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All Buttoned Up

Feb 25, 2013
Learn how to make the perfect
buttonhole with Anna Zilboorg

I love knitting cardigans, but I've had some missteps with buttonholes. We have a new mini-workshop, Knit the Perfect Buttonhole with Anna Zilboorg, and it's super helpful. I think my future buttonhole work will be much better!

Anna has created a beautiful buttonhole that's secure and nearly invisible when not in use, and it takes just a half-hour to master. She's amazing!

Anna calls it her proudest discovery, and if you know anything about her body of work in the knitting world, that's really saying something.

Here's a preview of Anna's workshop:

Pretty great, huh? I love the folded button bands, too. They look so professional.

To help you on your perfect buttonhole quest, here are some general tips about using buttons, from one of my favorite knitters, TECHknitter:

A thread-shanked button—
do it yourself!

(copyright TECHknitter)

Using an anchor button
(copyright TECHknitter)
Making a thread-shanked button. With button bands of any real thickness, buttons require a shank. Whether the buttons you use come with shanks or with sewing holes (requiring a thread shank), the shank height must match the thickness of the button band.

To make a thread shank (pictured at right), as you sew on a button, insert a spacer (e.g., a matchstick or a toothpick) between the button and the button band. After sewing, remove the spacer. Before knotting off the thread, bring the threaded needle up between the button band and the button and wind thread several times around the sewing threads, creating the shank.

Which side?
Why does tradition place men's buttons on the right side and buttonholes on the left, and women's vice versa? During certain periods in history, women's clothing became so elaborate that dressing required assistance. Buttonholes on the right side are easier for a right-handed assistant to manage. For baby sweaters, you can make buttonholes on both bands and sew buttons over one set. You close the unneeded buttonholes but can switch sides for a child of a different gender.

Anchor buttons. For heavy buttons that might droop, consider adding anchor buttons on the inside of the button band. The paired buttons are sewn at the same time, using the same thread and needle. The big button is shanked; the anchor button is sewn flat. On delicate fabrics, anchor buttons help distribute the weight, take the strain, and prevent ripping.

—TECHknitter, from Interweave Knits Summer 2010

I love these tips; the hand-made shank button in particular. You can turn any button into a shanked button, adding the ultimate versatilty to your button jar! And using anchor buttons is a really important skill to know about so you don't get buttons that sag on your sweaters.

A reliable buttonhole is essential for your knitting arsenal, so download Knit the Perfect Buttonhole today!


P.S. What have you learned about using buttons on your knitting and knitting button holes? Share your tips in the comments!

Featured Product

Interweave Knits Presents: Knit the Perfect Buttonhole with Anna Zilboorg Video Download

Availability: In Stock
Was: $4.99
Sale: $2.99

Standard Definition Video

Anna Zilboorg demonstrates how to knit the perfect buttonhole that won't sag, stretch, and is invisible in this video short from Interweave Knits.


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kenamaria wrote
on Apr 22, 2013 4:24 PM

I loved this video. Really perfect  buttonholes. I would like to know if you also have a knitting  technique for kitchener rib buttonholes .  I´m finishing a sweater and would like to knit a 1 x 1 rib for the button band .

JWT wrote
on Mar 16, 2013 11:54 AM

It makes me very sad when women are critical and not supportive of each other.  I loved this video and would happily pay to see other videos of Anna Zilboorg demonstrating knitting techniques.

on Mar 2, 2013 4:39 PM

I found the "Knit the Perfect Buttonhole with Anna Zilboorg Video Download extremely useful.  It was certainly worth the $4.99 price and it was also worthwhile to spend the time to learn to do it.  It gives the buttonholes a professional look.

trumpkin46 wrote
on Mar 2, 2013 12:52 PM

I downloaded this Anna Zillborg  video because I had just finished a cardie vest and didn't like the button holes. I swatched a sample  and her button-holes worked JUST as she demonstrated. I pulled out the button band on the cardie and reknit. I am DELIGHTED  with the way it all turned out. The cost of the class was a great investment.

Evol Jenius wrote
on Mar 2, 2013 8:29 AM

When I learned how to make a shank button back in the stone ages, I was taught to put the spacer (needle, pin, whatever) on top of the button and sew over it. Seems like it would be harder to see what you were doing if you put it between the button and cloth. Just my humble opinion.

isleofjava wrote
on Mar 2, 2013 7:00 AM

I have absolutely NO problem with Ann earning money on her experience and teaching ability. That's exactly what ALL of us do when we go out and get a job. At least she's not telling me I can't sell things I make using her technique like many knit pattern makers. It's my (and most legal) opinion that the pattern maker is selling the PATTERN, not the product. Ann is selling her technique. Why do we think we should all be able to learn innovative knitting techniques for free, yet pay those who make patterns? Come on folks!

Michanson wrote
on Mar 1, 2013 12:40 PM

If women's buttonholes are on the right side to make it easier for someone else to button them up, then why on earth wouldn't ALL baby clothes follow that principal, regardless of gender, since someone else will be doing up their buttons anyway?  Surely it would make the most sense to put the buttonholes on the side most handy for the parent who will be dressing them?  No one is going to be guessing if the baby is a boy or a girl based on their buttons.

LindaR@21 wrote
on Mar 1, 2013 6:32 AM

Goodness ladies, all the criticism without viewing the video. I purchased it and it is worth the money. What is so wrong with someone earning money for teaching a technique??? And by the way, it is not the tulip buttonhole.  

deb0323 wrote
on Feb 28, 2013 11:23 AM

This buttonhole does look different than the other one mentioned(techknitting.blogspot)  It is vertical rather than horizontal.

Is there a pattern available for the vest in the video?

skyesview wrote
on Feb 26, 2013 7:59 PM

Having seen Anna's buttonholes in person I'm thrilled to buy this video! It is the most perfect buttonhole I have ever seen, and I don't really want to count the years I have been knitting, including my own shop in the 80's, to teaching for over 30 years!  Anna makes her living with her knitting , and I'm happy to support her efforts!  I'm shocked that people are upset about paying for someone's hard work! My mechanic does not fix my car for free, nor does my Dr. not expect me to pay when I check out!

Thanks Interweave for making it possible to learn this wonderful buttonhole!

DUCKY711 wrote
on Feb 26, 2013 9:59 AM

OH SILLY ME!  I have decided Anna Zilboorg IS Tech Knitter.  If I am correct... I am really sorry to see that she SOLD HER SOUL, as I have respected her so very much.

If you would like to see Tech Knitters' perfect buttonhole, the Tulips Buttonhole is it.  Here are two links... one written and the second a video.  I am presuming this is the same buttonhole being sold for $4.99.  

Tech Knitter on her website.  The Tulips Buttonhole is the second illustration on the post.

Eunny Jang on YouTube

There you go ladies... and as I said before, I am Passing It Forward for FREE! ;)

Have a wonderful day!

on Feb 26, 2013 9:30 AM

Do you have an "Add to Wish List" button? All I saw was "add to cart."

I think you are missing out as this is one tutorial I would consider purchasing when I need to make buttonholes. I see many potential purchases when I read your daily emails. But if I cannot easily save them that potential purchase is lost forever -- too complicated to go searching your site in the future. Thanks!

KnttngNancy wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 3:00 PM

Three tips:  1.  I learned (the hard way) to choose my buttons before working the buttonholes on the actual project so the buttonholes will fit that button's size, rather than working the buttonholes and then trying to find buttons in an appropriate color/style that fit.  2.  Practice making buttonholes in a couple of different lengths and/or using differing techniques on a swatch in your project's yarn and band pattern  (2x2 rib, 1x1 rib, garter, single crochet, etc.) to see which technique looks best in your band pattern.  3.  Use the swatch to test fit various buttons and see how they actually look and fit before you decide upon using them. --KnittngNancy

EVElLYN wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 2:34 PM

  SOooooo correct, ladies! It seems that everyone wants to make quick, cheap, and

easy $$$$ on the net, these days. B ut stop---- that's what the whole K.D. site is

about= making $$$$.

Early on, in the infancy of "the net", one could find tips, and info., and it was all

free!!! but the "$$" bug bit, and now---NO-ONE GIVES AWAY NUTTIN'  fer free!!!

My fav. is: download on MY machine, with MY ink and paper, and pay as much

as the hard-copy--[well, darn near!!

Shaleika wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 1:36 PM

Would love to see this buttonhole and learn how to make it but as a senior - age 78 - it just doesn't seem reasonable to have to pay $4.99. Sorry.

janielaurel wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 1:08 PM

really? Five dollars to learn how to make a "perfect" buttonhole? Do you folks realize how many tutorials there are out there for buttonholes? Printed, downloadable pdf's, videos all over YouTube. I love Anna's work, but isn't this pushing the envelope a bit?  I WILL admit that your newsletter today was really good on shanking buttons for sweaters. My mother taught me how to do shanked buttons when I was first learning to sew - um, I hesitate to say it was 50 years ago, but i guess that's true. That is SO important in the world of sweater buttons. And frequently overlooked.

Wilma Boldt wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 12:35 PM

Have yet to try a buttonhole. How can I get a pattern of the sweater that is used in the picture shown?

Tilly Perry wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 11:21 AM

Yes, I learned a few things 60 or more years ago, too---but, I am always open to new ways to do old things.  Needlework has intrigued me since I tried to put together my first doll dress at the age of 5.  

I learned to knit by book.  I still prefer learning things from the "printed word"; I am in the minority as videos have taken the day.  I don't mind paying for iinformation--- at a "fair price".  Go for it, spend a few dollars and support the needlework industry.  Find out what is available in the "web" world.  It is a unique and exciting time as never before.  I love it.

DUCKY711 wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 10:56 AM

I am with you, ladies.  I am such a believer in Passing It Forward that I contribute my share all the time.  Now that I want to learn/know the tedious, technical details of knitting (a recent art I have picked up) there are FEW places to access that information without having to pay for it.  I thought (since I come from the garment industry) that I wanted to become a knitwear designer.  It may be a LONG TIME to produce the kind of garments I am accustomed to creating.  SO SAD!

When I saw Tech Knitters' wrapped button shank, I fully expected to see her Tulips Buttonhole reiterated.  I am NOT paying $4.99 to see Anna Zilboorg's buttonhole... thank you very much.

Can we please go back to the mid 19th Century?

Have a wonderful day!

on Feb 25, 2013 9:27 AM

These tips were passed to me in Home Ec 50 years ago. In the day things like this were passed on by word of mouth.

on Feb 25, 2013 9:23 AM

I learned all this in Home Ec when I was in high school. I am 70 years old. It is a shame we have to pay for these tips. Years ago, they were just passed on. People just did it to because it was the thing to do. We have arrived at the age where sharing has a price. Too bad.

motherofcats wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 8:20 AM

I have just mastered the one row buttonhole.  Looks so good!!!