Techniques in Depth: How to Attach Buttons

June 4, 2018

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26 Comments
  • Very good, instructive article. Having figured all this out the hard way, in bits and pieces over decades, it’s good to have the knowledge gathered together.
    That said, I have just discovered the magic of a button band in ribbon to stabilize a sweater edge. Even a chiffon ribbon works magic to suddenly make that edge clean and straight and finished-looking.

  • This is very helpful! I’m a seamstress as well as a knitter and I have always struggled with button-attachment! Thank you!

  • It was “kismet” that this appeared in my email this morning. I am exactly at this point in the finishing of a sweater and was obsessing about how to do it “the right way!”
    Kate’s explanations and, more importantly, her photos are so thorough. I will proceed with confidence. Now, to find a bit of ribbon that matches the sweater…

  • Another excellent article! My mind was blown as soon as I read – wrap the buttons in aluminum foil.

  • Wow, this article was both more helpful and more interesting than I would have thought given the topic. A testament to great writing!

  • Excellent tutorial! The only addition that I would make is to use thread labeled ‘Hand quilting thread’. It’s very smooth, strong and not as heavy/bulky as the craft/carpet thread, easier to use. Personally, I love sewing on the buttons–it means finished!

  • The photo of ribbon sewn to the back showed a fraying cut edge at the bottom. I’m sure you wanted to fold under a quarter inch and stitch that down, right?

  • Why would you ever leave a sloppily sewn on ribbon band backing and think it was okay? My Mom was a professional seamstress (she made wedding gowns among other things), and she always said, “Do it correctly.” I redid so many things when I was younger under her tutorage to get it right. If you have knit a masterpiece of a sweater, why would you ever settle for less when finishing it?

    • Kate notes above that the stitching “will be worked in thread that matches your ribbon, and [as] it’s on the inside of your work, the beauty of the stitching isn’t important.” I don’t enjoy sewing and am not very good at it, so I found her advice comforting.

  • When doing a knit-as-you-go band like the sample in your illustrations, you can work a “wrong” stitch, or better, a wrap or two, on the button side to save time later. That’s if you work both fronts at once, of course.

  • WOW! Just in time. I’m ready to attach buttons for Mint Julep cardigan, by Baby Cocktails. I can’t believe the timing……knitting karma.

  • Excellent article! For those special buttons that you really want to use but now sure how they will stand up or for a baby sweater not knowing the sex — I make matching sets of buttonholes. The buttons are then sewn on a strip of ribbon or put in a crochet chain. Means the buttons can be easily removed for washing or stitched more permanently when you decide which side they are needed on.

    • I had to read that twice to form the right mental picture. Very interesting technique and one that I will try. Thank you!

    • What a great idea!

  • OMG!!! Every time MDK publishes an article about something that I think I know how to do (and have been doing for 20 years) I learn that I’ve been doing it incorrectly this whole time! Thank you!

  • Great instructions! I don’t like dealing with the thread knot. I use the no knot method – take a double-length of thread, fold it in half, put the two ends through the eye of the needle. You can take your first stitch through the loop at the end of your thread.

    • This is genius, especially for handknits where the ends of the threads would otherwise always poke out.

      • One of those nice tips from the embroidery/cross stitch world.

        • Chelle, can you explain this more fully? I get that you can take your first stitch through the loop, but what happens when you’re done sewing the button? Don’t you still have ends? I’m not getting this.

    • Judy, it’s only no knot at the beginning. There’s still a knot to be made at the end of the button sewing, sadly. But at least it saves you 50% of knotdom.

  • Thank you for the excellent tutorial. Your contributions to MDK are always among my favorites. Now I just need to finish my cardigan.

  • This is so helpful, particularly for someone like me, whose sewing skills are rudimentary at best! Definitely a clip ‘n’ save article! Thank you!

  • Great, easy to follow article!

  • I have needed this article for a long, long time!!

  • What great timing for me — I have been putting off sewing a mere 3 buttons on my Tea Leaves Cardigan in worsted yarn. I will make a shank since I bought flat buttons — thanks for the tutorial! I learned more than one thing in this article — it’s getting bookmarked!

  • Please publish this in pamphlet or book form! This is an amazing article that I am going to re-read a few times! Great reference material and ideas!