All Buttoned Up

Learn how to make the perfect
buttonhole with Anna Zilboorg

I love knitting cardigans, but I've had some missteps with buttonholes. We have a new mini-workshop, Knit the Perfect Buttonhole with Anna Zilboorg, and it's super helpful. I think my future buttonhole work will be much better!

Anna has created a beautiful buttonhole that's secure and nearly invisible when not in use, and it takes just a half-hour to master. She's amazing!

Anna calls it her proudest discovery, and if you know anything about her body of work in the knitting world, that's really saying something.

Here's a preview of Anna's workshop:

Pretty great, huh? I love the folded button bands, too. They look so professional.

To help you on your perfect buttonhole quest, here are some general tips about using buttons, from one of my favorite knitters, TECHknitter:

A thread-shanked button—
do it yourself!

(copyright TECHknitter)

Using an anchor button
(copyright TECHknitter)

Making a thread-shanked button. With button bands of any real thickness, buttons require a shank. Whether the buttons you use come with shanks or with sewing holes (requiring a thread shank), the shank height must match the thickness of the button band.

To make a thread shank (pictured at right), as you sew on a button, insert a spacer (e.g., a matchstick or a toothpick) between the button and the button band. After sewing, remove the spacer. Before knotting off the thread, bring the threaded needle up between the button band and the button and wind thread several times around the sewing threads, creating the shank.

Which side? Why does tradition place men's buttons on the right side and buttonholes on the left, and women's vice versa? During certain periods in history, women's clothing became so elaborate that dressing required assistance. Buttonholes on the right side are easier for a right-handed assistant to manage. For baby sweaters, you can make buttonholes on both bands and sew buttons over one set. You close the unneeded buttonholes but can switch sides for a child of a different gender.

Anchor buttons. For heavy buttons that might droop, consider adding anchor buttons on the inside of the button band. The paired buttons are sewn at the same time, using the same thread and needle. The big button is shanked; the anchor button is sewn flat. On delicate fabrics, anchor buttons help distribute the weight, take the strain, and prevent ripping.

—TECHknitter, from Interweave Knits Summer 2010

I love these tips; the hand-made shank button in particular. You can turn any button into a shanked button, adding the ultimate versatilty to your button jar! And using anchor buttons is a really important skill to know about so you don't get buttons that sag on your sweaters.

A reliable buttonhole is essential for your knitting arsenal, so download Knit the Perfect Buttonhole today!


P.S. What have you learned about using buttons on your knitting and knitting button holes? Share your tips in the comments!

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