I hate needle-and-thread sewing. So when I knit a project that calls for it, like a cardigan with buttons or a skirt with a zipper, I want to make sure I don't have to do it more than once. The buttons need to stay on; the zipper must stay put.
I have some tricks I use to make certain of this. I photographed them while finishing this Garden Windows cardigan.
The first step is to make sure the thread stays in the fabric. I have sewn buttons on only to have the original knot I made in the thread pull all the way through at the last minute, leaving the button only precariously attached to the garment.
To prevent this, I implement a three step trick. I use the thread doubled and make a large knot at the end. Then I sew through the button once without tugging tightly (the knot does not need to be flush against the fabric). The last step is to take the thread around the original knot, pass the needle through the new loop, and, making sure the knot stays inside the loop, pull firmly, thereby tying another knot around the original knot.
Next, I want to make sure the button is on securely. This involves running the needle through (not under) several knit stitches at each pass.
Making sure the needle pierces the yarn helps the button lie flat against the fabric. Taking the thread through several stitches ensures that it will stay put even if one stitch has a weak spot in the yarn.
After sewing the button securely (as many times as the shank or holes will comfortably allow) it's time to fasten off. First, tie multiple knots on top of each other by holding each new loop close to the knit fabric before pulling tight. Then pass the needle through several knit stitches in a circle around that knot, and make another multiple knot on top of the first one. Finally, make one more pass through the knit stitches and cut the thread.
Your button will be sewn on quite securely even if you skip a couple of these precautions, but I don't think it takes much extra time---and I prefer to take extra care the first time than have a button fall off just when I want to wear a particular item. I used this method to sew the buttons on a coat I've worn every winter for the past fifteen years (even in the last months of a pregnancy) and they're just as firm as the day I knit them!
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
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