You may also be one of those knitters who loves buttons, as I do, and invests real time and money in finding beautiful and vintage buttons and buckles to finish your projects. The last thing you want is for them to fall off in the wash!
There are just as many right ways to sew buttons as there are wrong ways. This is my favorite. I begin with a visualization: the wearer of this sweater has just fallen off a cliff. The button catches on a branch, and that one little button is the only thing standing between the wearer and the abyss. Will the button hold?? The outcome is entirely up to you. Now start sewing:
Thread the needle
This may be a completely obvious step, but choose a short, thin, sharp sewing needle. Tapestry needles are much too thick to fit through most button eyes. Pull a length of thread about the length of your arm (I use polyester/cotton blend thread). Thread the needle, and pull the thread length until the two ends meet - so that your thread is doubled.
Set up and positioning
Find the right spot for your button by laying out the garment and lining up the button bands. Then flip to the wrong side of the garment and run the needle through a short length of garment to hide your ends. I like a little extra thread end beyond a knot, but you need to hide it inside some knit stitches so that it's not hanging loose (I don't leave long ends hanging like in the example photo above - that's just to make it easier to see).
Now knot your thread twice. To sew a knot, put the needle through a small amount of garment to make a tiny loop. Stick the needle through the loop and gently pull taut. Voila! A nice secure knot. Once you've made two of these, put your thread through to the front side. On the front side, get your position just right by running the thread through a couple of knit stitches once or twice. Then put the button into place. When you sew the button on, you will take the thread all the way through to the wrong side of the garment, and then bring it back to the front through the button's eye.
If your button has only two eyes, then take the thread back & forth through the garment & button eyes at least 8-10 times, or more if you still have room and it doesn't look too wonky.
If your button has four eyes, then take the thread through 6-8 times for the first half of the cross, then another 6-8 times for the second half of the cross.
Wrapping the button firmly
Once your button is sewn into place, you will wrap it up tightly with the remaining length of thread. Bring the thread from the wrong side to the front of the button band through the button eye one last time. Now take the needle back through the button eye, but not the garment. Your thread should be sticking out from under the button, on the right side of the garment. Wrap the thread firmly around your stitch-work about ten times. Now take the needle through to the wrong side of the garment again. On the wrong side, knot it twice and then run your needle through a few stitches to hide the thread ends.
Trim your thread ends (don't leave long tails like in my example photo), and admire your tidy, life-saving button work. I like to button up the garment after every button just to super-duper double-check the position before moving on to the next one.
Hopefully this little tutorial will make you a more confident knitter of baby garments. Do you have other tips and tricks for button sewing? Please share them in the comments!