Knitting Finishing Techniques: Adding Snaps

Adding snaps is a great knitting finishing technique.

The materials you’ll need to add snaps to your knitwear

I’ve been exploring knitting finishing techniques for my Vera cardigan, which I just finished putting together. The fabric is really stretchy and a bit floppy, to be honest, and the design calls for a tie closure, which I tried, but the top of the fronts still sagged and curled in a bit.

For a minute I thought I might have chosen the wrong yarn for the stretchy fabric, but I don’t think so. It’s an Aran-weight merino/silk blend, which has plenty of body, so I think it’s just the stitch pattern. I also probably need to block it a little better.

Honestly, I was disappointed in this project, and I set it aside in the “meh” pile. But I’m going to pull it out again, because I recently read a great article in knit.wear, about knitting finishing techniques, adding snaps, specifically. Such a great idea!

These hidden closures will add structure to the cardigan fronts without marring the clean look of the sweater. Here’s how to go about adding snaps to your knitwear.

Knitting Finishing Techniques: Snap to It!

One simple technique, infinite possibilities; it’s all about attention to detail. Become your own favorite designer and merge a simple touch from the world of couture garment construction with your precious handknits.

Fabric-covered metal snaps can refine the look of any piece that would normally use buttons and buttonholes. To use snaps instead of buttons, work any bands or other edge treatments as directed, omitting buttonholes. Covered snap closures will be hidden when a garment is closed and provide a flash of subtle interest when a garment hangs open.

Knitting finishing techniques: Add covered snaps to your knitwear!

Steps 1 through 4

STEP 1 Choose a snap color and weight appropriate for your knitted fabric. Large snaps will work better with bulky knits, while a finer-gauge, delicate knit fabric may only be able to support a smaller and lighter snap. Metal snaps come in a variety of sizes and colors and are available at any fabric store that sells sewing notions. You will also need lightweight fusible interfacing and appropriate fabric scraps for covering the snaps (see below: At the Fabric Store and On Interfacing).

STEP 2 Make your patterns. Trace around the edge of the snap on a piece of paper and then add 1⁄8″ all around to make the interfacing pattern. Draw a separate second circle, about twice the diameter of the snap, to make the fabric pattern. Creating patterns isn’t strictly necessary but will make the process smoother when making several covered snaps at the same time.

STEP 3 Cut and prepare fabric and interfacing. Trace around your paper patterns onto your fabric and interfacing and cut out with sharp fabric shears. For one snap pair, you will need two circles each of fabric and interfacing. Following the manufacturer’s directions, fuse the interfacing to the center of the wrong side of each fabric circle.

One of my favorite knitting finishing techniques is adding fabric-covered snaps instead of buttons.

Steps 4 though 6

STEP 4 Using small, sharp scissors, cut a very small hole in the center of each interfaced fabric circle. The resulting opening should be slightly smaller than the snap peg to ensure a snug fit.

STEP 5 Cover the snap. Using thread that matches the fabric, sew a running stitch around the edge of the fabric circle. Place the snap halves on the wrong side of the fabric, aligning the holes in the fabric with the hole in the female side of the snap and with the peg on the male side. Pull the thread to gather the fabric, encasing the snap within, and secure with several small backstitches.

STEP 6 Finish your garment. Sew the snap halves to your garment with neat, even overcast stitches that pass through the holes in the snap and do not show on the right side of the knitting. Snaps can match the knitted garment, adding an elegant and minimal closure, or they can contrast, making a quirky style statement. Try a bold solid to highlight the occasional colored fleck in a tweed. Or try small plaids or tiny prints for a surprise element that cheers up an otherwise simple design.

At the Fabric Store

Take a moment to make sure that your covered snaps will last as long as your knitted garment.

  • Care instructions for fabric for covered snaps should match the way you’ll care for the finished garment.
  • Prewash fabric (if washable) to remove extra sizing and dye.
  • Check for colorfastness before using a dark or bright fabric on a lighter colored knit.
  • Consider the weight of the fashion fabric in comparison to the size of the snap—larger snaps can support thicker fabrics. Finer fabrics work best for this technique.
  • In general, choose lightweight, tightly woven fabrics such as China silk, tropical-weight wool, or quilting cotton. Fine-gauge jerseys can be successful options as well.

On Interfacing

Interfacing is a specialty fabric intended to provide stability and support to fashion fabrics. In sewing, it’s often used for collars, cuffs, waistbands, and other areas that need extra strength and crispness.

For this technique, interfacing is used to add strength to the fashion fabric and prevent fraying at the cut edges. Interfacing is available in a variety of weights and styles. For this application, use a lightweight nonwoven or knit fusible interfacing to add strength without bulk.

—Kathy Augustine, from knit.wear Spring 2012

Adding that pop of color is so great. One of my friends knit a fairly plain stockinette cardigan from gray wool, and she added grosgrain ribbon below to the button bands, which is the same concept as adding a pop of color to your snaps. It made a huge difference, taking the sweater from “meh” pile to “yeah!” pile.

That said, I think I’ll use a subtle pattern for my snap covers, because I don’t want to veer away from the classic look of the project. Details like this are so much fun and can make a garment shine. You’ll find so many more ideas like these in knit.wear and knit.purl!

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