How to Knit a Buttonhole

How to Knit a Buttonhole

Wondering how to knit a buttonhole? Knitting buttonholes is a vital skill when learning how to knit garments that require buttons to fasten.

Now, to make buttonholes for your knitted garment, you should consider the explicit instructions on the pattern you intend to use. Most knitting patterns come with a guide about the ideal button sizes and where they should be positioned.

Consider adding a buttonhole to your swatch to determine whether your choice buttons suit the designer pattern. Buttonholes should be smaller than the buttons to avoid slipping back out.

To learn more about how to make a buttonhole in knitting, let’s delve right in!

How to Make a Buttonhole in Knitting

How to make the perfect buttonholes
Image source: Biscotte Yarns

Making a buttonhole is essential when learning how to knit a cardigan as it helps fasten the garment. The following are the various methods on how to make buttonholes in knitting.

    • The one-row method
    • The two-row method
    • The no buttonhole method
    • Afterthought buttonhole

Ensure that you learn how to read knitting patterns to choose a suitable method for your project. Let’s look at each of these methods to make the how-to knit project more straightforward.

    1. How to Make Button Hole Knitting: One Row Method

One row buttonhole
Image source: 10 rows a day

The one-row method is ideal as it helps create a firm edge on your knitted project with minimal stretching since it is made in a single row. The one-row buttonhole knitting method is further suitable for most stitch patterns, including the stockinette stitch.

So how do you knit a buttonhole using one row? Here is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Slip two stitches and cast off

To create knitted buttonholes using the one-row method, you first need to know how to cast off knitting. So you should pick two stitches from the needle with the knitted project (left needle) and slip them onto the opposite needle. Next, loop the initial stitch( the first stitch you slipped on the opposite needle) over the second stitch to cast off.

Step 2: Slip one more stitch and bind off again

To keep casting off, you should slip one more stitch on the right needle. So, slip the next stitch from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle to knit. Next, loop the first stitch over the second one, so you once again have a single stitch on the right-hand needle.

 Step 3: Repeat step 2

One row buttonhole knitting
Image Source: 10 rows a day

You should keep casting off stitches to determine the width of your buttonhole. It is worth noting that the more stitches you bind off, the larger the buttonhole. So you should keep binding off until you get to the length you want your buttonhole to be. Slip the last stitch from the right needle back to the left needle. For a small buttonhole, you should bind off a couple of stitches. If you want to make a larger buttonhole, continue slipping off and binding off stitches.

Step 4: Turn the work around and cast on stitches

For this step, you need to apply how to cast on knitting skills to create the top edge of the buttonhole. 

Once you bind off the desired number of stitches, you should turn the work around so that the opposite side faces you. Next, start casting on stitches in the direction of the buttonhole. For the best results, you should cast on as many stitches as you had cast off.

Step 5: Knit 

How to knit a button hole
Image source: YouTube

Once you cast on the desired number of stitches, you should knit one stitch, as usual, to connect to the opposite side of your buttonhole. This will create a perfect hole without botching up your stitch count. Next, turn your work around, then keep knitting as usual.

Now, if you just need to create one buttonhole on your garment, you should continue knitting to the end of the row. However, if you need an extra buttonhole, you should knit till you get to the location where you need to add the second buttonhole, then repeat steps 1 to 5.

Watch this video to learn how to knit a simple buttonhole using the one-row method.

      2. The Two-Row Method

How to knit a horizontal buttonhole
Image Source: Dummies

The two-row method entails casting off a few stitches on one row then casting them on in the next row. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make buttonhole knitting using the two-row method.

Step 1: Knit two stitches, then pull the first stitch over the second one

You should knit the first row till you get to the position where you want the buttonhole to be. Next, bind off stitches depending on the desired size of the buttonhole. So, you should knit two stitches then pull the first knit stitch over the second one.

Next, knit one more stitch, pull the first over the second one and keep casting off until you get to the desired buttonhole length. This creates one edge of the buttonhole.

Step 2: Continue knitting as before

Knitting button holes
Image source: KnitSimple

Once you have cast-off the desired number of stitches, you should resume knitting until you get to the end of the row or get to the location where you need to make an extra buttonhole.

Step 3: Cast-on stitches

How to knit a buttonhole
Image Source: KnitSimple

You should now work row two till you get to the cast-off stitches of the buttonhole. You now need to learn how to increase a stitch in knitting. You should cast on as many stitches as you had cast off to cover the length of the buttonhole. For instance, if you had bound off four stitches, you should cast on four stitches.

Step 4: Resume Knitting

You should then continue knitting as usual once you have cast on enough stitches. Remember to repeat the process in case of a second buttonhole within the row.

Want a visual guide on how to make buttonholes in knitting using two rows? Here is a video to make creating buttonholes using the two-row method easier.

      3. The No Buttonhole Method

You can forego the hassle of creating a buttonhole within your project by purchasing super bulky, chunky, or yarn with loose tension. This is because these yarn types create stitches that have gaps in between them. These gaps may be wide enough to fit a button through, eliminating the need to create a buttonhole on your knitted project.

So, ensure that you check the yarn’s woven labels to determine whether you could forego making a buttonhole. Labels provide basic information about the yarn, including the yarn weight, the dye lot number, and the yarn weight. Care labels further provide instructions on how to care for your knit project.

Alternatively, you could make a gauge swatch before you begin knitting then test whether the buttons can fit in the gaps on your sample. Consider thin toggle-shaped buttons for the no-buttonhole technique.

      4. Afterthought Buttonhole

The afterthought buttonhole technique helps you add a buttonhole to an already finished garment. This method is perfect when using flexible yarns such as wool. That said, ensure that you practice the afterthought method on a gauge swatch before proceeding with your knitted garment as it involves cutting and unraveling, which may damage your knit project.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to finish buttonholes in knitting using the afterthought method.

Step 1: Gather the necessary equipment

To make a buttonhole using the afterthought method, you need the following knitting supplies.

    • Tapestry needles
    • A pair of scissors
    • Crochet hook
    • Gauge swatch
Knitting Equipment Function

Tapestry needles.

It is used to sew the extra yarn left after casting off.

A pair of scissors.

It is used to cut extra yarn left after completing a knitting project or changing colors. It also comes in handy when making the first snip in the afterthought buttonhole method. 

Crochet hook.

It is used to weave loose ends in knitting.

Gauge swatch.

This is a square sample piece of garment that illustrates the knitting process.

Step 2: Snip one strand.

How to knit a buttonhole guide
Image source: Love crafts

Determine where you want your buttonhole to be located, then make your first snip at the center point using a pair of scissors.

Step 3: Unravel the thread.

You should then unravel the strand till you get to the desired buttonhole length. Next, use tapestry yarn knitting needles to pull out the loose strand so that it ends up in between the stitches.

Step 4: Sew the live stitches.

Making a buttonhole in knitting
Image source: Love crafts

Sew the live stitches to prevent unraveling. For this, you should familiarize yourself with the various sewing room ideas to determine a suitable sewing technique. You need to learn how to change colors in knitting to use a different yarn color that is easy to see when sewing.

Step 5: Cast off

How to knit a simple buttonhole
Image source: Little nutmeg productions

Add yarn into the tapestry needle and then insert it into the first two stitches purl-wise in a clockwise direction. Next, insert yarn through the right-hand stitch from left to right knit-wise. 

You should then keep inserting the tapestry needle through the two stitches, pulling yarn through, then going back through the first stitch knitwise until you cast off the entire hole.

Ensure that you include the first stitch in your sewn bind-off.

Step 6: Weave in the loose ends.

You should learn how to weave in ends knitting to secure the buttonhole edges to prevent unraveling. You could use crochet hooks to weave in the tiny ends of the knitted work through the wrong side of the fabric.

Watch this video to learn how to finish buttonholes in knitting.

Button Knitting Method


One-row method.

The one-row method entails casting off and casting on stitches to create a buttonhole within a single row.

Two-row method.

The two-row method entails casting off a few knit stitches on one row then casting them on in the next row.

No-buttonhole method.

This knitting technique entails using the existing gaps between the knitted garment’s stitches as buttonholes.

Afterthought buttonhole method.

The afterthought buttonhole technique helps you add a buttonhole to an already finished garment.

Frequently asked questions

How many types of buttonholes are there?

Buttonholes created using thread can be crafted in three different shapes: rectangular, oval, or keyhole. These shapes can be achieved through manual handwork. However, it’s worth noting that not all sewing machines or machine attachments may provide options for all three shapes. It is crucial to make a sample buttonhole to ensure the desired length and shape are achieved accurately. Taking this step helps guarantee a successful outcome for your buttonhole design.

What is the best thread for buttonholes?

When creating buttonholes on woven fabrics, it is recommended to use a high-quality thread made of 100 percent cotton. Cotton thread has a slightly fluffy texture that helps fill in the buttonhole stitches, resulting in improved coverage. On the other hand, when sewing buttonholes on knits or woven fabrics containing spandex, it is advisable to opt for the polyester thread.

Can I resize a buttonhole after knitting it?

While it’s generally easier to adjust the size of a buttonhole before knitting it, you can make some modifications afterward. For example, you can use a crochet hook to tighten or enlarge the buttonhole slightly. However, major resizing might require unraveling and reknitting the buttonhole.


Buttonholes provide an excellent way for buttons to secure the pieces of your knitted garment together. They are further a fashionable decoration to your knitted piece giving you a consistent, professional, and attractive appearance.

There are various ways to make a buttonhole, including the one-row method, the no-buttonhole technique, afterthought buttonhole, and the two-row method. That said, ensure that you keep the instructions that come with your chosen pattern in mind to determine the ideal button sizes.

Did you get ideas on how to make a buttonhole for your knitting project?