Buttons 101

I was originally going to get black buttons for my EPS Cardigan, but was having trouble finding enough of the same button – seems like there’d only be 6 in stock, when I needed 7. I ended up getting some burgundy buttons that match the color of the cardigan fairly well, though they’re not all that exciting. I needed to have SOMETHING so I could call the cardi “finished”, so I put them on but might look around for something better later.

Sewing Button 2I decided to try a trick I’d heard about, but had never tried – putting a button on the reverse side for more stability. I have 3/4″ buttons on the outside, backed with 1/2″ buttons on the inside. It does seem to help a bit. This is one of the black buttons I used on the inside.

When I first attached the buttons, I noticed that the garter stitch button band around the button holes was really distorted when the cardi was buttoned, and it wasn’t because of the sweater size. I finally realized that distortion was being caused by the buttons themselves, since the worsted-weight yarn was being squished around the buttons. Aha! I just needed to sew them on more loosely, so that there was enough space between the button and the button band to allow the buttonhole band to fit in between. I probably should have gotten buttons with shanks. But fortunately, my mother had taught me a great lesson on sewing buttons (which of course, I had completely ignored when sewing these on).

So I took off the buttons and put them on again this way, creating a yarn shank (the same technique applies when using thread):

1. Stick a needle or similar object(s) under the yarn when sewing on the button. This gives you some slack in yarn, while maintaining a nice, even tension. I used my large yarn needle:


Sewing Button 1

2. After sewing on the button, don’t break off the yarn. Pull out the needle you used as a spacer. Stick your sewing needle up through the fabric under the button, and wrap the yarn around the button to wind it around the yarn holding the button in place. For yarn, once around is probably enough. For thread, wrap it around a few times. This makes a little shank for the button. Then stick the needle back down through the fabric to the wrong side and secure the yarn.

Sewing Button 3

Voilà! A nice little shank to give your fabric some extra room.

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7 Responses to Buttons 101

  1. margene says:

    My aunt was a very fine seamstress and she taught me that trick. Your EPS is da bomb!!

  2. Anne says:

    It looked really great on you too! I loved the color.

    Great to see you last night, even if it was only for a minute or two!

  3. Lani says:

    I never even have thought that sewing buttons on too tightly would alter how the fabric lay. I’ll definitely have to save this for whenever I get around to making larger garments!

  4. Chris says:

    That is a great tip! Thank you!

  5. Good to know!

    You’re so clever with the details, and your EPS is AWESOME!

  6. Anne B. says:

    But when do I get to see the whole thing! Reveal your EPS online for us folk who haven’t seen it in person! Enough with these little teases!
    Cold Anne apparantly without much patience to wait!

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