Monday, September 24, 2012

tutorial :: sewing a button very very securely

So you've made a beautiful little baby cardigan and all it needs is five adorable buttons to finish the job.  But buttons are a choking hazard on baby clothes! Oh dear. One good solution is to use a zipper or ties instead, but if buttons are your closure of choice, you need to make sure that you sew them on for dear life (Find more tips for making great baby gifts here).

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! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

back on the knitwagon!

For the last six months, I haven't touched any knitting. Haven't even thought about it (except occasional pangs of guilt). It was like I left it behind in the cold hospital room where I spent so many hours worrying over my yarn by my Dad's bedside.

In June we drove 10+ hours each way to New Jersey and back. I packed some knitting and glanced at it once or twice, but never even picked it up.

I remember that I had a hard time knitting during my last pregnancy, particularly the first trimester. I think this time, the combination of pregnancy and mourning basically obliterated my creative energy.

But now, full-term baby aboard, the urge to work the yarn is back in my fingers. I guess this is nesting?

I started working my way through a tower of UFO's perched on top of my knitting & crafts cabinet. It felt really good to wrap up some of those projects - especially the ones that needed no more than a button sewn on, or to be washed and blocked!

Once the backlog was clear, I wanted a little organic cotton cap for the new baby to wear when she's born. It went quickly and I decided to make another for a friend's new baby.

That done, I found an indecipherable pile of half-begun knitting in a project bag, frogged it and got to work on a beret and mitten set made from some utterly scrumptious Misti Alpaca handpaint sock yarn. It was supposed to be for me, but the beret is turning out rather small and it may wind up being a nice surprise for the Little Pea.

This was all in the last week. I wonder what next week holds??