Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buttons, Part One

I'm finally here with the first of two button posts I've been promising. We've been having some gorgeous weather up here in the upper left corner of the US and it had me out most of the day yesterday working in the yard. What fun! The day before that I spent a bunch of time working on something for my oldest daughter Emily. Her birthday is in 16 days and I'm making some surprises! Shhhh. She won't see this. She's vacationing in the mountains with the twins. Sneaky, sneaky.

On with the show!

Not only did I finish the two little cotton cardigans, but they're all blocked and buttoned up! The orange children's size 8, if you will remember, is made with Cascade Cotton Rich and the newborn one is with Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. The Mission Falls is one and a half skeins of the leftover yarn from this crocheted project. These are some comfy, soft cardigans!

Okay, let's go over how we did this. Having already been advised by Elizabeth Zimmerman to make buttonholes on both bands and sew the button to whichever side you want by closing the holes on that side, I made both of these little sweaters with twice as many holes as needed. They were each ready for either attaching the buttons directly to the fabric or...maybe there's another way.

Bingo! I found an article in my Fall/Winter 1986 issue of Vogue Knitting about attaching buttons using the "ribbon method." I already had in mind stitching a length of ribbon to the bands of a cardigan to pretty it up, but the "On the Button" article in VK by Susanna Pfeffer gave me an even better way to do it.

As suggested by Ms. Pfeffer, I cut some lengths of ribbon to fit the button bands and then lay a bead of Fray Check at each cut end. The article suggests zigzagging the ends, but I love my trusty Fray Check--so easy. I lay the strips on a piece of wax paper to apply the goo and then let them dry completely before attaching the buttons.

Then I marked the button placement on each strip of ribbon with my spy-gadget disappearing ink marker.

At this point, it was easy to sew the buttons to the ribbon instead of directly onto the knitted fabric (always a bit tricky). First I attached each button with a couple of passes through the button. Then I worked a thread shank between the button and the ribbon to make the button stand up a little for ease of sliding through the buttonhole--that's why each ribbon strip looks a little puckery once the buttons are on. Then I ran passes a few more times through the button before working one more shank treatment just for be-sures. You can also work up a couple of different looks for variety this way. The two above are for the little natural ivory colored newborn cardi. I thought it would be nice to have one look in pearly buttons on satin ribbon and one in wooden buttons on grosgrain.

Judge for yourself. Wood on grosgrain...or the pearly look in the top picture? Good thing is, you can change it out very easily. First I attached the strip through the back of the buttonholes on one side and then I buttoned up the remaining side just as you normally would. The test remains for this to work with a real, live, squirmy person inside.

Been trying to remedy that. I need models, folks. If any of you know someone with babies and kids in the Tacoma area who would like to have their wee ones model some Figheadh cardigans, let me know by sending me an e-mail please at

I need to see if these really work on humans. Thanks for your help!

I'll be back soon with part two of the button fun. In the meantime, let me know if you have any other button advice for knitted and crocheted garments. I need your collective wisdom!

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