30 October 2015

Technique: Integrated Button Bands

When I introduced you to Marianne cardigan on Monday, I realized I hadn't talked in-depth about one of my favorite cardigan techniques: Integrated Button Bands.

I picked up the basics of this technique from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket. In that pattern she has you work the button bands on both sides of the jacket, since you might be knitting it before the baby is born and would not know the sex of the child. Once the baby is born you'd be able to sew the buttons onto the jacket on the "proper" side.

When I thought about the technique for an adult sweater, I realized that doing both button holes meant that you would know exactly where to sew the buttons on when you were finishing the garment: over the holes, which would line them up perfectly with the buttonholes!

Since small buttons and lots of them are my preference, basic "baby" button holes using yo, k2tog work perfectly. Garter Stitch works nicely as the base, since the fabric is springy and tightens up just enough to prevent the button band from sagging.

Patterns I've published that use this technique include:
Have you ever used this technique? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!


  1. Hi Kathleen, I'm curious...if the button hole is made of one yarn over, what's the biggest button that can be used. I'm assuming it would depend on the yarn weight and the needles, but is it really only tiny little buttons? Is there another button hole that would work the same way and still be easy to close up?

    1. You like to ask the tough questions, don't you, Natalie! The buttons don't necessarily have to be very tiny - I just used some antler tine buttons on a sweater knit in Aran weight yarn. They're kind of toggle-like, so that helps them slip through the smaller buttonholes, but they are approx 1" long and about 1/2" in diameter.
      It is a little trial and error, and I would never try to force a 1" diameter button through a buttonhole created with a yarnover in fingering weight yarn.
      As for other buttonhole options, I would consider one of the one-row types. I believe Elizabeth Zimmermann has a good one in Knitter's Almanac, and TechKnitter is always a force to be reckoned with.
      And now I'm wondering about buttonholes made with a double yarnover. Maybe the extra yarn is somehow caught into the knitting on the return row. Hmmmm...


what do you think?