Friday, June 21, 2013

Button Tips and Techniques for Knit or Crochet

I love buttons and have been incorporating them into my designs as often as I can. Whether functional or decorative, you want to make sure they're going to stay in place and, if necessary, stand up through washing and ordinary wear. I've put together some tips and techniques for sewing buttons on knit and crochet pieces.

I love chunky and bulky yarns and they provide a fabric with which you can use some bold and beautiful, large buttons.

With some yarns, you can adjust the gauge of crochet stitches, or use longer stitches to accommodate the size of the buttons and just button anywhere in the stitches, without having to create an exact button hole. For example, with Wool Ease Thick & Quick yarn, a size P crochet hook, and a double crochet stitch pattern, a 2" button will fit nicely between the stitches. For an extra large button, a triple stitch might fit better. Test your stitch size with what buttons you want to use, but it's best not to use too small of a button if you use this method. You don't want it slipping off all the time. Also, smaller and 4-ply yarns might split and get caught on the buttons, that's why I tend to do this only with the thicker, bulkier yarns.

 If you can, plan on using the tail of the yarn to sew on the button. If the tail yarn is near where you want the button to be, the holes of the button are large enough for the yarn and needle, and the yarn is appropriate for sewing on a button, just weave it through a few stitches and sew the button. Knot the yarn and weave in the ends.  You'll need a longer yarn tail if you choose to do it that way. Most types of yarn would be appropriate for sewing with, but be careful if you're using single ply wool or loosely spun fibers since you can't pull snugly, they might pull apart.  I do this a lot with some of my button wraps. The corner button uses the yarn tail, but I'll sew with an additional piece of yarn when adding a second button in another location.

I highly recommend having a sewing kit on-hand. Often times, you'll need a particular color of thread to sew on a button on knit or crochet fabrics. Instead of buying a whole spool of thread in a color you may not need again, you could probably find a close enough color in a sewing kit.

If you're using sewing thread to sew on a button, it's best to double the thread and knot it. If you only knot one end of the thread, leaving a loose tail, that knot might slip through the yarn strands and not be a secure start to sewing on the button. It might work for some fabrics, but not when working with yarn.  I like to start by working the needle with knotted double thread around the yarn, pull the needle through the doubled thread and pull tightly. This makes a nice foundation to start sewing on the button
One last tip, in regard to button holes, is to whip stitch on the side of the button hole. As you can see here, a button hole was created by skipping a stitch. That skipped stitch might be loose enough to catch on a button, so I like to whip stitch a few stitches over it to tighten it up and create a more prominent button hole.  If you happen to have a yarn tail to weave in near the button hole, whip stitch around a loose stitch if desired.

For more button tips see this great post at Crochet Me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Foundationless Double Crochet Tutorial

 I'm reposting this written tutorial from a few years ago to let you know that I've added a video tutorial. The video demonstrates the Foundationless double crochet in both worsted weight and bulky weight yarns, as well as a foundationless single and half double crochet technique.
Many of my designs start with the DcChain or Foundationless Double Crochet shown and described below.


Foundationless Double Crochet or DcChain

I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite techniques. Instead of starting every project with a chain strip, using a "foundationless" stitch can speed up the start of your project and allow for more stretch than a starting chain would.

A foundationless DC, or DC Chain, is my favorite way to start a simple, lengthwise scarf. It is also good for garments that you crochet from the bottom edge up, since it creates a stretchier edge as compared to a starting chain. It's easy to change a pattern that calls for a starting chain and then a row of DC. Just work a row of foundationless DC (or DC Chain) instead.
Start with a Ch 3 (this chain 3 counts as your first DC stitch). YO, insert hook into the first Ch, YO and pull through. YO and pull through one loop to create the "base chain" (3 loops remain on hook). Now work a DC as normal - YO and pull through 2 loops, YO and pull through last 2 loops.
See the picture above - the last chain made under the hook is the "base chain" and the double crochet will be on top of it, next to the starting chain 3.
To work the next DC Ch, YO and insert the hook into what was the last "base chain" stitch (it's actually a ch 1 at the base of each stitch). To make this easier to find, I usually hold that stitch as I'm finishing the DC so I know where the chain stitch is when I move on to the next one.
YO and pull through, creating the next "base chain". (Hold this stitch if you want to to mark it.) Then work the DC - YO, pull through 2 loops. YO, pull through last 2 loops. Continue working DC Ch for as long as you want your project to be.
So each stitch consists of a base chain (like a ch 1) and finishes with a double crochet, all in one stitch and the beginning chain 3 counts as your first DC.

I have incorporated this stitch in the foundation of my Circle Shrug Vest Pattern, the Long Fingerless Gloves pattern, for the hood on the Wildwood Capelet Pattern, and the Chunky Crochet Button Wrap pattern.