“Corded Buttonholes”

As the warmer weather approaches, it’s time for me to make some knit cardigans to throw over my shoulders when I go into overly air-conditioned buildings. The knits are warm without being heavy and always go with any outfit. When adding buttonholes to knit fabrics, I always opt for the corded buttonhole. It allows me to have a buttonhole that will not stretch out and will look good through multiple washings. In order to create corded buttonholes, I need two things: 1) pearl cotton (I like to use no. 5) and 2) my manual buttonhole presser foot.  Follow these simple steps and, with practice, you too will be making corded buttonholes for your next project.

  1. Use the manual buttonhole presser foot. You will need to measure your button, mark your fabric for both the start and the stop for the buttonhole and remember to use the reverse button to sew each part of the buttonhole.  
  2. Stabilize fabric appropriate to the weight and type of fabric and cut a piece of pearl cotton about 10” – 14” long. (I used 10” for this 1” buttonhole). After attaching the foot to the machine, insert the pearl cotton over the nib on the back of the foot and along the guide channels on the underside of the foot.  
  3. Sew the buttonhole while lightly holding onto the pearl cotton with your fingers. The pearl cotton on the right side of the foot will begin to pull out of your fingers and that’s okay.   
  4. As you come down the right side of the buttonhole in the stitch sequence, you will have developed a loop of pearl cotton at the top of the buttonhole. When you get to the point where the right side of the buttonhole is even with the left (my blue threads in the examples), stop with the needle down and pull the pearl cotton so it disappears into the buttonhole bar tack at the top of the buttonhole. Cross the pearl cotton strands before stitching the last bar tack and hold while you stitch the final bar tack.  
  5. Cut off the long pearl cotton strands and tuck the stray pearl cotton into the threads of the buttonhole. If you use the same color pearl cotton as you do construction thread, you will not even notice the pearl cotton. The buttonhole will simply look raised.

The last picture shows the three stages of the buttonhole with the pearl cotton loop, with the loop pulled through the construction threads and crossed before the last bar tack and finally with the finished product.