Hey! I know something about a question for once!!
This fall I had to mend a huge (15? X40'?) tent that had been long used
abused misuesed and repaired badly. Problem one was working alone on an
item too big to maneouver! So I took the sewing machine to the field. It
too had grommet holes torn away, tied, taped, wired back together.
Here are my recommendations for tent repair in general and grommet
replacement in particular
Do not use glue. It will probably gum up machine parts, or make it harder
for the needle to get through, breaking the thread in tht process.
The exception is to use a paper-tuype glue-stick as a means of
basting/pinning the patches in place; but just use dots of it here & there,
if you cant pin. Actually, come to think of it I used a glue gun for this,
& only at the very edges, which I then snipped off before sewing around &
over, after the rest was sewn.
So, make patches of canvas or heavy material. I suggest you start by
"darning" them on, by sewing back & forth back & forth, cross & back, etc
etc, till the whole thing is full of stitch lines in all directions. Start
with one a few inches bigger than the hole, then on the other side go to a
larger one, then on the top put a hemmed patch which you just stitch the
edges of and possibly an X across. the first layers of patches do the
mending, re-inforcing and thickness-to-suit-the-grommet increasing; the
last layer covers all the other stitch holes & matches the tent colout; it
does not have to be a heavy fabric; an unbleached muslin or light canvas
You could also add leather washers or patches to the grommet area. Grommets
need to have a certain thickness of stuff to grab onto to keep from pulling
out. hmm, leather sounds pretty good.
As long as you have good two=piece grommets - with a washer-type back as
wide as the fromt part with the tube is they should be good. I did not use
the ones with teeth since I have lots of the other kind. Grommets need to
be set gradually, using a bunch of whaps that slowly ROLL the end of the
tube down, as opposed to fast brute forse that splits it & spreads it out.
Experiment on a scrap of layers that matches your patch. it should squeeze
the layers tight. The home sewing grommet kits are not heavy enough or big
enough. a sailmaker or upholsterer or awning kind of place might be able to
help with this part.
The hole for the grommet should be a hair smaller than the grommet tube so
it is very snug. here, around the edge, you could use a bit of glue - barge
or rubber cement; even fray-check would do to really prevent fraying.
The grommet setting tool should have a metal anvil with a groove that fits
the top - the base of the tubed piece. the grommet tube goes through the
tent, the back-wsher goes on, the sandwich nestles in the groove, then the
setting tool is inserted through the grommet and down into the anvil,
keeping everything lined up and compressed while hitting it with a big
amllet or ideally a rawhide & steel maul. Wood mallet will work, or big
hammer. Weight is your friend, almost more than force. The anvil needs to
sit on something very solid, and only barely shock absorbent. hardwood
block on end, cement with layer of leather or cardboard in between, over
leg of workbench.
The patched area will be fairly stiff, more so closer to the grommet if you
layer the patches.
Or, for want of proper grommets, go period & stitch around a metal ring.
Proper grommets are much of the key, in my mind. If you think you have a
good grommet setter, consider that Osbourn (The Tool Name on Leatherwork)
setting dies are in the $60 to maybe $100 each range. They are
substantially different from most home-use ones, thus the suggestion about
getting that part done by " a professional" .
whatever else happens, a stitch in time saves nine!
Good luck, let me know if it works or if you've any other questions.]
PS use big thread, big needles & the biggest stitches the machine does, if
going by machine. Shoe & leather repair places have "patchers" - machines
that sew anything in any direction. hand stitches need to be kept tight to
avoid shi\fting layers.
more good luck