How to Make a Covered-Button Cardigan

comments (14) March 12th, 2009     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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This button-covered cardigan is perfect to wear on chilly spring nights.
Pretty covered buttons in stripes, solids, and florals.
The before sweater: cute but a little blah.
This button-covered cardigan is perfect to wear on chilly spring nights.

This button-covered cardigan is perfect to wear on chilly spring nights.

Photo: Kayte Terry

I love cashmere sweaters, but I rarely have the money to buy them new. Enter my local Salvation Army: While other thrift stores seem to have figured out that cashmere warrants a price markup, I routinely find pretty, soft sweaters at the SalvA for less than five bucks. On a recent cashmere bender, I picked up a little cardigan in a lovely shade of lavender. It was soft and fit well, but frankly, it was kind of boring. Obviously it was time for a little embellishing!

Here's what you'll need:

  • Cardigan sweater
  • Covered-button kits in a few sizes (I used five kits total)
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Ribbon in a few colors no longer than 9 inches
  • Fabric scissors
  • Needle and thread

This is the before sweater complete with Salvation Army tag. It's pretty cute, but it could be a lot cuter!


Choose a color story that really pops against your sweater. 

1. Decide which fabrics you want to cover the buttons with. I went with a purple/mustard/salmon color story with a little pop of blue.

A selection of some finished covered buttons.

2. Follow the manufacturer's directions to cover the buttons. Button kits come in two different types: Either you pull the fabric over the button top and secure the fabric in its prongs, or you use a plastic piece from the kit that helps you take care of that step. The latter is easier for beginners, but the former doesn't use plastic! Your choice.

Cut a bunch of ribbons in varying lengths.

Plaid fabric helps tone down the sugary sweetness of the cardigan.

3. The covered buttons and ribbons reminded me of one of my favorite things—prize ribbons! So I decided to cut up a scrap of fabric into ribbons, too. I cut about seven pieces of ribbons in lengths from 2 inches to 5 inches and two pieces of fabric, then I grouped them to look like a prize ribbon and hand-sewed them together.

Lay out your design on the sweater, and take a picture so you can reference your design when you're sewing it all together. I tried several designs before I settled on this one.


4. Gather your buttons, ribbons, and fabric, lay out your cardigan flat on your work surface, and determine where you want to sew on your design elements. Arrange the ribbons and buttons on your sweater as desired, and take a picture for reference. You can see what I did in the photo above.

5. Thread a sewing needle with thread, double the thread, and knot. Sew each button on securely and knot. Also sew the ribbons on as desired and knot to secure. Ta-da! You have a beautiful new cardigan just in time for spring!

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Comments (14)

CHL writes: you have given me a great idea for a small moth hole on one of my cashmeres!!!!
Posted: 7:20 pm on February 17th
sophiecai writes: so cute....great it
Posted: 8:55 am on February 17th
MissBeadAlot writes: this is so cute!
Posted: 10:19 am on April 11th
Sweet_Dee writes: Perfect to revamp old sweaters!
Posted: 1:45 am on April 1st
mscraftypants writes: Love it! I am a cardigan nut- so of course I must make one!!! Thanks for the post. The ribbon really adds a nice touch to the covered buttons.
Posted: 1:49 pm on March 18th
Toffy writes: Sassy,Sassy,Sassy Sweater.....Well done my dear. Nice choice of cloth for the covered buttons. This gives me lots of ideas for re-vamping some outta date stuff living in my closet. And Sassing them up beats tossing them out, or parting with them. Thanks a bunch for the idea's...
Posted: 11:03 am on March 15th
gokatgo writes: yay! i love this and have a cardigan that is waitng to be sassed up!
Posted: 12:43 pm on March 14th
Janesdesigns writes: OOOooooowww!! I love the look! Great job.
Posted: 12:43 am on March 14th
kaytet writes: thanks ladies!
ooh half price cashmere sweaters!!! sign me up!
Posted: 10:53 am on March 13th
JennieC writes: SA is my favourite thrift store, too! The cashmere sweaters are usually $4.50 - but sometimes half-price!
Posted: 12:08 am on March 13th
susanbrownknitting writes: Lovely cardigan. Even uncovered buttons work well like this. I have a cardigan that was attacked by moths and just stitched random pearl and shell buttons on it. Not as stylish as this wonderful design, but extended the life of a garment which darning would have ruined.
Posted: 10:26 pm on March 12th
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: This is fantastic and so fun! I love the way you grouped them and added the ribbons. Adorable! :)
Posted: 6:56 pm on March 12th
erika_kern writes: Man that's pretty, Kayte!
Posted: 6:47 pm on March 12th
susanstars writes: so, so cute! I love it.

covered buttons forever!
Posted: 6:00 pm on March 12th
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