top of page

Vertical or Horizontal Buttonholes


In this 1x1 Rib button hole band, which hole do you like better?

The one at the top is a one row, horizontal hole. The bottom one, is a vertical button hole.

There are pros and cons to each so let's take a look!

Vertical Buttonholes (bottom):

Pros: The bottom hole is almost invisible. It falls back and allows the ribbing to close around it. It doesn't detract from the pattern and it's VERY easy to do.

Cons: It can gape open. When you pull on the band, the hole stretches open wide. This can cause buttons to come undone and in time, the hole can just naturally scallop open on each side, which looks sloppy. This happens because there is nothing to reinforce the hole on each side.

How to work it:

Option 1

Row 1 (RS): Work in 1x1 Rib to the place where you want the buttonhole, ending with a knit stitch. (Yo) twice, k2tog, continue in 1x1 Rib to end of row.

Row 2 (WS): Work in 1x1 Rib to the yo, knit the first yo loop, drop the second yo, work in 1x1 Rib to end of row.

Row 3 (RS): Work in 1x1 Rib to the hole, purl into the middle of the hole and let the stitch on the needle above the hole drop. Continue in 1x1 Rib to end of row.

Option 2

Row 1 (RS): Work in 1x1 Rib to the place where you want the buttonhole. Join a second ball of yarn and continue working in 1x1 Rib to end.

Row 2 (WS): Working with 2 balls at the same time, work in 1x1 Rib to the hole, drop the yarn, pick up the first yarn and work in 1x1 Rib to end.

With this method you're working one side of the hole with one ball of yarn and the other side of the hole with a separate ball of yarn. Work as many rows as desired. When your hole is the size you want, work across row to buttonhole, cut the second yarn and continue working with main ball of yarn.

Horizontal One-Row Buttonholes (top):

Pros: This hole is worked entirely on one row. It is reinforced at all sides so it stays firm. There are no strands of yarn at the corners that can interfere with the buttoning process. It is a well constructed hole that retains its shape and makes buttoning easy.

Cons: It disrupts the pattern and is very visible.

How to work it:

Before beginning, decide how many stitches need to be bound off in order to reach the desired width of your buttonhole (in this case 4).

All steps are worked on on Row 1 (RS):

Step 1: Work in 1x1 Rib to the place where the buttonhole should begin, ending with a knit stitch. Slip 1 stitch with yarn in front from left to right needle, move yarn to the back of work and leave it there.

Step 2: Slip another stitch from the left to right needle, pass first stitch over second and off needle. One stitch has been bound off. Repeat Step 2 until the desired number of stitches have been bound off. (In this case, bind off 3 more stitches this way).

Step 3: Slip the last bound off stitch back to left needle and turn work. Pick up the hanging yarn and pass it between the needles, to the back of your work.

Step 4: Cast on 1 stitch by inserting the right needle between the first two stitches on the left needle, from back to front, wrap yarn around needle as if to purl, and pull through the loop, then set the loop on the left needle. Repeat Step 4 until you've cast on the same number of stitches that you bound off. In this case, we repeat Step 4 three times.

Step 5: Cast on one more stitch, except before placing it on the needle, move yarn to front, between the needles, then place it on the needle.

Step 6: Turn work. Slip first stitch on left needle to right needle, pass the last cast on stitch over it and off needle. Return the stitch to the left needle and continue in 1x1 Rib to end of row.

There are more steps to this method, but the result is a sturdy, tidy buttonhole.

Try them both and decide which you like better. The vertical buttonhole can be used for more than buttonholes too. Use this technique any time you want to create a slit in fabric, like inserting a scarf, belt, or tie.


Hemmons Hiatt, June. The Principles of Knitting. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988.

​Holladay, Arenda. Blog “Vertical Buttonholes.” 06AUG14.<>

Newton, Deborah. Finishing School, Master Class for Knitters. New York, NY: Sixth & Spring Books, 2011.

Paden, Shirley. Knitwear Design Workshop. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, LLC, 2009.

Vogue Magazine Editors. Vogue Knitting. New York, NY: Sixth & Spring Books, 2002.

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page