Let's Steek! Buttonbands and the Real Reason You're Here: Cutting the Steek

OKAY HERE WE ARE! So close to being done.


I need to level with y’all: I loathe button bands. Mine always look messier than I’d like.  I extra loathe them when I’m converting a pullover to a cardigan because I have to figure things like buttonhole placement out and I don’t like it.


Tin Can Knits has a good tutorial on this because this isn’t going to be a good tutorial. Buckle up. We’ll get through it.


Best practice is to start with the left (as worn) side because this is the side without buttonholes, which allows you to be more exact with button placement. Do I do this? No. I start with the right (as worn), which is where the buttonholes are going to go.


A NOTE: Like  a lot of stuff in Western culture, which side the buttonholes go in is needlessly gendered. On “women’s” garments, buttonholes often go on the right. On “men’s” garments” they always go on the left. Clothes don’t have a gender, you do you. I put my buttonholes on the right because I’ve been wearing femme-coded clothes my whole life so doing up buttons this way is a matter of muscle memory.


One little tip- it helps things look less wobbly at the top and the bottom of the button band if you cast on an extra stitch before the first stitch you pick up and and knit and after the last one. This helps keep the button band (more) flush with the hem and neckline of the garment.


Best practice is to calculate how to perfectly and evenly pick up stitches. DO I DO THIS? Absolutely not. I pick up 2 for every 3 rows. Could it be better?  PROBABLY.


I cast on an extra stitch and start picking up and knitting stitches at the bottom corner of the ribbing.


Once you get to where the colorwork begins, you’re going to pick up from the column of knit stitches next to the purl column you worked as part of the steek. It folds nicely here, and you want to pick up and knit by sticking your needle through both legs of the stitch.

Picking Up Buttonband

This is way more pleasant than picking up and knitting from a selvedge edge. When I get to the top corner of the neckband ribbing, cast on an extra stitch using the backwards loop cast on method.


You want an even number of stitches and when you finish this first side, write it down so you’ll have the same number of stitches on the other side. (I had 90).


Turn to work WS.

 WS: (P1, K1) to last two stitches, P2

RS: K1 (K1, P1) to last stitch, K1

 I knit 3 rows of ribbing and decided to work the the 4th row (RS) as the buttonhole row. It was about ½” of ribbing at this point.

I laid out my buttons and eyeball it, then adjusted by measuring and spacing evenly. These are 3 ¼” apart.

You want the buttons to be close-ish to the hem and neck. I only had 6- ¾” buttons, and I wanted another one at the bottom, so I’m going to do a smaller one there. You’ll see this on ready to wear garments sometimes. I don’t ever wear my cardigans closed so these buttons are mainly decorative anyway.


I marked where buttonholes are going to go with removable stitch markers.


Measuring for button placement

For the bottom smaller buttonhole, I’m going to work it as a one-stitch buttonhole by using a yo, k2tog (or p2tog, in my case, to maintain the ribbing pattern).  The rest of the buttonholes are going to be worked as 2 stitch buttonholes using the great Tin Can Knits tutorial.


I worked another 3 rows of ribbing and bound off in pattern.


The left side is worked the same way, but without buttonholes (yay). I worked 1” of ribbing. I didn’t want these button bands to be too chunky since that would add unnecessary width to the garment. (Total is 8-9 rows of ribbing, I lost count).




For some completely unknown reason, this got cut off at the bottom so you can’t see me starting to cut the steek, but keep going and you’ll see some Hot Snipping Action. I promise.

Post Cutting the Steek 

OKAY! YAY! Next up is finishing: whip stitching the steek down, weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, and finished object photos!  I’ll be back with all of that in final post of the series.


I hope this has been helpful and encouraged you to try this on a pullover pattern (hopefully this one because it's been SUPER FUN!)

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