Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Buttoned Down

Who's got the button? Me -- and two of the pillows I recently knit.

I'd been fretting about buttons for these pillows, especially the round Spiral Galaxy Pillow, for some time. I looked for a fancy glass button at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this year, but couldn't find anything I liked. As I thought about it, I decided I wanted it too look like those old shiny, silky pillows my grandmother had in her living room, with a button out of the same fabric. Something to draw it all together, but that wouldn't steal the show. For the just-completed Smocked Rib Stitch Pillow, I needed buttons to rein in the end caps, which were being pushed out by the pillow form and were decidedly nipple-ish. Not a good look.

Knitted buttons made from the same yarn as the pillows themselves would be the way to go. So while running errands this morning, I stopped by Bolt Fabrics and got some Dritch cover button kits and heavy upholstery twine. The salesperson was so helpful to walk me though the process. It was pretty obvious I was in over my head.

Based on our conversation, I realized that my knitted covers would be too thick to snap on the backs. Kindly, Jeff sacrificed an old brown t-shirt so the buttons would have a base that wouldn't let the metal shine through. Then, I knit some small covers using matching yarn and constructed as follows:

  • Cast on 4 stitches
  • Purl a row
  • Increase one inside each edge stitch every right-side row until 12 ston needle
  • Make two rows plain
  • Decrease one inside each edge stitch every right-side row until 4 st on needle
  • Bind off

I ran the tails through the inside edge of every other selvedge stitch around the edge and drew the cover in tightly. And, voila -- a knit-covered button!

I found some instructions on sewing buttons on pillows and away I went. Drawing the thick twine through the long pillow was a bit of a chore, and upholsterers would probably have a special tool for such purposes, but I can report that a seaming needle, squishing hard and grunting can work in a pinch.

Way easier than I thought it would be and I'm happy with the results. Now, I have one more naked pillow form to get covered...


  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Have often thought of making covered buttons for my knitting but was always too scared to try! Looks so easy and even I can "squish hard and grunt"!!!! Thanks again - they look fab! x

  2. These look great! So glad you found this solution.

  3. Not to take the fun out of squishing hard and grunting but I found a 4-pc set of upholstery needles that includes a 12" needle on The tutorial for the covered buttons is simple enough that I can actually do it without feeling intimidated. Now I want to make a bunch of tufted pillows!

    1. Thanks, Robin. I'll look into this. I kind of want to put buttons on everything now, too. And it wasn't really as fun as I made it sound!

    2. Thanks for the link, Robin; and thank you for the pictures and explication, Steven! It really helps to see how this technique is accomplished. :)