Delightful Excess: Bags and Buttons

Lacey Leaf Satchel by Pamela Powers
Acidic Seed Stitch Bag
by Kate Jackson

Crochet Me editor Toni Rexroat and I are in the same boat: We can't decide which is larger, our bag collections or our button collections. (I didn't say it was a bad boat to be in!)

And we both love it when we can combine our two collections on a crochet or knitted bag that showcases a fabulous button. The Lacey Leaf Satchel by Pamela Powers is one of my favorites. And you could make Kate Jackson's Acidic Seed Stitch Bag in any color to showcase an amazing button from your collection.

Attaching buttons to knitting or crochet can be a little trickier than sewing them on fabric, though. Toni found some tips in Interweave Crochet Spring 2011, about sewing buttons on crochet (or knitted) projects.

Button Basics for Knitting or Crocheted Fabric

A stunning button can be the perfect embellishment against a knit or crochet texture, but sewing buttons onto this type of fabric can be tricky. Here are two methods of stabilizing buttons, as well as an easy way to make a flat button into a shanked button.

Backing Buttons

Backing buttons keep the front button from pulling or puckering the fabric. The backing button spreads the tension against the button over a broader area, reducing the possibility of stitches being pulled out. Use backing buttons for stabilizing flat buttons that do not have a shank. The backing button is usually plain and should be smaller than the decorative front button but with the same number of holes.

To sew on a backing button, line up the back and front buttons with the fabric between them. Lay a spacer—a toothpick or tapestry needle—across the front button or between the front button and the fabric, leaving the holes in the button exposed (Figure 1). This space will allow the fabric to lie flat without compressing. Sew the front button and the back button together through the  fabric, working securely around the knit or crochet stitches, creating either an X or parallel lines across the top of the front button, and carrying the thread over the spacer if it is on top (Figure 2). Remove the spacer.

Backing buttons, Figure 1 Backing buttons, Figure 2

Another option is to use a piece of felt on the back of the fabric. The felt allows for more flexibility in the buttonband while giving similar stability. A felt backing can also be used for additional stability when attaching a button with a shank.

Sewing on a felt button backing

Creating a Shank

Shanks provide a sturdy space between the button and fabric, and they are especially handy when paired with thick knitted or crochet fabrics. If you are in love with a shankless button for your project, you can create a shank by wrapping yarn around your stitches, creating a stronger attachment than you would get by simply leaving a space between the button and the fabric.

To create a yarn shank, place a spacer as for the backing button. For thick fabric, use a bigger spacer, such as a large tapestry needle. Sew the button to the fabric (Figure 3) and remove the spacer. Bring the needle down through the button but not through the fabric. Wrap the yarn around the shank of yarn—the part that runs between the button and the fabric—several times (figure 4). Then take the needle through the fabric and secure it on the back.

Creating a shanked button, Figure 3 Creating a shanked button, Figure 4

—From Back to Basics, Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011

Do you love learning neat-o tips like this? Subscribe to Craft Daily and get all of the tips and tricks you can handle. Check out Vicki Square's Knitting Creative Details. You'll love making cool knitted embellishments, just like I do.


P.S. Do you have tips for sewing buttons on knitting? Share your advice with us in the comments!

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