Must-Know Tips for Choosing the Right Button for Your Knitting Projects

Measure the buttonhole. Find a corresponding button. If only choosing buttons for knitting projects were that simple!

The world of buttons for knitting projects is almost as overwhelming as the world of yarn, with so many sizes, colors, and weights to pick from. The choice is equally as important as choosing yarn, because the right buttons can dictate the entire look of your finished project.

Consider these tips next time you’re choosing buttons for knitting projects.

Choosing buttons for your knitting

Unique buttons from my LYS

What’s your budget?

Some buttons can cost a pretty penny. Are you willing to spend more money for more unique buttons? If not, that’s ok! There are plenty of budget-friendly buttons out there. If you’re on a budget but still want a unique button, try second-hand stores. They often have old buttons that are both unique and inexpensive. If money is no object, go nuts! Your local yarn store is sure to have a big selection of buttons you won’t find just anywhere.

Button size

Know how big you want the button to be before you make a purchase. It’s not as simple as measuring the buttonhole and choosing a button that’s the same size. The button should actually be a bit larger than the buttonhole so that the button won’t slip right out.

Brenda Lavell, who designed the beautiful cowl pictured above, has a tip that I really love. She suggests knitting a little buttonhole swatch with the yarn you used and taking that on your shopping excursion. This way you can test all the buttons and make sure it fits.

(You can read more of Brenda’s tips for choosing buttons here.)

Project style

Buttons can determine the look and style of a project. Do you want your project to look dressy? A sparkly button might be the way to go. Going casual? Maybe a wooden button would work. The best way to find out if it’s right for you is to test it. Don’t be shy about bringing your knitted project to the store and holding the buttons up to it. Most store owners — especially yarn store owners — totally understand why you need to do that!

How light or heavy is the project?

Test the button weight. I’ve been tempted by many buttons that are surprisingly heavy when I pick them up. Using a heavy button on a light, lacy project is bad  news, because that button will pull on the fabric with its weight. Likewise, a small, light button can get swallowed up by yarn that’s heavy.

How will you wash your garment?

If you’re planning to hand wash your garment, you don’t have to be too picky about the button. However, if you’re planning on putting that sucker through the washing machine,  you’ll need to choose wisely. Some buttons are fragile and can show wear or even scratches when they’re knocked around a washer.

Shank vs. holes

Take a peek at the buttons on your heaviest coat. It probably has a shank button rather than a button with holes so that the thick fabric of your coat can still fit underneath the button. Consider buying a shank button if you’re knitting with a super-bulky weight yarn.

When to shop

Some knitters like to have all their supplies on hand when they start knitting. Me? I like to mull things over for a long time. As I’m knitting a project that has buttons, I think about what types of buttons will look best. This gives me plenty of time to think about my decision. The other advantage is that when you finish the project, you can take it with you to the store to find the perfect button!

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Knit with us!

Did you see our December Knit-Along? It featured a gorgeous cozy scarf with buttons. Get the Knit-Along kit today and yours will come with two beautiful Austrian pine buttons. No need to make that tough button decision!

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