Small Tailored Buttonholes

Instructions for creating small buttonholes for a baby sweater are given below. These are 2 stitches wide, but the knitted fabric is stretchy, and these holes will easily fit a 5/8” button. This is a more complex method than the 2-stitch buttonholes found in many knitting machine manuals, but it really isn’t very  hard to make and looks much neater.

We will make just one buttonhole for a sample. After you complete it, please make a larger sample with at least 3 buttonholes in it, so you get experience working with a real buttonhole band. The sample uses sport weight yarn, or DK weight, that knits to a gauge of 22 sts per 4” at tension (T) 4 on an LK 150 machine.

Important! Even though only 2 stitches are marked with contrast yarn or ravel cord, most of the buttonhole is actually worked on 3 needles. Counting from the left side of each group of 3 stitches, left needle is number 1, middle needle is number 2, and right needle is number 3.


Step 1
T 4. Ewrap cast on 12 stitches. Knit 4 rows.


Step 2
Cut a 6” piece of waste yarn and manually knit the center 2 stitches.


Step 3
Knit 4 rows. Turn tension up to 6, knit 1 row for a turning row, T 4, knit 3 rows. Bring forward the 2 center needles, plus one more on the left, for a total of 3 needles


Step 4
There are 3 main color loops at the top of the waste yarn; hang one on each of the extended needles. Original stitches are behind the needle latches, and the new ones are in the hooks.


Step 5
Push the needles back so that the stitches in the hooks go through the stitches behind the latches. Check that each knitted off cleanly. There should be only one stitch on the buttonhole needles.


Step 6
Remove the stitch from needle 2 onto a single prong transfer tool.


Step 7
Hang it in the hook of needle 3. Bring the needle forward so that the original stitch slides back behind the latch; be sure that the transferred stitch remains in the hook.


Step 8
Push the needle back to knit the transferred stitch through. 


Step 9
Transfer the stitch from needle 3 back into the hook of needle 2; needle 3 should remain empty; that stitch has actually been bound off.


Step 10
Transfer the stitch from needle 1 into the hook of needle 2.


Step 11
Pull through the original stitch. This creates the second bound off stitch.


Step 12
Transfer back to needle 1.  Needles 2 and are now empty.


Step 13
Insert the transfer tool through the leg of the first stitch right of the buttonhole.


Step 14
Hang this loop on the first needle right of the buttonhole.


Step 15
Picking up this extra stitch on the right edge helps eliminate the little hole that sometimes forms beside the buttonhole.


Step 16
Pick up the first main color stitch and hang it on needle 3.


Step 17
Pick up the left main color stitch and hang it on needle 2. All stitches are now back in work.


Step 18
Knit 4 rows


Step 19
Pull out the contrast yarn.


Step 20
Hang a hem from the cast on edge, picking up both bars of each ewrap.


Step 21
Knit 1 row at T 6. This seals the hem, and the looser row provides more ease when joining the band to the sweater.

Remove the completed band on waste yarn. When joining it to the garment, reverse the work; the knit side of the waste yarn should face you, the purl side faces the machine.



This is the right side (public side) of the band.


And this is the inside of the band. It also looks pretty neat on this side.

This concludes the detailed instructions on how to make a buttonhole in a folded stockinet band. I hope you find it helpful.

For a 12-page PDF of this tutorial, please click here. The photos are larger, for more detail.