unfold the base, the hole will be in the exact centre of the circle. You can now also use these same white lines to make your incision(s) where you will overlap and either sew or glue your pastie edges into whatever shape of you want. I assume everyone knows that part.


Once your pastie is either sewn or glued into whatever shape you want - a very pointy cone shape, for example, tends to look more vintage and classic - apply a small ring of glue, on the FRONT of the pastie, around the edge of the little hole you've cut in preparation for insertion of the grommet into the FRONT.

4 ring of glue under grommet_edited.jpg

5 insert grommet from front.jpg

You can use Gem-Tac or e6000. Either will work. Then insert your grommet so that it is just sitting in the ring of glue.

This should be a tight squeeze. AND make SURE the center hole of the grommet is clear of glue. Use a skewer to clean out the hole if necessary. The only glue should be between the ring of the grommet and the front of the pastie base.

Flip the pastie over, and push down the fabric tightly around the edge of the grommet. It should be very tight, hence the important of a SMALL hole having been cut in the previous step.

6 press fabric around gommet _edited.jpg

I'm using the butt-end of tweezers to push the felt down tightly around the grommet on the underside of the pastie.

Then, flip it back over to the front side, and use one of the hair clips to clamp the grommet into place and leave it to dry.

7 clamp the grommet in place_edited.jpg

Here it is drying on my lamp.

8 drying the clamped grommet_edited.jpg


Ok, so while your grommet is drying, let's talk about the ball bearing swivel hook. So, I use this right here...

9 fishing swivel hook.jpg

This, in case it isn't clear, is a small swivel hook that is used for attaching fishing lures to lines. I bought it at Canadian Tire, they have hundreds of sizes, varieties and even colour and finish options, but any sporting goods store will have these tucked next to all their fishing lures. Even Walmart carries them, but not nearly as good of a selelction or quality. This package was $2 or less, I don't even recall exactly, but you really want GOOD quality ball bearings or it defeats the purpose of having used them in the first place.

Also, I am using almost the smallest size of swivel I could find. This isn't necessary, but my preference is not to advertise that these pasties have any extra hardware on them! Use whatever size you want, you just have to make sure that your grommet is sized appropriately. I will be explaining that shortly.


Here's a decent closeup of what the fishing swivel hook looks like. Do you see how it's like a tiny safety pin closure hanging off of a swivel device? It's small, but I make it smaller still.

I take pliers and cut off the jump ring like so.

11 remove top jump ring.jpg

12 jump ring removed_edited.jpg


The next step describes how I attach the swivel to the pastie. While easy to execute, I suspect that this will be tricky to clearly explain. I will do my best, I promise.

17 ball bearing set into grommet_edited.jpg

Ok, so the end of the swivel hook, where you just removed the jump ring, this end needs to be able to fit inside the diameter of the grommet as in the photo to the left.

A tiny bit of wiggle room is good, but if the grommet is too small you won't be able to recess the hook into the hole like this. It so happens, that the size of hook I purchase, fits precisely into the small grommets I purchase in the notions section of fabric stores.

Once you have tested that it will fit, and the glue under your grommet has set, take the hook out and create a wire anchor for it. Preferably, you will have made sure you have a fit BEFORE you got to this point.

13 make a wire anchor_edited.jpg

14 make the wire anchor_edited.jpg

Take a piece of wire that you can easily bend, I happened to have this hair pin sitting next to me, and I just decided to use it. Obviously any wire is fine.

Feed your wire through the hole where you just removed the jump ring and give it a twist. Tight to the hook. Like a twist tie, as above in the second pic.^^

You are now going to set this hook with its wire anchor aside for a moment.


Once the glue under your grommet is pretty much dry -- it doesn't have to be 100% cured, just mostly dry-- you are going to take the grommet setting tool which should have come with your grommets, grab a hammer, place the front side of the pastie down on some solid surface like a cutting board, and give it some taps to bend over the teeth on the under side of the grommet.

6 hammer closed grommet from back_edited.jpg

This photo to the left shows how the 'teeth' look somewhat like flower petals once they have been tapped down with the little silver tool and hammer.


Before I explain how to attach your hook and wire anchor I have to show you something super important . If you don't pay attention to this detail, your tassel will not twirl!

10 swivel close-up_edited.jpg

I actually photographed this through a magnifying glass, because this is hard to see with the naked eye and is a crucial point.

The cylinder that has the 'saftety pin hook' through the bottom, sits inside that sort of bullet-shaped piece above. The cylinder I'm referring to has the tip of a pin pointing to it.

The 'bullet' shape houses the ball-bearing, and the cylinder is the part that spins freely within it.


If you do, it will never spin again. Pick up whichever swivel hook you are using, and identify where the thing actually spins. Older eyes will need help. I, for instance, need a magnifying glass to actually see it. Wherever this spin point is on your hook KEEP IT ABSOLUTELY CLEAN OF GLUE. You can wrap that point in a tiny sliver of tape if you are concerned, but I honestly do not find it hard to keep clear. Here's what you are gonna do.

15 glue inside front of grommet_edited.jpg

Place a blob of glue right smack in the center of the grommet. I actually much prefer e6000 for this application because it tacks up so quickly and is more durable.

16 insert wire anchor from front_edited.jpg

Pinch together the wire anchor you made in step four, and push it through the glue in the middle of the pastie grommet, from the front through to the back.

Have your hook ready to grab and go, you do not want the e6000 to start to dry before you've put your hook through.

Pull the wire through until the swivel base is nestled into the centre of the grommet and the nest of glue.

20 final_edited_edited.jpg

Again, please look closely at this image, I've nestled it into the glue, but the swivel area is sitting well out side of the glue. If you aren't sure what part I'm talking about, go back and look at the image at the start of step 6.

18 flatten and glue the wire _edited.jpg

Now just bend over the wire anchors on the back side of the pasties so that they lie flat aginst the inside of the pastie form. Add some glue at the centre where they comes through the hole, and also under the now flush wires. To hold this in place while it dries, you can either bend the excess wire around to the front to hold it tight until dry, or you can just use the hair clamps again...

19 clamp wires in place and dry.jpg

And place it somewhere warm to dry.

Now, I just used a blank pastie form to show you the swivel technique. If this were a real stage pastie, I would have covered the form in fabric on the front side before applying the gromet.

I would also put a layer of fabric on the inside just using more e6000 to cover the wires, make it look pretty, as well as to add extra rigidity to the whole pastie.

Here's a pic of a real pair that are covered and embellished. I put the fabric on right before the grommet.

Burlesque performer and costume blogger

And for one more reminder as to what a huge difference a swivel makes???

Lastly, don't forget you can put a little crystal on the safety pin closure, or paint it with nail polish to match whatever you have going on here!



#pasties #swivelpasties #burlesquecostume #costumetechniques #easyfixes

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