Button Up

Never underestimate the power of a button to make or break a sweater. The perfect button can enhance the theme of a sweater, such as a shimmery pearl button on a dressy sweater or a rustic bone button on an outdoorsy sweater. On the other hand, the contrast of a rugged button on a dressy sweater or a shell button on a bulky sweater may make an otherwise ho-hum garment really sing with originality. You can even design an entire sweater around a single spectacular button or sew on several buttons that share a theme but don't necessarily match. Be brave and experiment.

No matter what buttons you use, you need to keep in mind that buttons, buttonholes, and cardigan bands need to work together; otherwise, you may find that your cardigan refuses to stay buttoned.


Plotting button placement

Knit up the front panel of your sweater (if you're planning a knit-in band) or the band that will carry the buttons before you work the piece with the buttonholes. This way, you can use safety pins or ties of contrasting yarn to mark where the buttons should go and plan where to make the corresponding buttonholes.

For a woman's sweater, buttons generally go on the left front panel. For a man's sweater, they go on the right. For both, make sure to use enough buttons to prevent gaps.

Begin by positioning the top and bottom buttons on your band. Use your eyes to determine the best distance from the edge for these two buttons. The top button generally should start K inch to 1 inch from the top of the sweater. (For a delicate or medium-weight sweater, place the top button closer to the neck.) The bottom button on a standard cardigan should be K inch to 1 inch from the bottom edge. If you're working a jacket-type cardigan, you may want to place the bottom button higher up for freedom of movement.

After you place the top and bottom buttons, count the rows (or stitches for a picked-up band) between these buttons to determine where to place the others evenly between them. Don't rely on measuring with a ruler. For greater accuracy, chart your button placement on graph paper.

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