Buttoned Up: Knitting Buttonholes

If you’ve never knitted a buttonhole before, you probably think that a buttonhole is just a little hole in the sweater created with a couple of yarn overs. Not true! There are several different buttonholes to choose from, and choosing the right one is important if you want your garment to button correctly.

Your knitting pattern will usually tell you how to knit your buttonholes and button bands. But if you’re designing your own or adding buttons to an existing pattern, you might need some extra help. Check out the different types of buttonholes below and figure out which one works best for the size of your buttons — and for how you like your button bands to look!

Helpful buttonhole knitting tips

Keep these tips in mind when choosing your buttons and buttonholes:

  • Buttonholes will stretch over time, so it’s smart to go ahead and make the buttonhole smaller than the button. This will ensure that the buttons won’t slip out after you wear the garment a few times.
  • Gauge is super important when following a pattern that tells you how to knit the buttonhole. If your gauge is too loose when you work the buttonhole, the button might slip right out when you try and button it. If the gauge is too tight, you’ll have to squeeze that button into the buttonhole.
  • If your buttonhole seems a bit stretched or weak, use a whip stitch to stitch around the buttonhole by hand. This will reinforce the buttonhole and tighten it up.
  • Buy your buttons before you knit your buttonholes so you can make sure they’re going to fit.
  • Make a buttonhole swatch to practice your buttonhole. Make sure the button is going to fit perfectly. The swatch ensures you won’t have to keep ripping out long rows on your original garment.
  • Do you have store-bought sweaters that gap and stretch a bit between buttons? That’s probably because you don’t have a lot of buttons on the button band. The more buttons you use, the smoother your buttonhole band will be when you wear the garment. It’s definitely something to keep in mind when you’re planning a knitted sweater.

Crocheted buttonholes

Ok, so it’s not knitting! Forgive me, but I think crocheted buttonholes are lovely. For those of you who like to mix your knitting and crochet like me, try a crocheted buttonhole! Ragga Eiríksdóttir shows you how it’s done in this short video.
Get the Crocheted Buttonhole Video Tip.

Eyelet Buttonhole

This type of buttonhole is for smaller buttons. You’ve probably seen it on a lot of kids’ clothes, too. It’s also perfect for those tiny, delicate round buttons that you see on so many lovely cardigans.

1-Row Buttonhole

You’ll knit this buttonhole in one row and never have to worry about it again — at least until you knit the next buttonhole. Like the eyelet, this buttonhole is also great for smaller buttons. 

2-Row Buttonhole

Need a buttonhole that’s not too big, but not too small? This could be the right one for you! Like the name suggests, this buttonhole takes up two rows of knitting, so it’s a nice medium-sized option. 


3-Row Buttonhole

This buttonhole is knitted over 3 rows, so it’s perfect for a larger button — especially those large, decorative buttons that can really make a statement.

Want to become a buttonhole expert? Enroll in Button Bands & Buttonholes with Anne Hanson where you’ll learn how to calculate ratios for button spacing, finishing button bands, and more.

Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a roundup of fast, easy knitting projects!

Have any tips for making buttonholes stable and fabulous? Share them with us!

  • (will not be published)

No Comments