How to Make Knitted Buttonholes

How to Make Knitted Buttonholes

Creating buttonholes is an essential skill for any knitter. Whether you are knitting a cardigan, a sweater, or a baby blanket, being able to add buttonholes neatly and securely is important for the functionality and aesthetics of your project. Once you have mastered the technique of creating buttonholes, you can incorporate them into your designs to add functional and decorative features.

There are various methods for creating buttonholes in knitting, including the yarnover method, the one-row buttonhole method, and the bind-off method. Each method has its advantages and produces a slightly different result. Learning different techniques allows you to choose the one that best suits your project and design vision.

When creating buttonholes, it is crucial to consider the size and thickness of the buttons you will be using. The size of the buttonhole needs to match the diameter of the button, while the thickness of the button determines the depth of the buttonhole. You may need to adjust your knitting tension or needle size to achieve the correct measurements.

By learning how to create amazing knitted buttonholes, you can enhance your knitting projects and add a professional touch to your finished pieces. With practice and experimentation, you will become more confident in your buttonhole-making skills and be able to create buttonholes that are not only functional but also visually appealing.

Understanding the Basics

To create knitted buttonholes, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of knitting techniques. Here are some key concepts to know before getting started:

  • Knit and purl stitches: Knit and purl stitches are the foundation of most knitting patterns. The knit stitch creates a smooth, V-shaped stitch, while the purl stitch creates a bumpy, horizontal stitch.
  • Rows and stitches: Knitting is done by working rows and stitches. A row is a horizontal line of stitches, while a stitch is a vertical loop on the needles. Understanding how to count rows and stitches will be essential for creating buttonholes in the right place.
  • Yarn overs: A yarn over is an increase in the number of stitches and creates a small hole in the fabric. This technique is commonly used to create buttonholes. To do a yarn over, simply bring the yarn to the front of the work (if coming from a knit stitch) or to the back of the work (if coming from a purl stitch) and then continue with the next stitch.
  • Decreases: Decreases are essential for shaping and can be used to create buttonholes. Common decrease stitches include knit two together (k2tog) and slip, knit, pass (skp). These techniques help to reduce the number of stitches in a row.

Once you have a good grasp of these basic knitting techniques, you’ll be ready to learn how to create buttonholes. In the next sections of this article, we’ll cover different methods for creating buttonholes, including the eyelet buttonhole, one-row buttonhole, and more.

Choosing the Right Yarn

One of the most important factors to consider when creating knitted buttonholes is choosing the right yarn. The type, weight, and texture of the yarn can all impact the look and functionality of your buttonholes. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect yarn:

  • Type: Consider the type of yarn you want to use. Different fibers, such as wool, cotton, or acrylic, will have different properties and behaviors when knitted. Think about the desired drape, feel, and durability of the finished project.
  • Weight: The weight of the yarn refers to its thickness. This can influence how well the buttonhole holds its shape and how visible it is. Thicker yarns may create more pronounced buttonholes, while finer yarns may result in more delicate and subtle buttonholes.
  • Texture: Pay attention to the texture of the yarn. Smooth yarns can make it easier to knit neat and clean buttonholes, while textured yarns may add interesting detail or provide better grip for the buttons.

If you’re unsure which yarn to choose, consider the pattern or the garment you’re knitting. The pattern may recommend specific yarns that work well with the chosen design. Additionally, think about the function of the garment and the location of the buttonholes. For example, if the buttonholes will be under tension or subjected to wear, selecting a durable and sturdy yarn is essential.

Remember to also take your personal preferences into account. Experiment with different yarns to find the ones that you enjoy working with and that give you the desired result. Don’t be afraid to try new things and get creative with your yarn choices!

Common yarn weights
Yarn Weight Description Recommended Needle Size
Fingering/Sock Thin and lightweight US 1-3 / 2.25-3.25mm
Sport Light and often used for baby items US 3-5 / 3.25-3.75mm
Worsted/Aran Medium-weight and versatile US 7-9 / 4.5-5.5mm
Bulky Thick and quick to knit US 10-11 / 6-8mm

Selecting the Appropriate Needles

Choosing the right knitting needles for your buttonhole project is essential to achieve the desired results. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your needles:

  • Material: Knitting needles are available in various materials such as aluminum, wood, bamboo, and plastic. Each material has its advantages and knitting experience. Aluminum needles are durable and provide good stitch control. Wood and bamboo needles offer a warm and smooth texture, which can be beneficial for certain yarns. Plastic needles are lightweight and ideal for beginners.
  • Size: The size of the needles determines the stitch and row gauge of your project. It is important to use the needles recommended in the pattern to achieve the correct dimensions. The needle size is usually listed in metric measurements for international standards, such as millimeters (mm).
  • Type: There are different types of knitting needles, including straight needles, circular needles, and double-pointed needles (DPNs). Straight needles are commonly used for flat knitting projects, while circular needles can be used for both flat and circular knitting. DPNs are primarily used for knitting small circumferences, such as sleeves or hats.
  • Length: The length of the knitting needles can vary, especially with circular needles. Shorter circular needles are suitable for small projects and knitting in the round, while longer circular needles are ideal for larger projects and magic loop knitting.
  • Brand: There are numerous knitting needle brands available, and it may take some experimentation to find the ones that suit your preferences. Some popular brands include Knit Picks, ChiaoGoo, Addi, and Clover.

Once you have considered these factors, you can confidently select the appropriate needles for your buttonhole knitting project. Remember to take into account the yarn weight and pattern recommendations to ensure the best results.

Techniques for Creating Buttonholes

Buttonholes are an essential component of many knit garments, allowing buttons to be securely fastened and adding a decorative touch. There are several techniques you can use to create buttonholes in your knitting projects, each with its own unique advantages.

1. Yarnover Buttonholes

One of the simplest buttonhole techniques is the yarnover buttonhole. To create this type of buttonhole, simply work a yarnover (yo) where you want the buttonhole to be. On the next row, work into the yo as if it were a regular stitch. This creates an eyelet that serves as the buttonhole.

2. Eyelet Buttonholes

Eyelet buttonholes are similar to yarnover buttonholes, but with an added twist. To create an eyelet buttonhole, work a double decrease on one row (such as a centered double decrease or a slip slip knit pass), and then work a yarnover on the next row. The combination of the decrease and yarnover creates an eyelet buttonhole.

3. Horizontal Buttonholes

Horizontal buttonholes are worked by binding off a section of stitches and then casting on the same number of stitches on the following row. This creates a buttonhole that runs horizontally across the knitting. Horizontal buttonholes are often used in cardigans and other garments where the buttonholes need to be spaced evenly.

4. One-Row Buttonholes

One-row buttonholes are a variation of horizontal buttonholes that can be worked in a single row. To create this type of buttonhole, work to the point where the buttonhole should be, bind off a small number of stitches, and then use a cable cast-on to cast on the same number of stitches on the following stitch. This creates a buttonhole that can be worked quickly and easily.

5. Ribbed Buttonholes

Ribbed buttonholes are worked within a ribbed fabric. To create a ribbed buttonhole, work to the point where the buttonhole should be and then work a series of decreases over a few stitches. On the next row, work the stitches as established in the rib pattern. This creates a buttonhole that blends seamlessly with the surrounding ribbing.

6. Edging Buttonholes

6. Edging Buttonholes

Edging buttonholes are created by picking up stitches along the edge of a garment, working a few rows, and then binding off a section of stitches to create the buttonhole. This technique is often used for buttonholes along the edge of a cardigan or other garment where there is no existing fabric to work the buttonhole into.

These are just a few of the techniques you can use to create buttonholes in your knitting projects. Depending on the design and style of your garment, you may choose to use one technique over another. Experiment with different techniques and find the one that works best for your specific project.

Tips for Enhancing Buttonhole Appearance

Creating beautiful buttonholes can greatly enhance the overall appearance of your knitted projects. Here are some tips to help you achieve professional-looking buttonholes:

  1. Choose the right yarn: Different yarns have different levels of elasticity, which can affect the appearance of your buttonholes. It’s important to choose a yarn that has enough stretch to accommodate the size of your buttons without causing the fabric to gape or pucker.
  2. Use a smaller needle size: When working on the buttonhole section, using a needle that is one or two sizes smaller than the main needle can help create a tighter and more secure buttonhole.
  3. Reinforce the edges: To prevent the buttonhole edges from stretching out over time, reinforce them by working a slip stitch or a small row of reverse stockinette stitch along the edges.
  4. Consider the button size: The size and weight of your buttons should be proportional to the size of your buttonholes. Avoid using oversized buttons that might strain the fabric or cause the buttonholes to gape.
  5. Experiment with different buttonhole techniques: There are several different methods for creating buttonholes, including yarn overs, eyelets, or simple slits. Experiment with different techniques to find the one that best suits your project and desired buttonhole appearance.
  6. Block your buttonholes: After completing your knitted project, blocking the buttonholes can help refine their shape and ensure a neat and polished finish.

By following these tips and techniques, you can create buttonholes that not only function well but also add a professional and aesthetically pleasing touch to your knitted garments.

Fixing Common Buttonhole Mistakes

Knitting buttonholes can be challenging, and mistakes are bound to happen. Here are some common buttonhole mistakes and how to fix them:

  • Uneven or Misaligned Buttonholes: If your buttonholes appear uneven or misaligned, you can fix them by carefully unraveling the stitches around the buttonhole area and reknitting the buttonhole. Make sure to count the stitches accurately and use stitch markers to ensure alignment.
  • Buttonholes that are Too Small: If your buttonhole is too small to fit the button through, you can enlarge it by unraveling the stitches around the buttonhole and reknitting it with more stitches. Alternatively, you can use a crochet hook to create a chain-like loop that will serve as the buttonhole.
  • Buttonholes that are Too Big: If your buttonhole is too big, it may not securely hold the button. You can fix this by carefully sewing small stitches along the edges of the buttonhole to reduce its size. Alternatively, you can knit a small strip of fabric separately and sew it on the back of the buttonhole to reinforce it.
  • Buttonholes that Stretch or Sag: If your buttonhole stretches or sags over time, you can reinforce it by sewing a narrow strip of grosgrain ribbon or bias tape along the edges of the buttonhole. This will provide additional stability and prevent further stretching.
  • Buttonholes that Curl or Roll: If your buttonhole curls or rolls, it may be due to the yarn or knitting tension. You can fix this by carefully blocking the buttonhole. Wet the buttonhole area, shape it to the desired size and position, and let it dry flat. This will help it retain its shape and prevent curling or rolling.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to knitting buttonholes. Don’t be discouraged by mistakes, as they can always be fixed with a bit of patience and attention to detail.

Exploring Advanced Buttonhole Designs

Buttonholes are an essential part of any knitted garment that requires closures. While basic buttonholes are functional, advanced buttonhole designs can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your knitting projects. In this article, we will explore some advanced buttonhole designs that you can incorporate into your knitting projects.

1. Eyelet Buttonholes: Eyelet buttonholes are a popular choice for adding a decorative touch to garments. They are created by making a yarnover and then knitting the next two stitches together on the row before the buttonhole. This creates an eyelet or a small hole that can fit a button.

2. Double Knit Buttonholes: Double knit buttonholes are perfect for projects that require a sturdy closure. To create a double knit buttonhole, you will work a few rows of double knitting, where each stitch is worked twice – once in the front and once in the back. This technique creates a buttonhole that is thick and durable.

3. Slip Stitch Buttonholes: Slip stitch buttonholes are a great option for projects that require a neat and clean look. To create a slip stitch buttonhole, you will slip stitches instead of knitting or purling them. This creates a buttonhole that lies flat and blends seamlessly into the fabric.

4. Lace Buttonholes: Lace buttonholes are perfect for delicate and feminine garments. They are created by incorporating lace motifs into the buttonhole. This can be achieved by following a lace pattern that includes yarnovers, decreases, and other lace stitches to create an intricate buttonhole design.

5. Picot Buttonholes: Picot buttonholes add a decorative touch to your garments and are created by folding the fabric over and knitting or purling the stitches together. This creates a small loop that can be used as a buttonhole. Picot buttonholes are commonly used in baby clothes and delicate accessories.

Remember, when incorporating advanced buttonhole designs into your knitting projects, it’s important to choose a button that complements the design. Also, practice the buttonhole technique on a swatch before using it in your actual project to ensure the desired outcome.

With these advanced buttonhole designs in your knitting repertoire, you can elevate the look of your garments and add a unique touch to your projects. Happy knitting!


What is a knitted buttonhole and why is it important?

A knitted buttonhole is a small opening in a knitted fabric that allows a button to pass through. It is important because it ensures that the button is securely fastened and adds functionality to the garment.

What are the different types of knitted buttonholes?

There are several different types of knitted buttonholes, including yarn-over buttonholes, one-row buttonholes, and horizontal buttonholes. Each type has its own unique method of construction and appearance.

Can you provide step-by-step instructions for creating a yarn-over buttonhole?

Sure! To create a yarn-over buttonhole, simply knit to the desired location of the buttonhole, then knit the next two stitches together. Next, yarn over by bringing the yarn to the front of the work, then knit the following two stitches together. Lastly, continue knitting in pattern. This creates a buttonhole that is reinforced by the yarn-over stitches.

Is it possible to use a buttonhole attachment on a knitting machine?

Yes, it is possible to use a buttonhole attachment on a knitting machine. This attachment allows for the creation of evenly spaced and perfectly sized buttonholes without the need for manual stitching. It can greatly simplify the process of creating buttonholes on a large-scale knitting project.

What can I do if I make a mistake or the buttonhole is too big/too small?

If you make a mistake or if the buttonhole is too big or too small, don’t worry! You can easily fix it by undoing the stitches and reworking the buttonhole using the correct method. It may take some patience and practice, but with a bit of effort, you can achieve the desired buttonhole size and appearance.


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