theraineysisters knitting and so much more

November 17, 2012

From Sally — Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

Filed under: Updates — surly @ 3:31 pm

I have an almost finished sweater: Burr, the same sweater Susan finished recently. I just need to weave in a few ends and sew on the buttons, and therein lies the problem.

I have buttons that I love with this yarn color. Here’s a photo when I was working on the button band and collar.

The problem, though, is that these glass buttons are as heavy as they are beautiful. Even when I sew them on with a small button to the inside for “balance,” they want to dangle or hang down a bit. If I button the sweater, they’ll be fine. But I know that I may not want to wear it buttoned every single moment. Here is another quickie photo of the buttons laid out on the (almost) finished piece.

I’ve experimented with other buttons, but I don’t love them the way I love the glass ones.

What to do?

PS from Susan — I had the same problem finding buttons.  I ordered some and they were too heavy.  I ended up with wooden buttons:

I do really like them now, but was disappointed at first because I had my heart set on something else…


  1. I like the metal ones a lot! True the red glass ones are stunning, but you must be practical.

    Comment by lv2knit — November 17, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  2. Changing buttons only takes a few minutes- I’d sew on the glass ones and see if it really annoys you when you’re wearing the sweater.

    Comment by Wendy — November 17, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  3. Is there something you can add to the back of the button itself, that will keep the edges from tipping? I’m thinking of pop-up foam pieces used in scrapbooking – attached the the backside of the button, so that when it wants to sag, there’s no room to sag (because of the pop up foam piece). Is there something like that for buttons/knitting? Some sort of spacer of some kind?

    Comment by Amy — November 17, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  4. I would go with a classic wood button. Always looks good and they are not heavy.

    Comment by SJ — November 17, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  5. The glass buttons are very pretty and colorful, but personally I prefer the metal ones as a complement to the sweater. To my eye, the glass ones almost distract the eye from the elegant qualities of the knitting.

    Comment by Quinn — November 17, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  6. Forget you even own the pretty glass buttons. I put heavy buttons on one cardigan, and it didn’t get worn at all. While I haven’t found the perfect buttons yet, I did replace the heavy ones. And, as to searching for more perfect buttons, I’ve done this (this is the second time, and I was successful the first time). I knit a short course of ribbing, and put in a buttonhole. I carried this with me, tucked into a pocket whenever I was going to be any place that sold buttons (and it lived in the glove compartment of the car when I wasn’t in button places), and because I had such a great swatch, I did find buttons. Without relying on my (imperfect) memory.

    Comment by Susan — November 17, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

  7. If it would make any difference compared to using small buttons as backing buttons, I have a big bag of 3/4″ clear plastic backing buttons, and I would be happy to toss some in an envelope and mail them to you.

    Will it really matter if the buttons dangle when the cardigan isn’t buttoned?

    If you don’t use them for this cardigan, what else would you use them on that wouldn’t have the same issue?

    Comment by Cheryl S. — November 17, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

  8. You might try piercing the button band with the shank and sewing it so that the threads hold the shank buried. Though I tend to agree with other commenters – the metal buttons are classic.

    Comment by twinsetellen — November 17, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  9. I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think the silver button looks better. The glass buttons are too much (visually as well as weightwise) for the sweater. But, that’s just my opinion. That and $5.00 will buy me a latte.

    Comment by Purrl Gurrl — November 18, 2012 @ 12:08 am

  10. I think I like the metal buttons better – I think simpler would be better than the glass ones, though they ARE awfully pretty. Many of the buttons I own were bought for a sweater before it was finished, only to be replaced by the ones the sweater REALLY needed after I finished it. Every once in a while, the “wrong” buttons are right on something else.

    Comment by Pam — November 18, 2012 @ 1:45 am

  11. The buttons choice are always a big problem for me, good luck 🙂

    Comment by samy — November 18, 2012 @ 4:03 am

  12. Simply as a cautionary tale, I had used beautiful glass buttons on a shawl. One time after wearing it, I tossed it on the marble surface of a low dresser in my room, and they shattered! One idea: could you apply a ribbon facing to the button band to make it a bit more sturdy?

    Comment by pkett — November 18, 2012 @ 8:12 am

  13. Like pkett above, I’d suggest a ribbon or some other type of woven-material facing, or even a suede or faux-suede facing. I personally no longer even glance at glass buttons (or other heavy types) while shopping for my handknits, because I know the weighty buttons are just going to stretch out the buttonband and wreck the sweater. A tailored woven-material coat or jacket, on the other hand, with the stable structure imposed by all its facings and interfacings, may be able to take the weight of glass buttons.

    Comment by stashdragon — November 18, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  14. You could put a facing on the button band. It could be knitted or fabric. Use a stabilizer between the facing and the band.

    Comment by Robin F. — November 18, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  15. Mess around with polymer clay and see if you can make knock-offs. I’ve had really good luck with this.

    Comment by Suzan — November 18, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  16. I’d try a grosgrain ribbon on the back, a la the Knitmore Girls. They have a tutorial on the sidebar of their show blog. I say if the buttons make your heart sing, you should find a way to make it work.

    Comment by Karen — November 18, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  17. I prefer the silver celtic ones. The glass ones are maybe to sparkly and busy.

    Comment by Louise T — November 19, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  18. I’d say sew a matching colored ribbon on the inside of the button band, then sew any buttons you like and the button band wont strech. I use this trick a lot, even when sweaters get a bit shaggy of too much worn. It’s an old recipe for cardigans with heavy buttons.

    Comment by Luisa — November 19, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  19. Oooo, lookie what I found! Silicone molds to make buttons out of polymer clay (or whatever):

    Comment by Suzan — November 19, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  20. I kind of like the metal ones better, too, IF you were askng my opinion. LOL! What pattern is this one again? I’m looking for a shawl collar cardigan pattern… 🙂

    Comment by Pat Mofjeld — November 19, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  21. The metal ones seem to me to “go with the Sweater” more so than the glass buttons, which seem to call too much attention to themselves.

    Comment by Ella — November 19, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  22. Just a wish to both of you and your families for a very Happy Thanksgiving, and to thank you both for sharing this blog with the rest of us. Your talent, creativity and generosity is amazing.

    Comment by Barb — November 20, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

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