OMG, you’re NEARLY done! A hand-knit cardigan has a few more steps than a pullover – perhaps you’ve cut a steek, worked the button bands, adjusted the fit of the neckline, tidied up the underarms seams, woven in all those pesky ends, and even blocked your garment once or twice. Now you’ve chosen your buttons with care, and you’re down to the very last step in finishing a hand-knit cardigan: sewing on the buttons. You can do it!
Steps to sew buttons onto your hand-knit cardigan
- Mark button locations opposite buttonholes using pins or locking stitch markers
- Select matching thread (or strong yarn)
- Select a needle that will accept the thread (or yarn) and pass through the button
- Secure the thread (or yarn) on the back of the button band
- Sew through the button several times
- Secure the thread on the back of the button band once more
- Check how the button sits when buttoned
- Sew on the remaining buttons in the same way
This tutorial goes through each of these steps, with photos showing the button band details on our Storyline cardigan, a really fun, classic, cable cardigan that’s sized from baby-to-big! (This design will be released REALLY soon; sign up for our email updates, and we’ll let you know when it’s available!)
Mark button locations
Comparing the button side of the band to the buttonhole band, use pins or locking stitch markers to mark where each button is to be sewn on. As you can see here, I’ve used pins. With a ribbed band like this one, it’s very easy to count ribs and see precisely where to locate your buttons, as the buttonholes are placed at regular intervals within the rib. You will need to take a little extra care when marking button locations if your project has a less obvious pattern.
Select matching thread (or strong yarn)
Usually, it’s best to use sewing thread to sew buttons onto your knits because it’s stronger and less prone to breaking and stretching. However, sometimes I’ll use a strong, hard-to-break, sock-weight yarn in a matching colour instead. On occasion, I’ll unravel a multi-ply yarn to use a thinner version of the same yarn I used to knit the garment.
It’s also possible to use thread but achieve the LOOK of buttons sewn on with yarn. To do this, you’ll sew your buttons on with thread and then go over the thread with a bit of yarn afterwards.
Select a needle that will accept the thread (or yarn) and pass through the button
You’ll need a needle that’s big enough to accept the thread or yarn you’ve chosen. If you decide to use yarn, you’ll need a yarn needle or embroidery needle because they have larger eyes. Additionally, the needle, threaded with yarn, needs to be slim enough to pass through the holes in the button at least a couple of times for the button to be sewn down securely, so be sure to check that it will fit through first.
Secure the thread (or yarn) on the back of the button band
Secure the thread on the back of the button band at your button placement. I do this by sewing three little stitches all on top of each other into the same spot, effectively making a knot.
Sew through the button several times
Sew through the button several times, going in whatever direction the buttonhole pattern allows. I usually wrap the thread a few times around the threads between the back of the button and the front of the button band. Then, I bring the needle back to the wrong side of the band.
Secure the thread on the back of the button band once more
I secure the thread on the back of the button band in the same way I started – by working three little stitches one on top of the other, effectively creating a knot. I then weave in the thread ends and snip them down.
Check how the button sits when buttoned
After I’ve sewn on the first button, I try it out. I check to see how my side-to-side placement of the button looks within the width of the band. Then I can adjust as needed or continue the same placement for the remaining buttons.
Sew on the remaining buttons in the same way
This isn’t complicated, folks! Just get out your button jar, put on some music or phone a friend, and get those buttons sewn on. It’s the VERY last step, and it’s not so bad… The most difficult part is getting started!