Friday, August 31, 2012

Finishing School - Tips for Buttons and Buttonholes on Sweaters

Available here

  1. Pull the hand sewing thread through beeswax before starting to sew a button on; it helps to prevent tangles in the thread during the sewing process.
  2. Do a sample with several possible buttonhole sizes, before going to buy buttons. Be sure to make notes with the details for later reference.
  3. Knit the buttonhole swatch with the same number of stitches or rows that are planned for the garment to accurately assess how the button will look against it
  4. Women are always right. In other words women’s buttonholes go on the right hand side of the garment and men’s go on the left.
  5. When working eyelet buttonholes in rib or seed stitch, place the buttonhole in the purl stitch location.
  6. Use the swatch to test variations, Different yarn constructions may affect the best choice of method. Different knitting styles of knitters can also make one method more suitable than another for the project.
  7. If the number of stitches or rows on either side of the buttonhole is not equal, put the smaller number against the garment edge to increase stability.
  8. Large buttons can be stabilized by sewing a smaller button to the back side of the knitting directly underneath.
  9. If the holes in flat buttons are large enough, the button could be tied to the garment using narrow ribbon, leather strips or cord. This could be done on buttons that must be removed before cleaning.
  10. Use button pins for shank type buttons, that need to be removed before cleaning. Button pins are safety pins that have a bump where the button sits.
  11. Tiny clear plastic snaps can be sewn onto the knitting if there is an unacceptable gaping, or at the top corners of bands for extra support.
  12. To make a very small eyelet buttonhole, skip the yarn over and do a M1 increase on the return row, working into the strand beside the decreased stitch, before the next stitch.
  13. Keep trying new buttonhole methods, knitters invent new versions and old forgotten methods get rediscovered.
  14. A too loose buttonhole can be tightened up with a needle and thread. Use thread that closely matches the yarn colour. Take one or two tiny stitches at the end of the buttonhole to make it smaller. 
  15. Choose buttons that have shanks.This will help to alleviate the problem of the button band being pushed out of alignment at every button. It will also help stop the buttonhole from being stretched out of shape.
  16. Or create a thread shank by placing a double pointed needle between the button and the garment. Use a single stitch to first anchor the double pointed needle and then sew the button in place without breaking the yarn. Remove the double pointed needle and finish by wrapping the thread around the thread from the garment to the button before securing it. The length of the shank should correspond with the thickness of the knitted fabric so that the button will sit on top without crushing the stitches. Choose the double pointed needle to correspond with the thickness of the knitted fabric and to create a shank of an appropriate length.
  17. Create a shank for a button with holes, by using a bead. It's best to choose one that is a good colour match and that has smooth edges that will not break the thread. It also needs to be of a material that will withstand whatever cleaning method is required.
  18. Create the shank with a small clear button under the fashion button. When it is sewn on, make sure the holes line up and sew through both buttons at the same time. Two buttons stacked will create a longer shank.
  19. To decide how many stitches to use while working a one row buttonhole sample swatch, place the button on the knitting and count how many stitches it covers. Subtract one stitch, and try the first sample with that number. Adjust up or down according to the results.
  20. If thread colour can't be matched, the next best choice is a grey thread that disappears when laid across the knitting. Squint slightly to choose between shades of grey.
  21. Vary the size of eyelet buttonholes by working into the back of the yarn over loop instead of the front.
  22. Some knitters find a crochet cast on is neater than a cable cast on method for adding stitches when making multi- stitch buttonholes.
  23. Flat four-hole buttons can be attached in a decorative stitching pattern in an X or square formation, or in parallel rows.

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