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Better Buttonholes for Knitted Garments

Do you avoid making worked-in buttonholes by knitting only pullovers or zip-up cardigans? Buttonholes give many knitters pause, as they are a feature usually located on the front a garment: you want them to look their best and be done well. In this post, we aim to provide you with the information you need to build a better buttonhole!

Small Eyelet Buttonholes

Knitted buttonholes are best kept as small as possible as a knitted fabric will stretch to allow the button to pass through. There is no one formula to follow, so you can be flexible in your choice, keeping in mind the garment style, yarn used, and the size of the button.


Traditionally used on baby garments, the small eyelet buttonhole is appropriate anytime a small button is used. The eyelet makes a round opening so a button somewhat larger than the opening is required to stay in place. The technique involves a combination of a paired yarnover and decrease (for example, yo, ssk), similar to what you use in lace and mesh patterns.


If you need a slightly bigger buttonhole, try working a double yarnover by wrapping the yarn around the needle twice, and working an additional decrease to compensate (for example, k2tog, double yo, ssk). When you come to this double yarnover on the next working row, you will work k1, p1 (or p1, k1) into those stitches.


If you still need a much larger buttonhole, Ysolda Teague has an interesting technique she calls the One Row Buttonhole, which is an excellent choice to use when an eyelet buttonhole is not appropriate.

Reinforcing a Buttonhole



If a buttonhole is going to be subjected to hard wear, the yarn used for the garment is softly spun, or if the fabric is worked at a loose tension, the smart choice is the reinforce the buttonhole. Reinforcing the buttonhole will also stabilize the opening to avoid stretching out with wear. On occasion, a sewn finish can be used to camouflage an imperfect buttonhole, to correct one that is too large or stretched, or to add a decorative touch. Using the same yarn used for the garment will help the edge blend in.



The choice of stitch to reinforce a buttonhole is up to the knitter or crocheter. Shown above left is the buttonhole swatch before any reinforcement was completed. The buttonholes in the center are reinforced with (from top to bottom) an overcast stitch in a contrasting yarn, overcast stitch in with a ply of the yarn used,  buttonhole stitch with a ply of the yarn used to knit the swatch, and the buttonhole stitch worked with a contrasting color. The top right photo shows a close up on the first two methods, the bottom right photo shows the second two methods.


Purchasing your buttons at the start of the project will help guide your choice of buttonhole to make! Before you cast on your project, take your swatch (you did make that swatch, right?) to the shop so you can see how the buttons look with your fabric.


Giveaway


One lucky blog reader will win a large Joy Hand Block Printed Fabric Bag. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us what you’re knitting or crocheting this fall. Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We’ll randomly select one lucky winner to announce on our next blog post on Friday, November 10. Good luck!

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58 comments:

  1. I'm test knitting a throw for SilentKnits.

    Rav name: LLarien

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  2. I'm working on a phone case and a hat. What I really need to be doing is finishing socks for Christmas! (asimplehomestd on Ravelry)

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  3. I'm currently knitting a scarf. But I fully intend to pick up the fairisle sweater I've had in hiatus for months. I knit it in full twice already, and had to tear it out. This is going to be my last time. If it doesn't work out this time, I'm going to give up. Savannagal on Rav.

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  4. I’m working on a cozy cardigan and cabled slouchy beanie :)

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  5. Trying to finish a blanket for a homeless man in my neighborhood before it gets much colder.

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  6. Cafe au Lait tam for me. People keep stealing them!

    Mitsubachi on ravelry

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  7. I'm knitting two shawls and a super-bulky mitered square afghan

    (crochetnanigan on Ravelry)

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  8. Perfect timing on this topic! I just finished an over-sized knit jacket and the buttons just arrived in the mail today. Now I can reinforce the button holes as the buttons are made from the limb of a white oak tree :)
    Ravelry - Themomster

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  9. I am working on far too many projects at the moment and need to finish them - with the priority being a baby cardi, two shawls and a cardi for me! Oh- and I've promised to make a dog coat for someone else's dog.

    (beluke on Ravelry)

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  10. I'm knitting a shawl ...or two ...or three as well as a fade sweater....a cowl or two....I have attention span issues...I see new yarn and have to try it out.

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  11. Hats and cowls
    sparky136 on Ravelry

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  12. scarfs socks and hats. rav name is MissBertieBee

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  13. I haven't had the desire to knit or crochet anything for months. I did buy yarn for hat MKAL but haven't even swatched yet.

    Margostitches on Ravelry

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  14. I just cast on my first ever sock, although I’ve been knitting for over 10 years. The self-striping yarn I am using is keeping me very interested and it’s really hard to put it down.

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this cute bag,
    Lostwithoutyarn on Ravelry

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  15. Everything?!? My knitting basket has a sock, a boy sweater and a man vest at the moment. And a granny square blanket.

    tktl on Ravelry

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. I'm knitting TOO many things, as usual! But it's what keeps us going, right?! Thanks for the chance to win! Mamagiff on Ravelry.

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  18. There's lots and lots of household and baby knitting happening here - we recently bought a new home and I have 2 dear friends expecting.

    I'm YeaIKnit on Ravelry. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!

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  19. I'm making blankets to donate to Project Linus ��

    My Ravelry ID is: KauaiD

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  20. wheel chair blankets for the Veterans.

    sisterrobinson on ravely

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  21. I'm working on a Window to my soul cardigan KAL and will soon test knit a cardigan and most likely an Old Romance cardigan afterwards. I'd love to knit a hat and socks soon after.
    StaceyKnitsIt ravelry

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  22. Cowls for my sisters, socks, and too many other things. A couple of winter's worth of items. Rav:pjcohn

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  23. Awesome info, thanks! I'm getting close to finishing a Lace Edge Garter Stitch shawl (from Universal). It is quite large using over 1300 yds of fingering wt. Then will start a Jurata shawl. Have started a Flax Light sweater for my grandson, too! All Christmas gifts. myzbarb on ravelry

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  24. I am working on mittens and slippers and hats, trying to design a turtleneck cowl that works as hood for myself too, love warm snuggly stuff. great bag. great tip on the buttonhole, never would have thought of doing that, I just usually sew a smidgen up either side after they have stretched out.... again never would have thought of that method,but now seeing it seems to sensible. thx for sharing. I'm kep@nbnet.nb.ca

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  25. Just today I'm blocking a fresh-off-the-needles gansey with both stitch work and stranded color work.
    I'm leesy on Ravelry

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  26. cowls, fingerless mitts, hats, and shawls
    knittingdancer on Ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  27. Two Shawls, two pairs of socks and knitted ornaments.

    knitbybitdesigns-Ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  28. I’m knitting a vest for my cousin for her Christmas gift!
    Rav ID = Catsandyarns1

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  29. I am knitting (or should I say finally finishing) one pullover and one cardigan that didn't get completed last winter.

    RAV ID: sherryglover1

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm knitting 3 pair of socks (toddlers done, 6 yearolds 1/2 done), and 2 Voodoo you love me.

    Rav ID Elixabeth

    ReplyDelete
  31. Two cowls and a scarf at the moment. More cast-ons to come.

    carolsumie on Ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am knitting some chemo caps for the oncology center Mom goes to. They are always in need.

    Rav ID: Rachel-O

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've been working on mittens and kals this fall. Hopefully I finish before December. Thank you for the opportunity. I'm tedebayer on Ravelry.

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  34. Many things - Breathing space sweater, dishcloths, Christmas stocking and a baby blanket :)

    Ravelry name: chanmc

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  35. I'm making many cowls and scarves as presents ... and using Knitter's pride interchangeable Zing and Symponie needles.

    LaurenS Ravelry

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  36. I'm not able to knit this fall due to thumb surgery. But I will be knitting when I've recovered!
    Ravely name: hardwarequeen

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  37. Lots of babies being born in our family, so I've been knitting baby socks galore. I think I'm on my 14th pair.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Working on shawls. A couple are gifts, a couple are mine.
    --OonaghFibersmyth on Rav

    ReplyDelete
  39. Jaclyn622 on ravelry6 November 2017 at 16:19

    I'm finishing a shawl and hope to start a fade cardigan or sweater when I'm done.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Working on a Romi Hill shawl....just a few rows left!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I’ve got 2 lace shawls which will be finished soon and my next project is a Fair Isle pullover.

    DJEvink on Ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  42. I am working on a fair isle hat from Marie Wallin and a baby cardigan by OGE and the Lisa Richardson crochet along blanket

    ReplyDelete
  43. Baby, children and chemo caps along with pocket Prayer Shawls for charity. Also am working on those ruffled scarves to be sold at a Christmas buying spree for troubled kids.

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  44. This November, I'm cheating on my NaKniSweMo sweater with a hat, 3 pairs of mittens, and whatever else I cast on between now and the end of the month. Have to remember to reinforce the buttonholes on a recent FO, too. Sigh. rmccoyer on revelry

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  45. Hat, scarf, sock set for my daughter at college up in the mountains.
    Mjgofish.51@gmail.com.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Lots of socks on the needles this fall (currently, 10 pair). Some are christmas gifts some are I jusr because I love this yarn and need to see it worked up projects.
    Mva5493 on ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  47. I am knitting stuffed unicorns for Christmas presents for three little girls. Next I think I will knit myself some mittens. My hands almost froze this morning! Natalie7joy on Ravelry

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  48. Always knitting hats and scarves. Items for donation and hospice are finished, washed, and delivered. All projects on Knitter’s Pride, of course! Tonikharper@gmail.com

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  49. Im hating to admit I'm knitting what feels like the never ending Afghan!

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  50. I am making Laurelie, a shawl by Malina designs. Ravelry I'd is anvitasinha1

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  51. Am making Laurelie shawl by Malina designs. I am anvitasinha1 on ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'm knitting rainbow socks and rainbow mittens this Fall. Thank yo for the giveaway.

    deblyn153 on RAV

    ReplyDelete
  53. Wips: 2 scarves and 1 hat
    Next up...Veronika cardigan!

    (kwf on Ravelry)

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'm knitting a top down raglan sweater with an all over lace pattern and using US 4 zing interchangeable needles. Haven't decided on the style of button hole, though.

    xuxena on Ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  55. Socks, and socks. I love sock Ned my new knitters pride. Jbownspdx on ravelry

    ReplyDelete
  56. Dolls with tiny buttonholes on their clothes!
    mosaicmagpie on Ravelry.

    ReplyDelete