The Button Thing

Turns out that if you point out to me that the buttons are on the wrong side of my sweater, you get feminist rant #27 Subgroup D – “Institutionalized and traditional impairment of the ease with which women move on the earth”

Alternate title – “Why your life is harder than his all the time.”

I put my buttonholes (usually – unless it means doing something stupid to a pattern, and sometimes I just follow a pattern) anywhere I want to, but mostly on the left. I am aware that this is the men’s side, and that women’s clothing traditionally has the buttonholes on the right. As far as I know, this is a guideline, not a rule or a law – and I laugh in the face of tradition in this case.

The history of buttonholes (I swear, there is a buttonhole history) has the buttonholes placed on the left for men, because that means that they will be manipulating the button with their right hand, making it easier to get dressed. For women, the buttonholes are on the right, meaning that they would be manipulating the button with their left hand… except that it was assumed that while a man would dress himself, a woman would be dressed by her ladies, maids or servants – and so the buttons were placed so that the maid – not the woman, would have an easier time.

(Never mind, of course, that this meant that the maid was arsed when she dressed herself, because that’s a lead in to a rant about social ranking, and I’m already in deep enough.)

Since I do dress myself, and it seems to me that since that happens in the morning, when I’m already challenged, I’m inclined to indulge in the spirit of the thing, rather than the interpretation of it – so buttons go where it’s easiest for people who don’t have servants do dress themselves, and I put the right handed buttonholes on clothing for babies, since they don’t dress themselves, and as every parent knows, is well appointed with service personnel.

Nothing bad has happened to me as a result of this policy. I have not been taken for a man. I have not been publicly ridiculed, spoken to, or issued any sort of citation or warning. I have not even been chastised by someone who got a little boy’s sweater with the buttons on the girl side. Near as I can tell – the only repercussion at all has been that I feel like the world makes a little more sense some of the time, and I can use as much of that as I can get.

How do you feel about buttonhole placement?

(PS. It’s really ok to have no strong feelings about them.)

(PS again, the sweater has had a minor setback when I joined a new ball of yarn and knit for about 5cm before deciding that the colour leap was too drastic. Frogging has occurred. Sweater looks the same as yesterday. I have a long flight tomorrow. Things should pick up – assuming I don’t make another mistake that I think about for two inches before finally accepting the truth.)

532 thoughts on “The Button Thing

  1. I always wondered about the left/right thing with buttons. I’m gratified to know that it’s because of social stupidness, not something else I was missing, because it never made sense to me, and now I can be OUTRAGED about it. Except I’m too tired for outrage, so i’ll hang on to that for later. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I had no idea that was the reason for buttons being on opposite sides!
    Very enlightening (if somewhat maddening to learn the reason).

  3. I have strong feelings about not have any strong feelings as far as buttonhole placement goes.
    I say anyone can put buttonholes wherever they like – after all it’s their knitting, not mine. Your sweater is looking fabulous! I love the way your handspun is knitting up.

  4. I am totally OK with the buttonholes being on the wrong side because I am left-handed!! But I don’t shun women that put them on the wrong side…I don’t even notice. Despite being slightly OCD I really don’t care which side the button holes are on…which may be a true testament to going beyond the social issues involved with button placement.

  5. By the way, as a left-handed person, I never had a problem with buttonholes on the “women’s clothing” side and never thought about it as an issue of ease… very interesting history!

  6. who gives a rat’s arse about buttonhole placement when there are so many serious world problems to resolve? put the buttonholes where you want and rock on!
    (thanks you for your time, climbs down off her soapbox, and crawls back into her cave)

  7. Do people REALLY point out that your buttons are on the “wrong” side? Good lord, people have way better things to be thinking about. I’m all for putting the buttons wherever they look and function the best.

  8. I knew this history of buttonholes, but could care less about where buttonholes or buttons are placed. Do whatever you like!

  9. Very timely. Here’s my take on buttonholes – it makes no difference to me what side they are on. TO my husband however…
    I sewed him pajamas for Christmas. He likes short pajamas, with short sleeves, not knit, no collar. Not easy to find. Damn near impossible, actually. So I made him some. Found wonderfully soft cotton, and found a pattern in the style he likes, sewed 2 pairs up, put them under the tree. He loves them, but says the buttons are on the wrong side and CAN I FIX IT?
    Suck it up, Buttercup. I’m not changing them, and you’ll be lucky to see another pair out of me.
    He apologized, but did ask if the next pair could have them on the other side.
    Next Pair?

  10. Don’t get me started. My mother-in-law is a stickler for buttonholes-on-the-right-side (unless they should be on the left side, of course) and all my baby son’s cardigans have the buttonholes on the left. Regardless of the fact that the wee love can’t yet dress himself (I live in hope, and he’s certainly working on undressing himself…). Annoyingly, my husband is also a stickler for buttonholes-on-the-right-side, not because he may or may not be ingrained with sexist dogma, but because he’s something of a Smart Chap, and likes things to be Done Properly. (Yes, we are British.) So when my own mother makes cardis for my son, she gets stick for putting the buttons on the girl side. She’s very bemused by this. I give up.

  11. I, like you, put em where I want em. I, too, could rant about such idiocy as buttonhole “rules” (and could you please send me a maidservant? I promise not to mistreat her, just have her button my clothes!).

  12. I am knitting the same sweater, and have ripped back over and over. Especially on the raglan increases.(?!) I am finding the lace part very enjoyable.

  13. I have no feelings whatsoever on button placement. I like zippers.
    The February Lady sweater is such an enjoyable knit, and you are knitting it with such fantastic yarn, that I think a little frogging to prolong the knitting pleasure is a great idea!

  14. Actually, I do put my buttonholes on the right hand side when I’m knitting something for myself, but it has nothing to do with what hand I do what with, and everything to do with what I’m used to doing. I’m just so accustomed to them being on that side that, even though I knew the story of the buttonhole before reading this, if I were to put them on the left hand side, it would totally and utterly confuse me, and, like you, I’m confused enough in the morning as it is.
    By the way, did you happen to find my 2.5 mm dpns hanging out with your 4.5 mm circ?

  15. My question is, do people really have a harder time buttoning things depending on which side the buttons are on? Is it soooo complicated a task that we can only possibly do it one way?
    (I’m somewhat ambidextrous, so feel free to tell me, “Yes! Buttons are nearly impossible to work if they are on the wrong side, snotty somewhat ambidextrous woman.”)
    I don’t care where the buttons are, as long as they do what they are supposed to do. I can never remember which side is “right” anyway.

  16. I prefer my buttonholes on the girl side, not because I have staff to dress me (although I have occasionally had assistance undressing ), but because my mum is left-handed. Even though I’m completely right-handed with nary a whiff of ambidextrosity* in my genetic make-up, I learned to do some things left-handed.
    I also hang up my clothes “backwards”.
    (* not a real word but it I like it)

  17. If I ever knit myself a cardigan? Buttons go on the right. Do not need or want buttons for people who use the wrong hand for everything *evil grin*.

  18. I’m with you and I put my buttons and buttonholes where they are convenient for me. That’s the benefit of making something yourself, you do it YOUR way. This is exactly why I learned to sew, knit, cook etc. I never knew why they were placed awkwardly- interesting tidbit there.

  19. Nope, but I have unprintably strong feelings about people who point out mistakes in the work of others, be it sweater or Latvian mitten.

  20. Very timely indeed. I am preparing to knit a baby cardigan, for a boy-child, and was musing on the history of buttonholes and self-dressing and had just determined that I did not/do not/will not EVER give a crap where the buttons are placed on a garment, so long as the intended recipient can get dressed. So, baby boy-child gets buttonholes on the right–which fits my logic and yours.

  21. I don’t ordinarily care about button placement, but I LOVE your Feminist Rants. They’re so smart and practical and full of spine. Can I be partly you when I grow up?

  22. Being a lefty, I’m perfectly comfortable with my buttonholes on the right.
    For most of my life, however, I didn’t even realize men’s and women’s shirts had buttonholes on the opposite sides. I wore shirts made for both genders (I took the idea of tomboy to the extreme) and had always thought the placement was random.
    It’s interesting to know the history of little things like this.

  23. I’d heard that button thing before. It always makes me shake my head over the strangeness of how we order our clothing. Kind of like the pink/blue thing for babies (I believe started by Queen Victoria because she wanted to be able to tell what the babies in court were by looking at them wrapped up in blankets). I mostly just ignore such social conventions ๐Ÿ˜€

  24. To be honest I never gave it much thought before but I’m strongly inclined to agree with your argument.
    P.S. Did you see The Mercer Report this week where he explained the parliamentary system? It seems he took a page straight from your blog.

  25. Best feminist rant I’ve heard in a while. It’s nice when a feminist rant makes me laugh and not make me sad ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

  26. Buttonholes, shmuttonholes. Love the cardi no matter how or where it’s fastened. (Tho as a seamstress I do tend to put buttonholes on garments as directed by the pattern–sewn garments being not as forgiving as knitted ones.)

  27. I’m not sure anyone really knows why buttons go on the side they do, as opposed to having speculative ideas. Which may of course be right.
    Anyway, my wife sewed a shirt for me once and spaced on the button side issue, so put the buttons on the left side. If anyone (other than me) has ever noticed, they haven’t said anything to me about it.

  28. I totally agree with you. That is why I wear men’s flannel shirts all winter. Button holes on the right just feel wrong & awkward. And the whole thing just seems so weirdly anachronistic.

  29. hang it all, why not put buttons on both sides and frogs to join?
    I still love the colours!

  30. I think it would be wonderful if the world was such that all we needed to worry about was whether someone put her buttonholes on the “wrong” side. I agree with you that you should be able to put buttons and buttonholes anywhere you want.

  31. huh. who knew there was history of this? As for me, I like my buttonholes on the right and buttons on the left, but, jeez, making buttonholes is challenge enough that we should put them wherever we darn well please.

  32. I have no feminist feeling about buttonholes — I’m used to them being on the right and it actually feel a little weird when I wear a men’s jacket, say, and the buttonholes are on the other side. That’s just habit.
    I just finished my first BSJ, though, and wondered all throught the yarnovers why I was doing two sets of buttonholes (this would be an object lesson in reading the pattern all the way through). I assumed the origami would take care of itself and I’d be delighted by the weird twist it would all take.
    Turns out, I’m supposed to be concerned with which side I place the buttons on, vis-a-vis the sex of the baby.
    Which brings me to a question: if buttonholes are on the right for women because they used to have dressers, shouldn’t the buttonholes on ALL baby clothes be on the rights since, presumably, all babies have dressers?

  33. Buttonholes should go where it’s convenient. Plus, it’s a headache to keep looking up where I’m “supposed” to be putting them. Yeesh.

  34. When I took design and pattern making this question came up and the professor (very traditional and detail oriented) said that it didn’t really matter anymore. You can follow tradition or not.

  35. I can never remember which side is which or get it on the right side when I bother to look it up so I have a sort of “Let them fall where they will” attitude about buttonholes. I don’t care which side they’re on, as long as they’re evenly spaced.

  36. i think anyone creative enough to be MAKING A BUTTONHOLE should put it wherever they want it!!! though i would have to say that i don’t think i’ve made one, either in sewing or knitting, that i have been completely happy with… does that say something about me or buttonholes?

  37. I had no idea that buttonholes had a history.
    I have to admit that, strangely, I have never put a button on a knitted garment yet… but if I do, I may think about putting them on the left. On the other hand, I’ve been wearing right-side buttons for so long that such a change might be more than my early-morning-self can handle!

  38. Did not Elizabeth Zimmermann recommend that you make buttonholes on both sides of a child’s cardigan, so you can sew the buttons on whichever side you want? This is my solution for all buttoning-up-garments. I give the recipient the buttons, a needle and some thread. Man, I hate sewing buttons on. I tell them they should look on it as a way to connect with their garment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. It’s funny, I never even notice which side the buttonholes are on when I’m pulling on my clothes, unless someone else points it out. May be because I often buy men’s button-front shirts to wear over jeans, or may be because I’m one of the least observant people I know. I did know about the history of buttonholes, though, does that count? Your rant about sexism and class issues was more than welcome — I’m always up for a good rant about such things. Let me grab a cup of coffee, first, then go on a good long jag.

  40. Buttonholes on the left, buttons on the right all the way. I only wear cardigans (I’m tend towards warm and I like being able to have more adjustments than just sweater on or sweater off, which really seems to me downright archaic, but I digress) and they always have the buttonholes on the left. It just makes sense. (I also admit that it pleases me to know that I’m doing it the ‘wrong’ way!)

  41. P.S. Do you have any idea how long I would have to think about it before I could point out to someone else that their buttons were on the “wrong” side? Either I am slower than average, or some people have too much time on their hands!

  42. Another lefty here. I personally like that women’s buttonholes are on the convenient side for me, since the whole world (except for this!) is built to work against left-handed people.

  43. I’m left handed, so I vastly prefer buttons on the girl side. Frankly, we lefties are an oppressed minority. You all should have to button your shirts bass-ackwards as penance for making our lives inconvenient on a *very* frequent basis. Suck it up, righties. bwahahahahahahahahaha
    ahem. was that out of line? oh, dear..

  44. I like the buttonholes on the left. Not because it’s ‘proper’ or the ‘ladies’ side’, but because it’s what I’ve been doing my whole life and it feels backwards to have them on the other side.
    I realize that the reason they’ve always been like that is because of said buttonhole history, but since that’s the way it’s always been done it’s the one that makes the most sense to me.

  45. I’m just grateful when I remember to actually knit them and don’t just knit straight past them that I couldn’t give a rat’s arse which side they’re meant to be on…

  46. I have no strong feelings on buttonholes, I must confess, but I love anything that points out the socially constructed nature of the world. ๐Ÿ˜€

  47. Here is how I always remember where to put the buttonholes. It’s sexist but I LIKE it.
    Women are always right.
    Men are never right.

  48. This has always confused me, as most of my shirts have the button holes on the right, while most of my jeans (which I wear daily) have it on the left and most of the time I wind up wearing my belt going in the wrong direction. At this point in the day, Im thinking sweat pants could be the way to go!

  49. It really doesn’t matter unless you are creating a garment for a costume. That’s the only time that I’ve encountered those with strong feelings about it.
    I’m an opera singer and thereby “am dressed” frequently enough and have had to assist with some quick changes for colleagues too. But then again, I would be hesitant to submit a handknit to the rigours of a quick-change…. so there we are ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. I say place thy buttons (and corresponding holes) where thee may . . .
    But I’m with the person who wants to know the “rest of the story” on the 4.5 circ needle . . .
    AND there has to be a “holding” story coming, right?!

  51. I’ll admit to spending more than a few minutes worrying about where to place buttonholes on a cardigan for a friend’s yet-to-be-born baby of undetermined gender. Not because it makes a material difference to the wearer (or dresser, as the case may be) — I’m decidedly lacking in “ambidextrosity” (I like Jen’s word!), yet have no difficulty doing up buttons on either side, on my own clothes or those of anyone else — but because I suffer from a rather silly determination to “do things right”. Even when I know it’s ridiculous. It’s a curse, I tell you; my first-ever sock is languishing because I can’t let myself get on with it — for it looks different than the one in the picture. But I digress.
    Never mind the fact that the baby is now a hulking 8-month-old, yet the cardigan is still on the needles!

  52. For once, female lefties win… (trust me, it doesn’t happen often at all!) I’m lefthanded, so my buttonholes are on the right…

  53. I have a buttonhole placement story. I learned to sew starting at 10 yr old, but my mom being something of a perfectionist tended to “help” me quite a bit. When I was 12 I was making a dress to enter in the county fair that had button holes, my first button hole making project. My mom was sick during the critical sewing time and I was on a dead-line to get the dress to the fair. So I did it all by myself. I was quite proud cause I did a bang-up job on this dress. And the fair judge thought so too, except…..I put the button holes on the wrong side and as a result got a “white ribbon” (worse placement possible at our fair). All these years I have thought that was so unfair and just totally LAME. You have freed me! I will fight this injustice and from now on ALL of my buttonholes will be on the “man side”.

  54. I have heard a different version as to why men’s buttons are on the right and the buttonhole on the left. Men had valets to perform the dressing but the idea was that gentlemen carried their swords on the left and cross drew the sword. The buttonhole was on the left so that the motion was smoother. Try it.

  55. I once made a dress with buttons up the front. In spite of my careful attempts to follow the pattern instructions exactly, I ended up with the buttonholes on the “wrong” side. My friend said “So. . . it’s a boy’s dress?”

  56. The traditional women’s setup doesn’t bother me because I like to do things ambidextrously. When I first learned how to put on mascara I decided to do it with the corresponding hand on both sides, partly because I’m near-sighted and have to stick my face six inches away from the glass so it’s hard to reach my arm over in that small space, but mostly because I figured if I was learning a new skill anyhow, my left might as well learn it too.

  57. I absolutely NEVER remember where the buttons are supposed to go. After having worn women’s clothing all my life, though, putting on a shirt with the buttons on the other side feels odd. (I usually don’t realize I’ve done this until the sweater is totally knit and finished.) Do other people really worry about such things?

  58. One of the “side effects” of my dyslexia is that I have a very hard time distinguishing right from left. Recently a co-worker asked me if it didn’t bother me that the shirts provided by the company were all men’s. I’ve been wearing them for 2 years and hadn’t noticed. I guess that puts me in the “don’t care which side” catagory.

  59. Thank you so much for that information. From now on, I’ll be joining you in the revolutionary buttonhole placement movement!

  60. As a left-hander, it’s been one of those few areas where my life was easier… even though the historical reason for it is mad – I’ve always worn a lot of blue, too, and avoid pink like the plague! ๐Ÿ™‚

  61. According to costume history lore, men button left over right so that their swords don’t get caught on their coat flap when they draw it.
    The way I remember is: Women are always right, men are left-over. Most women can cope with either way since fly zippers tend to be left over for all.

  62. You really do need to be in charge…there is obviously a need for a “Ruler of the Known Universe”. A benign ruler who straightens out life’s annoying little rules, like buttonholes and needle sizes should be metric and a standard for yarn names (like worsted, etc.). Once these are established, then you can move on to the entire world measures in metric, what language air traffic controllers should speak, health care, trade policies, the economy and global warming. I figure everything will be straightened out properly by the end of the year!

  63. Very enlightening, and now I plan to follow your extremely sound logic and put my buttons on the left for me, and on the right for babies! And try to keep track of anyone I knit for who is left-handed….

  64. I put my buttonholes on whichever side I bloody well please. In addition to the dressing one’s self vs. being dressed by another, there’s a clear bias to right-handedness. My husband, who is left-handed might have an easier time with women’s shirts (were it not for his great size) where I, being right-handed, might have an easier time with boys’ shirts. Men, it should be noted, are more often left-handed than women.
    Therefore, in order to best combat both gender bias and handedness bias, one might be best served by taking into account the individual wearer (or wearer’s parents in the case of babies) or else ignore the issue altogether and don’t think too hard about where buttons are supposed to go.

  65. I had a color changing problem, too. I have to alternate from 2 skeins of yarn to keep it consistent. (I, sadly, am not using handspun…)
    I hate buttons. I avoid them all together and use those magnetic snaps!

  66. I have the same response to button hole placement as I have about the toilet paper feed-from-the-top-or-feed-from-the-bottom issue: Seriously?
    I confess, I do love a good button/button hole combination as much as I love finding toilet papter on the roll when I need it.

  67. I second the comments already made by other lefties; having buttonholes on the right side seems perfectly natural to me. I’m fairly ambidextrous–it comes from being a left-handed person in a right-handed world–but I’m just so used to buttonholes being where they are that when I steal a shirt from a guy friend, it does seem a little backwards.
    That’s just my two cents…

  68. I knew the buttonhole thing because of my costume history and design classes in college. I always thought it was silly – and being a left hander, just fine.

  69. I always heard that the buttonholes were placed so that a man, while driving a woman in his car (SHE wouldn’t be driving, of course) could see through the gaps into the woman’s blouse and she, from the passenger side, could steal a glance at his strong chest through the gaps in HIS buttonholes. So romantic!

  70. I think this is one of those distinctions that will eventually be non-existent (“boys” side vs. “girls” side, I mean). I have many store bought women’s shirts with the button holes on the “wrong” side. I think it is one of those “standards” that even the clothing industry is changing.

  71. I just wish that more knitted garments were designed with buttons and buttonholes. I mean, how is my stomach going to stay warm when I only button down to my ribcage,or if there’s just one button at the very top?

  72. I remember a pattern for a baby sweater that had you put buttonholes on both sides. That way once you knew the gender, you could sew closed the buttonholes on the appropriate side and sew buttons over them. And, it went on to add, this process could be reversed of the sweater was passed onto a sibling of the opposite gender, thus assuring the sweater was useful in both cases. I couldn’t imagine having the time and energy with small children to even care, let alone change button sides!! Allanna

  73. The whole button/side thing is overrated. It wasn’t until “mass” manufacturing of clothing that such a thing even became an issue. In the middle ages people put them wherever they darn well chose to put them. I put them on whichever side I feel like at the moment!

  74. Thanks for the history lesson! I find it doesn’t matter to me, as I just tried to manipulate buttons with either hand and had success with both. ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. I never can remember which side is which, so I usually put them wherever I feel like it. Doesn’t help that I wear men’s tuxedo shirts for one of my jobs, thus enhancing the confusion.
    Pullovers are so much easier!

  76. Well, since most of my buttons are on the right what I would like to know where my &*@$?# lady’s maid is hiding? Seriously, I can barely dress myself.

  77. I am fine with wherever you would like to put your buttonholes. I have to put them where the pattern tells me. I also apparently need a reminder to knit the sleeves right side out on the February Lady Sweater!!!

  78. Now that I know the reason why, I might just put the buttonholes on the “manly” side just out of contrariness.
    My real problem is that I hate to sew on buttons. I’ve been tempted to toss perfectly good clothing just for lack of buttons.

  79. Squarely with you on this one – which may go some way toward explaining why I’ve spent so much of my life wearing men’s shirts (usually stolen from whatever man happens to be handy – some of them have REALLY nice shirts). Both on socio-historic principle and for practical reasons. And don’t even get me STARTED about historic inequity in the matter of pockets!!!! (Can’t resist mentioning, though, that Lewis Carroll lobbied for pocket equality, not for women but for dogs, which makes a peculiar kind of sense if you think about it.)

  80. I noticed years ago that men’s dress shirts were easier to button than ladies’ and due to that fact I actually have a liking for men’s shirts, that and the fact that I have broad shoulders for a woman. (I still look like a girl, not a silverback, I just don’t have the rounded shoulders a lot of women have) So I also prefer the buttonholes on the left. I’m with you, I put them on the side that’s easiest for me to dress myself.

  81. Thanks for the history lesson. Personally, I think people can put your buttons anywhere you want them, I’m happy with that. lol

  82. To be honest, I don’t care where the buttons go. I am a right handed person with left hand dominance so ultimately, placement is never an issue.
    My bigger issue is finding buttons in the first place! I knit, I crochet, I spin and I don’t want to have to learn to make buttons too because that’s a whole other hobby which I probably can’t afford.
    I need a personal button seller – a go-to person – who will make my buttons to spec. and sell them to me for the same price as the buttons in the barrel at M&J Trimmings (NY). Then I’ll be set.

  83. The only time I have ever heard of someone having a hard time buttoning a button was not because of the side it was on, but because of the size and placement — my mother as a small child used to button her older brother’s button-up shoes back in the 1920s because he found it awkward and difficult. Plus I believe you had to use some esoteric tool.
    I’ve heard that sexist placement explanation before, so I no longer get outraged about it. I just figure it’s gone the way of the dinosaur, like men walking closer to the curb (to protect a lady’s skirts from getting splashed by the horses). You put ’em where you want ’em, is what I say!

  84. I place buttonholes traditionally for traditional people, “men’s side” for all other adults. (This is a short list, since I don’t habitually knit cardigans for adults.) I went around and around and around with the question of buttonholes for babies, and briefly rested on the “women’s side” for the reason you outlined — easier for the caregiver, regardless of the baby’s gender.
    Once I was alerted to the tradition of button placement (which answered lingering questions about why my cheap jeans were easy to button and my dressy trousers seemed awkward), I realized it was an easy and sneaky way of determining the gender of a very young child whose name and gender I might have forgotten or never known in the first place. (This happens in the extended family and social circles sometimes.)
    So I now place buttonholes on baby clothes appropriately for the gender, if only to assist people who are clever but forgetful. Or, more accurately, I put buttonholes on both sides and place buttons on the traditional side once I know the gender of the tiny recipient.

  85. No strong feelings here though I didn’t know the reasoning behind the right vs left. Thanks for the history lesson.
    Safe travels.

  86. I don’t have strong feelings about the left or right placement of buttons. When I’ve made shirts for DH, I have placed the buttons on the man’s side because they were his shirts.
    I do, however, wish that clothing manufacturers could place a button/buttonhole at the vertical center of a woman’s bustline. I realize there is some variance from woman to woman, but as far as I can tell they don’t even try. I almost won’t buy a button shirt because most of them pull and gape open and would have to be pinned because I don’t want the world to peak at my bra and the girls.
    Also, as far as buttons go, I wish there were more places to find pretty, good quality buttons for my knitting and sewing. Shopping online for buttons is not as satisfying as actually placing the button on the fabric to see how it will look.

  87. Certainly you should put them wherever is convenient for you. I personally put them on the right because I’m left handed!

  88. Another leftie here, so although I completely get your rant, I am perfectly happy with things the way they are! I do wonder if, even if I were a rightie, I might be feel fumbling and awkward with buttonholes on the other side. I’m somewhat ambidextrous but find that the more I use one hand for a certain task, the harder it is to switch things up.
    I never actually notice buttonholes, though–in fact, until I read this post, I knew that men’s and women’s clothing was different, but wouldn’t have been able to tell you which gender had been assigned buttonholes on which side.

  89. Lucky you, A guy thats on the school newpaper asked why my buttonholes were on the “man” side.
    My response “I have more balls than any man so really men have theirs on the womens side.” That shut him up and got me a good talking to. And when I told my mom I got cake.

  90. I haven’t thought to much about button holes. Well that’s not true, but the only thing I can think of is how to make them fit the buttons I want to use …

  91. I prefer to believe that the buttonholes are on the right so that the woman’s garment can be more easily removed by the man…

  92. I am sorry I was one of those that pointed out the button hole thingy. For money I sew children’s clothing, I make hundreds of jumpers a year all with buttons. So it’s not really OCD as much as an occupational hazzard.
    sometimes for fun..designer and I will rock the boat at put the buttons at ‘unequal’ distances or put different coloured buttons in each hole…but they are always on the right/wrong side.
    The sweater is lovely by the way…its on my list too!
    I have to admit…I would always be sure that they were…im sorry just me…please don’t hate me.

  93. From the murky depths of my memory of costume history class once upon a time all buttonholes were on the right. Then men started fighting with swords – usually right handed. The sword hung on the left side and was drawn across the body by the right hand. Buttonholes were moved to the left so that the hilt of the sword would not catch on the flap-over of the closure.
    That’s honestly the only way I remember which is which – by pretending to draw a sword from a scabbard. ๐Ÿ™‚

  94. Sure makes sense to me. And heck, if you’re going to spend the hours and hours to make something that has buttons and is wearable, put ’em where you please. If someone gets upset, THEY can take the needles and do it themselves.
    (no really…try it…the looks of horror are funny)

  95. For baby clothes, I sometimes knit buttonholes on both sides and then sew each “good” button to a plain button that is too large for the button hole. This does three things: 1) it accounts for the fact that not all parents are right-handed, 2) it lets me put non-washable buttons on washable sweaters, and 3) it lets those parents who actually care about the left/right issue put the buttons on the “correct” way.

  96. There was a time–a long time ago–when I sewed all my own clothes, as well as those of my four children, three boys and a girl (in that order). I even made all our winter coats; my daughter was on her fourth coat before I finally got the buttons on the “right” (correct?) side.

  97. I’m just surprised that someone would have the nerve to tell you that the sweater You were making for Yourself was done incorrectly. Seriously? Refer said person to the Manners 101 manual, please, and encourage them to read the section titled, “When to Keep Your Big Mouth Shut.”
    As for my preference of buttonholes: Yes, thank you, I’d like some when buttons are also present.

  98. Dry cleaners charge more for women’s items than they do for men’s. I wonder if they sometimes use the buttons to tell them which is which.

  99. Very interesting – I knew that men’s and women’s buttons were on opposite sides, but I never knew why. I’ve never put a lot of thought into the placement of my buttonholes before, but I’m about to knit the button band for a new sweater and now I’ll have consider where I really want those buttons to be.

  100. While it’s not much of an issue for me, I prefer my buttons on the left. I like to/ have gotten used to manipulating the buttonhole and not the button.

  101. I could care less about buttonholes. In fact, I just had to turn around and examine my coat to figure out where the buttonholes were. I’ve had items of clothing with buttons on either side. I don’t think I’ve ever given buttoning them much more than a quarter of a second’s thought.
    I’m left-handed, does this play into it at all I wonder?

  102. I have always had a hard time with buttons and after reading the explanation as to why they are where they are, I now know why. I was doing it wrong. I never manipulate the button. I just hold it still with my left hand and manipulate the hole around it. And unless I’m putting it on myself and it feels awkward, I never notice which side the buttons are on.

  103. right side? left side? the only things I do with my right hand are write/use a knife and unlock locks with a key. I do almost everything else equally well with my left and prefer it– especially things that require that pincer motor skill, like buttons and sign language. add to that equation that my “formative dress-yourself-years” were spent largely in boys longsleeve white button-down oxford shirts (with a long navy blue skirt) .. i tend to put buttonholes where they happen, and just aim to be consistent in the garment though I believe EZ just have you sew up the “wrong ones”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  104. I have severe issues with my left and right, so I frequently mix them up and end up with progressive button placement whether I mean to be revolutionary or not. With my own Feb Lady Sweater, I really couldn’t tell which side they were supposed to be on, if I had them on the right (or rather correct) side or anything of that sort. I polled all of my garments to see which side they should go on. Results were inconclusive and I honestly cannot remember now where those buttonholes ended up. I did seriously consider not making them at all.

  105. I can never remember which sides the buttons and holes go on so I guess unless I’m wearing something with buttons. I just had a look and my women’s jeans have the hole on the left and button on the right! I heard a lot of griping about the buttonholes when I was making my FLS (there’s an FLS knit-along on Ravelry) but I couldn’t care less which side they go on. Your explanation and guidelines make more sense than anything else I’ve heard on the topic.

  106. I’ve been experimenting with magnets. They’re pretty much no-brainers, and they don’t mess up the yarn like velcro does.

  107. Buttonholes schmuttonholes! I have been thinking for a long time about using two skeins at a time of handpainted yarn to knit a sweater I am designing. When you plan to use four skeins in all, do you have to work with all four at once? I’m afraid I am going to find out in the knitting of it. I hope the answer is the easy one.

  108. I can never remember which side buttonholes are suppose to be on. I do feel strongly about Shank buttons, I love putting them on as I go, so I don’t have to sew them on later.

  109. Buttons are for suckers. Use staples! Staples or, for the gutless, double sided fabric tape.

  110. What about the men who have valets who dress them?????? The poor valets – buttoning on the left side! (Can you tell I read too many Regency era romance novels?)
    In all seriousness, I don’t have any feelings about this whatsoever other than to say while I was aware of the difference between men and women’s clothing, I seem to have clothes with both and am now an ambibuttoner.

  111. I was wondering how you would handle that comment. It was no surprise to me that you would do it very enlighteningly. Great job.

  112. My main complain about the button placement is that they mess with my ironing technique. I have my shirt ironing technique nailed to a t, but the sill girl-side buttons make it just a little harder than the boy-side buttons. So ironing my boyfriend’s shirts is always easier than mine.
    Otherwise, I don’t particularly care where they go, but I suspect I am used to do them girl-size, and I would get confused if I changed. I am easily confused like that.

  113. I put my buttons where they make sense…on the ‘right’ side for adults, and on the ‘left’ for babies.
    I buy all my pants at VanHeusen – they put their buttons on the ‘men’s’ side, even for their women’s pants, and I adore them for it.

  114. My feelings? Buttonholes should be placed in some relation to where you want to be able to button your sweater. As to which side, well, you’re a grown up and it’s your sweater. Have fun!

  115. As a lefty, I love the fact that for once, things are arranged so it’s easier for me…

  116. So, are you perhaps recommending knitters be in charge of their own knitting, and especially when knitting for their own self, they should knit it as they WANT it? Hmmm, novel concept, changing something to suit the user of a product. Knitters should not be blind followers of patterns. Now, have I read something similar to that from another famous knitter…let me think. Oh, and do you knit on through crisis? Always good advice. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a good flight.

  117. Rams, I certainly agree with you. There was a thread on Ravelry about whether or not you should point out someone’s mistake(s) in a piece of knitting that they loved. I was surprised how many people could not keep their mouths shut.
    OK, now back onto Steph’s topic….too big a color leap is hard for me to decide on… because I’m not getting the whole picture. It may seem too sudden but what about after it’s all done… anyway, that’s my thought process. Yes, it’s a noisy neighborhood up there.

  118. I’d never really considered if I had a preference before. When I put button holes on the front of something for me I usually try it on and see where my hands go (button holes on the back are just whatever I think of at the time since I figure it doesn’t really matter – I might have to try out different set ups and see what’s easier). I usually end up copying something I’ve already got which means buttons on the left and holes on the right.
    I find this is what my hands work with best. I’m right handed and certainly do most of the button manipulation with my right hand but on the occasions I’ve thrown on my husband’s coat to go outside with the dog I find the buttons extremely awkward. I also find it much easier to undo the buttons on my own coat with one hand (my right) which leaves my left hand free to hang onto my purse, hat, scarf, etc.
    As an aside – I always cross over kimono style garments (be it a wrap sweater or my dressing gown) right over left (which would be backwards in Japan for a living person) which is the same as the set up for “girls’ side” buttons.
    I agree with whoever said there should always be a button in the middle of the bust line on a blouse – I hate that gape.

  119. Thank you. The next time I hear someone complain about where the button/holes are…I shall put in a zipper….upside down…let’s see how they handle that!

  120. Your logic is impeccable. I agree with you 100%. I tend to wear mens shirts, and when I put on a women’s shirt that has buttons on it, I am completely out of sorts with the buttoning. Same thing for my kids. They’re girls so they tend to wear girls’ clothing, but if I put a boy’s top on them with buttons, again, it’s all wrong.
    So yay for you!

  121. hi! I just had a thought (while responding to one of your other commenters). Why not look at non-traditional button placement as a way to get into doing an activity with one’s non-typical hand? That is supposed to be a good way to give one’s brain a little workout and help keep it operating at its best. Having said that, putting the buttons where ever one pleases just adds to the mysteries of the universe.
    I wear lots of men’s clothes (being they are more my size). I hardly ever draw a sword, and I never give the buttons a thought.
    One more piece of button trivia: there used to be a children’s show here on public television called “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. At the beginning of each episode Fred Rogers would come in the door and change from his jacket into a zipper cardigan (most of them knit by his mother, I was told). He used to don a button front cardigan until the day he buttoned it crooked. It made for a good “teachable moment” about making mistakes, but soon after that he switched to zippers. I was always afraid he would pinch a finger or the zipper would jam, but that never happened while I was watching.

  122. I agree. I’ll put the buttons where ever I want them, but if I’m expected to wear them, they go where I can fasten them…..

  123. I think someone mentioned it…I’m seconding the sword-button-hole theory ™ ;), having had a short but um, sharp, fencing career and a super cool nun who showed me how to sew.
    Button holes and buttons were “handed” dependent (for men at any rate).
    Right handed fencers “pull out” (we didn’t have scabbards but the motion stayed) and saluted from left hip up to your face. Left handers do it the opposite way. They still place buttons on fencing jackets to be least in the way, doesn’t matter if you are a girl, boy, or somewhere in between (did I mention I fenced in Santa Cruz, CA?)
    The dressing bit? Sr. Charles said men had dressers/helpers/whatever you’d call them. When stuff started to get mass produced was when the manufacturers decided (arbitrarily I was told) where buttons and button holes should go.

  124. I’m with you – this is a stupid “rule” that should have been done away with a long time ago…alas, the men in the fashion industry do not agree. :-\

  125. I personally don’t care one way or the other which side my buttons and buttonholes are on. However the 4-H judges at the fair had plenty to say!

  126. I have only one general feeling about where buttons should go, and it has nothing to do with gender or tradition, it has to do only with asymmetrical cardis. Cardis with asymmetrical openings just look a little strange to me if the button holes are on the short side, meaning the short edge layers over the long edge. Don’t know why, and it doesn’t matter if the opening falls to the right or left, but it just seems like the long should go over the short.
    That being said, I’d never tell a someone else they’d done it wrong, because they did it how they wanted. Personal rule: wrong is only in the eye of the knitter!

  127. Well, for the original maids it probably wasn’t too hard to button their own clothing because, like you, they probably put their buttons on the right side to make it easy for themselves.
    BUT when clothing started to be mass produced the factories put all the buttons on the left side so that women who were too poor to own servants could still appear to because their buttons were on the side that indicated someone else dressed them.
    I, personally, do have strong feelings about buttons, for pretty much all the same reasons you do. But I put them on the left side anyway, why? Because I’m left handed (which is an entirely different rant, also subtitled why my life is harder all the time)

  128. I alternate. Counting from the top, odd-numbered buttonholes are on the right, even-numbered ones on the left.

  129. I had the same thing happen to my FLS, which I’m working on the sleeves of right now. I’m using kettle dyed Manos and one of the skeins didn’t take the dye in the same way as the others and it created a rather dramatic colour change (and it also took me 2 inches to notice). I put it aside for a few months and then showed it to my knitting group and eventually decided that it was mottled enough that I might actually grow to like it, which I have. I’m just now terrified, though, because I have to start a new ball soon and I know I won’t be nearly as tolerant if that happens halfway down the first sleeve!

  130. I have to admit to feeling dumb. As I began reading I read the buttons on the wrong side as meaning the inside of the sweater, which of course made me wonder why a feminist rant would ensue. Further reading cleared it up, but still a good giggle at my own expense ๐Ÿ™‚

  131. Never having tried to button anything from the left side, I have to say that as I try to imagine it, it seems like it would be much harder for a right handed person to button things into left-sided button holes. But that’s likely just because I’ve become quite adept at buttoning things into right-sided button holes.
    At least, I like to think that I can be considered an adept at buttoning clothing.

  132. I have to say that I am so used to button holes being on the right that if I get a shirt with the buttonholes on the left I am a complete idiot at trying to get it on. My right hand just does not know how to handle a button properly. Kudos to you for doing it how you like, but I think I shall stick to keeping my holes on the right.

  133. Maybe the button thing has to do with ease for nursing-unopening with one hand while holding baby in the other?

  134. I too am a person who dresses myself and must also admit to being often challenged while doing so in the morning. Some of my stragedy (intentionally misspelled) is to leave shirts buttoned up as much as possilbe often having only one button on the neck unbuttoned so that the garment can be passed over my head. It did give my mother fits the one time she visited me. She went thru my closet and unbuttoned all my shirts.

  135. I avoid the issue by never unbuttoning and pulling all blouses, sweaters, etc. over my head.

  136. Wow, being left-handed, I have never cared or thought much about which side the buttonholes are on. I do care, however, with how they are spaced. Badly spaced buttons make for some interesting puckering and unintentional peek-a-boo gappage…

  137. Another “urban myth” reason for the buttonhole placement that was when a women rode sidesaddle the wind wouldn’t go into the garment. The opening was to the back of the horse. Supposedly that’s also the reason we tend to wrap things like scarves and shawls with the right side over the left.
    Who knows how it started and probably all ends up which ever way feels right for the garment.

  138. You go girl! Well said. The button hole goes where it goes. Right or left, it can’t be that difficult to manipulate! And if it is, for wool’s sake, don’t put buttons on it in the first place!!

  139. Isn’t FLS fun? (question asked with tongue in cheek). Referent note: my detailed comments on my Ravelry page. Trudge on, Stephanie. It will finish up just fine.

  140. I have a busted up right hand, and so for me buttons are easier worked with the button in the left hand. So that’s how I put them on. But in principle I’m following your ‘do what works’ philosophy. I say go for it. It’s YOUR jumper.

  141. I almost always put my button holes so that I make them at the start of a row, because if I have to remember to make them at the end, I never do. Important to note- almost all of the sweaters I have made have been EZ ones with no button bands.

  142. I’ll do up a button no matter which side it is on and it doesn’t bother me. I’m a) nimble b) a mother c) too logical to mind as long as my clothes stays on.

  143. Thank you for this timely erโ€ฆ rant. Iโ€™m making my first adult size sweater and the instructions for the placket read something on the order of โ€˜place placket on left or right depending on whether for man or woman’. Iโ€™ve been scratching my head going โ€˜Which left? Mine or the flipping sweaterโ€™s?โ€™
    Now I donโ€™t have to paw through DHโ€™s closet to figure it out. Because he *will* care, even if I donโ€™t.

  144. I’m all for common sense. Put the holes where ever you want – after all, you’re the Yarn Harlot, and you rule the yarn (which by inference, includes buttonholes).

  145. Either all that button history is correct, or whoever designed the first left-buttoning garment was actually a working class left-handed woman who got fed up and finally decided that in this ONE instance, lefties should have all the power. ๐Ÿ™‚

  146. Synchronicity or what? I was very pleased to read this as I’m currently knitting a sweater for a small person. Since I look at the front of the garment, I’ve accidentally transposed left and right [not the first time this has happened – or likely the last]. Thus ‘female’ buttonholes on a young gentleman. But what you say makes much more sense… not that his mom would likely object. Her brother once entered a county contest for Dairy Princess and won, as he was interested in promoting the dairy industry and felt the post would help him do so. Good for him!!

  147. I’m a left-handed person and find the lefty button holes to be easier than the right handed ones. I hadn’t paid much attention until I started knitting, but there you have it!

  148. Honestly, I never noticed which side buttons were on until someone pointed out the gendered button issue to me a few years back. I’ve always been as likely to wear clothes made for men as well as clothes made for women, so I’m equally proficient. I routinely wear my husband’s shirts, but the one time he went to borrow one of mine he was very surprised that the buttons were on the “wrong” side, and had trouble buttoning them. I laughed.

  149. Makes no difference to me. If buttons match up to the button holes, I consider it a successful endeavor!

  150. When I worked at a theme park and we had radios with the piece that you can clip onto your clothing, I liked having women’s shirts because the opening went to the side easiest to clip the danged radio piece to!
    Mostly though, I tend to wear anything with buttons open and over another layer so I don’t have to try to fiddle with buttons in the morning before I’m awake!

  151. Now I know why it has always been so hard to do up my buttons…I will be putting buttonholes on the left of any button-up article I make. Either that or I get a maid/servant.

  152. I am directionally challenged and am unable to tell my right hand from my left hand unless I do the l thing with my fingers…….so I just put the button holes on which ever side the pattern calls for……

  153. I too just finished a BSJ (my second) and while I was initially irritated by the matching sets of buttonholes on both sides, then I decided the set of holes on the button side (whichever, I don’t care) is really just to mark where I should sew the buttons on so I don’t have to worry about lining anything up or spacing them evenly. The process of sewing on the buttons closes up the holes under the buttons just fine!

  154. Another vote here for “19th century manufacturers arbitrarily decided it” and historically people did whatever they pleased.
    I remember the standard rule by “women are right on top.”

  155. Button holes aren’t something I care about until I’m dressing myself and they’re on the ‘wrong’ side. I go to button and all of a sudden my fingers don’t know what to do. Oddly, a zipper facing the ‘wrong’ way confuses me even more.
    The way I see it, it’s a QWERTY thing. It’s supposed to be faster to type when the keyboard is laid out with the alphabet, but no one knows how to use it. Ultimately, QWERTY is faster because of habit.

  156. If only all of life’s mistakes could be discovered and repaired within two inches of their inception.
    (Also, I have a comment to make about the difficulty of undoing a button fly on men’s pants vs. your own pants when there is a man you want out of the pants. But perhaps that’s enough of a comment for now. *ahem*)

  157. I am left handed. I prefer buttonholes on the right side. Would be easier for me, for sure! Not that I can’t do up buttons the other way, it just seems so woefully inefficient.

  158. There you go making me think about how I button a button. I discover it matters not where the buttons are placed, as I rarely use them. Karen, I agree with you. Zippers that open to the left (as you wear them) get me all flummoxed.

  159. I’m left-handed, so the traditional arrangement of buttons suits me just fine. I’m pleased that SOMETHING in the world is easier for lefties – seeing as the pen at the bank and the ticket slots on the subway are always on the right, we can’t write comfortably in spiral notebooks, we drag our pinkies through wet ink when we write, we can’t shake hands with the hand that feels natural, its hard to find a baseball mitt or golf clubs, and the mouse at the library computer is always always always on the right (that is to say, the wrong) side. Not to mention when people watch me knit, they think I’m an amatuer because my southpaw knitting looks “awkward.” Sheesh. At least we got the buttons.

  160. I don’t care for buttonholes, as that implies the need for buttons….something that always requires a long and often fruitless search for just the right buttons. I don’t like shoelaces, either, for I hate to tie and untie shoes. I want all my clothes to be slip ons. Frankly, if you were just starting I would tell you to knit it in the round, and make it a pullover. So there.
    Have a nice flight. ๐Ÿ™‚

  161. I vote buttonholes for women on the traditional right. 1) Since birth I’ve buttoned on that side, and when I sometimes wear something made for a man, I find it wonky to handle the buttons the other way. 2) I ALWAYS notice when I see buttons on the wrong side of a woman’s sweater, and I always wonder: Did she make a mistake? Was she not paying attention?
    Why make me go there?! :o)

  162. I use both hands to do up buttons, so it doesn’t matter to me. I wasn’t aware that most people were talented enough to do it with one…

  163. Not that I’m a cross-dresser or anything, but I’ve worn my fair share of brothers’, husbands'(yes, plural possessive,) and boyfriends’ sweaters and jackets over the years. I have to say I find neither innately easier to manage (I’d say I must be ambidextrous, but I am so completely not that this cannot be the explanation) but for the matter of “used to.” I do find managing buttonholes on the left a bit awkward simply because they’re not where I expect them.
    Now, having said that, I have to say that, given my rebellious tendencies, if there were actually a rule, I’d break it.

  164. I honestly had no idea there even WERE “rules” for the sides that buttonholes are to be placed on until I purchased EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket pattern. And, since in true Zimmerman style the pattern didn’t specify which side for which sex, I had to google, and even had a difficult time finding the info on Google. And most of my wardrobe has the buttonholes on the left side, as well, so much so that when I have a shirt or pair of pants the other way, I fumble a bit putting them on (not that my husband minds that!).

  165. Dry cleaners charge more for women’s shirts than men’s because they have an automatic ironing machine that only works with “mens” sided buttons so they have to manually press women’s shirts! The whole industry is in on this from the textile designers to the manufactures to the makers of the ironing machine. It’s a conspiracy!
    (steps away from microphone and takes a sip of “water” to calm nerves)

  166. I was under the impression that the woman being dressed by her ladies was due to the fact that the buttons were on the back of the dress.
    I can’t say as it matters to me, except that I learned to use my right hand to button my clothes, so if I put them on the “nontraditional” side for women’s clothing, I’d have a harder time with them.

  167. I could not possibly care any less whether my buttons/buttonholes are on the left or right side. Although after being reminded of the origins (I knew, but had forgotten) of the men’s vs. women’s placement, I’m very tempted to go for the men’s side just to be contrary.
    I do, however, care very much about vertical placement of buttons on my own garments, but this is because I have a large bust and get major gaping if I don’t place a button directly across the widest part of the bustline. The day I learned that I could sew my own button down tops and place my buttons differently than the pattern suggested, so as to prevent gaping, was truly liberating. I’m serious, no laughing, now. I plan to do this on all my sweaters as well (I’ve only made one so far), although I know the stretch of the fabric will help, too.
    An extra tip, if anyone else cares about gaping, is to position your buttonholes horizontally (parallel to the floor when standing) rather than vertically on a front button garment, putting the greatest stress on the buttonhole at the point of greatest strength (the end, not the middle), and preventing the buttons from accidentally unbuttoning themselves.
    Of course, most of your very smart commenters probably already know this, and I’m most likely just babbling because I’m so happy to have a topic on which I have something to say. Long time reader, rare commenter. Absolutely gorgeous sweater, by the way. And I love your rants.

  168. I usually put them according to tradition and I am used to dressing this way myself, but really I don’t care.

  169. I think that buttonholes should be installed by handed-ness not by gender.
    And that just brings up the zipper in the fly on your pants. Why is it that women’s jeans have the buttonhole on the left, for easy access to the zipper with the right hand but fancy-schmancy slacks reverse it? Is this another “class” thing? Do clothiers assume that on a day when I am wearing dressier clothes that I employ a maid-in-waiting and that I only wear jeans on the maid’s day off?

  170. Huh. I found buttonhole placement for women to be about the ONLY convenient thing for a left-handed woman in a right-handed world. One of the few things I have not been know to B!tch about re: men’s v. women’s clothing (note special section on the issue of pockets v. purses).

  171. I was ranting on this very topic just the other day. I am determined that whenever making clothing for myself I will make the closures work for ME, a right handed person.
    But enough about buttons and buttonholes, what about ZIPPERS? For the most part I live in jeans, and they tend to have zipper flys placed in a manner that makes sense to right handed users. But, every so often I put on a pair of ladies “dress” pants (dressy slacks) and the darn zipper is on the other side. Now talk about awkward and ill thought out. Unless of course you are left handed.
    Maybe clothing should be like scissors and come in left handed and right handed styles instead of completely illogical “male” and “female”.

  172. Free the buttons! Refuse to imprison them in chains of ‘no-good reason’! Liberate the hand that buttons them!
    Maybe we need to get the women in Winnipeg to hold a Mock Parliament again…

  173. Nooo – you got it all wrong. It is as simple as:
    * Women are right over left because they are always right!
    * Men are left over right, because they just get the lift overs!
    It is just the facts of life – no conspiracy, and certainly no emphasis on the importance of men!

  174. I don’t care where the buttonholes are, just so long and they heep my shirt on…
    It suppose it would be really dreadful to have a buttonhole in the middle of my back, but the button on the front, although, it might amuse quite a lot of people to try to see me button myself up.

  175. This is one of those rare occasions when random annoying social/gender/class stuff actually benefits my left-handedness. To be honest, though, I’m not fussed one way or another about it, except to wonder, as you mentioned, what all of those people who were doing the dressing of other people did when they dressed themselves. (I feel the same way when people say that women never worked outside the home until recently; I wonder who they think was doing all of the laundry and cleaning and cooking that was being sent out of wealthy homes? But that is, indeed, another rant for another time.)

  176. Heh. I had no idea buttons went on a certain side for men’s and women’s clothing until I saw that episode of Corner Gas a few years ago, where it turns out Hank and Brent are wearing “ladies'” shirts. I wasn’t certain until just now that the CG people hadn’t just made that up for laughs.

  177. While I know the history, I consider myself a Modern Woman, and as such, really don’t mind where my button holes end up! I’m a square-ish shape on top, and have been known to lurk into the men’s department for sweaters, knowing they will run a little large and broad and allowing my apple shape a better fit! (Note: yes, I am a knitter, and no, I really don’t want to knit myself a “better fitting sweater”. More mittens, please!)

  178. what my feminist fashion design professor taught me:
    “Women are always RIGHT, and men are just LEFT-over.”

  179. * Women are right over left because they are always right!
    * Men are left over right, because they just get the *left* overs!
    Yes I know… I should prrf read before pressing Post!

  180. Strongly agree! I have a few rants of my own about taking a rational, thoughtful approach to things instead of blindly following social custom, especially when the rationale behind the social custom is pukey to begin with.

  181. I’m knitting a sweater right now, and I think it would be funny to alternate… but that would make the band complicated, which would definitely require ripping back more than once. I’ll probably put them on the right, cause I’m right handed. If I made a button up sweater for my hubby (who is against button up sweaters, so it wouldn’t happen) but if I did, I would put em on the left, cause he’s a lefty. And he would like that. He likes special left handed things.
    I’m done now.

  182. The placement of buttonholes makes no difference to me and I can never remember which is which anyway. Personally I prefer a zipper.

  183. I completely agree with the whole buttonhole BS. I do the same thing that you do. I never thought about switching the buttonholes on baby boys’ sweaters, though. Will have to make a note to do that from now on. However, when I knit things for my left-handed daughter, the buttons do go on the “girls” side. (I also set her place at the table backwards but that’s a whole other thing. Don’t want to get myself worked into a rant as the mama of a lefty and how the world is unnecessarily hard for them, too.) I hope the button and/or cutlery police don’t find me!

  184. I always thought that the buttons on men’s clothes were on that side to facilitate getting out their swords (not a euphemism!) for fighting. And protecting their swordless, stymied-by-buttons women-folk.
    Also, if someone were to look at me and openly criticize my button placement, they would be dead to me. Seriously.

  185. Buttonholes, not too bothered. But a bit of history learned on a Jean Moss Knitting Tour in the UK 2007, on touring a castle. The guide said the men’s buttonholes are on the opposite side to a women’s because the men’s attendant stood behind the aristocrat to dress them.

  186. I think that when people are knitting for themselves, they should put buttons wherever they like. When knitting for babies and small children, it makes the most sense to put the buttonholes on the right, since they do not dress themselves.
    For me, however, I have spent a lot of my life buttoning buttons that are put in the traditional position for women’s clothes. As a result, on the rare occasion that I have tried to dress myself and the buttonholes are on the left, I find it difficult to do. My hands are just too used to doing it one way. So I put my buttonholes on the traditional side.
    Besides, even if buttonholes were on the same side for men and women, we might be having this debate about unfairness to left-handers.

  187. The buttonhole question is so far removed from any real modern day feminist issuers as to be laughable as subject matter. Can’t one button up with either hand? Or am I just special like that?

  188. Eh! It is just a button. I am happy if I can make a button whole. How’s the leg (foot?).

  189. Buttonholes were a Big Thing in my family (7 children – g,b,b,b,g,g,b) but more the sewing of them than the using of them pre store bought clothes and sewing machines that didn’t make buttonholes. I heard the sword story too.
    I rarely use buttons (being of the ‘if God had meant us to iron, he wouldn’t have invented knit fabrics’ school of thought and with higher pressure on my time as the family grew), and realise that the few cardigans I do have a rarely button (wanting an air of panache – though that wouldn’t do for the FLS), but for my family I can get obsessive about button side placement, though I so directionally challenged it wouldn’t occur to me what side somebody’s else’s button placement was unless I was trying on their clothes.
    In the 1970s I was so freaked by the concept of asymmetrical button placement I doubt that I have yet come to grips with such a stunning idea. I too mourn the demise of beautiful buttons and am the proud owner of my mother’s button box (of which you have done a previous post)and delight in truly remarkable buttons in this mass produced age.

  190. I get in such a funk about pooling in wool (I am also short and tend to overweight, so wide horizontal bands are not a good look)I would go for the alternating two balls of variegated wool concept – which so blows me away I think a genius must have thought of it.

  191. Please, by all means, put the buttonholes where you wish. I think I am quoting you when I say, You are in charge of your knitting.

  192. Wow! Another cool history lesson for my students! Reading your blog is not only entertaining but quite educating! Who would’da thunk?! LOL

  193. I don’t really care about where the buttonholes go. (I was aware of the history before your post.) That said, I usually place them on the “traditional” sides for the gender of the recipient just because I myself find it a lot faster to get dressed when I don’t have to think about how to button my shirt. I have occasionally worn men’s clothing and do find it requires more fumbling. If I cared to, I’m sure I could learn lickety split to handle buttons on the other side, but I’m just not vested in it. I’ve got other feminist fights to wage.

  194. Also, this is the exact kind of issue that would have me obsessing over which side IS the left side – the left if you are WEARING the sweater, or the left if you are FACING the sweater? And then I would have to stab myself in the eye with a shrimp fork. Obviously.

  195. I’m not just a leftist, I’m also a lefty. So I rejoice that a tradition intended to benefit the ladies actually works to my advantage!

  196. There was an interesting discussion of this issue at Ravelry today. I believe the concensus of opinion was “Put them where you want them!” (and be damned!) Chuckles evilly!

  197. I saw the first comment yesterday about the buttonholes; looked down at my white uniform coat which happens to have buttonholes on the left; didn’t know if it was ‘unisex’ or what; shrugged as I had no other garment nearby and really can’t remember nor really care which side buttonholes are ‘supposed’ to be on. (Just now I realized my winter coat, hanging not far away from me, does have buttonholes on the right.) I guess I button buttons as I knit stitches: “comme ils se presentent”, as they present themselves, apparently, without thinking about it. But all one way would make the most sense. Or customized to the handedness of the wearer, if one wished.
    Thanks for the history of fashion lesson! I love that stuff.

  198. I’m glad to have remembered to put the buttonhole in at all-never mind which side!!!

  199. Yay! I’m not the only one who like my button holes where they are easy to use! Can’t wait to see the next installment of the sweater.

  200. I was with you until the “manipulate with the right hand” part. Huh?! But my right hand is useless! I hate using it! Why would a leftie try to manipulate buttons with the right hand?
    See, caught ya. ๐Ÿ˜› Then again… when do I wear enough sweaters with buttons to care? Caught myself.

  201. I agree completely with you on the buttonholes. I’ve found that some of my storebought clothes aren’t consistent on which side the button holes are on and it vexes me when they’re on the right.
    I was just discussing with a friend today about how some etiquette rules are outdated and need to go away. Such as ladies first into the elevator and ladies first out of the elevator. I swear, we both worked at a company where this was practically enforced. I saw younger men stop themselves from leaving an elevator before me for fear of professional disaster. I prefer the get the hell out of my way rules for entering and exiting elevators. Are you closest to the door? Then go through it!

  202. I’m left handed so I like the button holes on the right side so I can button up with one hand.

  203. Amen! I wear mens jeans almost exclusively for a few reasons, one of which is the buttons. I also get really torked by the fact that mens pants have deeper pockets and are made long enough so that my crack in back doesn’t show. I was almost thrown out of a Gap store for having the audacity to ask for a pair of mens jeans once. It felt really good…

  204. I don’t find either way more difficult than the other, since I push the button with the fingers on one hand and pull it with the fingers on the other. I’m using both hands, just like when I knit.

  205. Button button who’s got the button ? Who cares what side it’s on as long as you do it up . I for one did not notice the button holes on the “”wrong – right ” side . How would you feel if you knit a whole cardigan and completly forgot the holes ? I know !

  206. I always wondered about that button hole placement thing. I say put ’em where you want ’em and be happy!

  207. Right? Left? Right? Wrong? It’s all too conformist for this fibre artist. Let the buttonholes fall where they may as long as they add to the art and not detract.

  208. I learned about the button hole thing when taking some design courses and always found it a bit weird.
    Personally, I use two hands to button, so I don’t really care which side it’s on.

  209. I continue to put buttons on the “girl” side only because that is what I am accustomed to, and it honestly feels really awkward to button up the other way, if I’m wearing one of my boyfriend’s shirts, for instance. Other than that, though, I don’t see why it should matter. Can we have the rant about why a lazy kate is not “lazy”? I’m curious about that one.

  210. I don’t know if someone else has commented on this already. (I couldn’t bring myself to cull through more than 230 comments — do you do that every day?) But here’s fodder for another feminist rant:
    The reason that the dry cleaner charges more to launder women’s blouses than men’s shirts? It’s because the buttons on women’s blouses are on the “wrong” side, so that the ironing machine has to be re-set, requiring more labor, and therefore a higher cost.
    Feel free to rant away!

  211. I have to say that I care about buttonhole placement but only in period garments where I’m recreating or interpreting for re-creation from period items. Otherwise I really only care that they’re evenly spaced and don’t allow gaping over my boobs. ;D

  212. Stephanie.
    Fascinating button hole discussion,(no,really!) But, where is your long flight heading? Sweater is lovely. How do you take sharp pointy objects like knitting needles on the airplane with you? I need to know for a future trip…I didn’t think they would be allowed…(Special “License to Knit”?)
    Enjoy your trip..Knit on..

  213. And what about discrimination against the left-handed? As someone who was switched away from the left hand, towards the right one, I am deeply confused and resentful. But I knit awfully fast, in continental style.

  214. The history of why buttons for men are on the left.
    Men’s buttonholes are on the left because the gentlemen had grooms, dressers or valets. They were on the left so they faced the groomer so he could button the buttons for him. They now have to do it themselves! LOL
    I put them where I want them too except when I am knitting for a man then I always put them on the left.

  215. The good thing about a rule that no one remembers without checking is that no one really cares. When I realized everyone checked with everyone else and then checked clothing and found inconsistencies and got stumped, the rule need not be followed any longer.
    Then there’s the left handed thing too.
    And when you really think about it, buttoning things is a two handed job (or is it just me?), much like knitting, where, whatever gives you the results, is the rule. Period.

  216. I’m totally with you on the button thing. I think it’s crazy to have one side for men, one for women! Do it however you like.

  217. Maybe someone said this already, but if women need to use their left hand to button their clothes, it’s because we are multi-taskers and are probably doing something with the right hand already – hence the need for using the left for buttoning…j

  218. Okay this is sad, I seriously got up and looked in my closet and looked at just about every one of my button-down shirts to see if all of them had the button holes on the right. (They did.)

  219. I’m of the “put ’em anywhere you want ’em” school of buttonhome placement. I’m also right with ya on the social ranking biz. Grrr.
    When I was a young woman somebody told me that only men should use their middle initial when they sign something, and I’ve defiantly used my middle initial ever since. Hmmmpf. That showed them.

  220. I’ve always wondered about this controversy, since I need both hands to button my shirts. The one-handed buttoner seems amazingly dexterous to me…

  221. I’d always assumed that the maids buttoned or laced each other up, at least until they had front-fastening busks on your corsets.

  222. I’m right there with you. I feel strongly that there is a perception of a boy’s side and a girl’s side for buttonholes (and boy’s and girl’s toys and colors and and and). I think it makes 100% sense to put them where they are most convenient for self or assisted dressing and I strive to do that with garments I make.
    Now if only I could remember which side was which in that context…
    Screw it. Everybody gets zippers.

  223. I’m with you on the buttonholes. My inner feminist is unleashed if someone dares object.
    As for the color change, I recommend the time-honored method of alternating balls of yarn every 2 rows. Even with my handspun.

  224. I just randomly add button hole on the same side and hopefully they look right….
    just wondering…what length of sleeves are you making??

  225. I hate buttonholes. They are a pain to make and they are just as easy to do up on either side.
    This is a problem because I also love cardigans … which often have buttons … which often results in me making pullovers. Solution? Cry.

  226. I haven’t read the 34,856 comments above to see if this has been mentioned or not, but from one of the guys in the audience, we do appreciate having the buttons on the easier side for us when we’re helping a lady out of her encumbrances after a date…

  227. A perfect example of why “because we have always done it this way” is not a good enough reason!

  228. dear harlot… I have two questions…. is there any possibility you’ll be touring the NJ area in the near future? AND I just received my packet from MSFDWB ~ very nice. Can you tell me how to put the link up on my website?
    thanks you
    as far as buttons I’m with you anyway that makes my life (or someone else’s) easier or less challenging!

  229. I am right there with you on feminist rant #27 (subgroup D), but unfortunately I derail the entire argument.
    I’m left-handed, and for me, it *is* easier to have the buttonholes on the right.
    It’s the spirit that counts, right?

  230. Ha! I love it when you rant, it makes me feel just this side of normal. Like I said yesterday, I put them right or left it just depends on when and if I remember to do them. Zippers and clasps are my friends. :o)

  231. I work for a theater in a costume shop, which means my job involves sewing on buttons. In my real life, I do not care where buttons go, but at work, I am required to care. This is how my college sewing teacher taught us to remember where the buttons go on men and women: “You are at a drive-in movie. For the sake of argument, the man is behind the wheel. So, the buttons are placed so EACH person can reach into the other person’s shirt.” Men: left over right, women: right over left. Easy!

  232. Not to be difficult or obnoxious, but in my 61 years, buttons have always been on the LEFT, and buttonholes on the right on women’s and girl’s clothing, at least the commercially-made type (and in the U.S.; maybe it’s different in Canada or other countries.) Men and boys have always been the opposite. My hubby would have noticed right away if the buttons were not correctly placed on the right on his clothes. My left-handed son never had an issue with the buttons on the right side of his shirts, either.
    Personally, I have a preference just because old habits are hard to break, but I couldn’t care less where other people put theirs and I would never be rude enough to make mention of it to anyone! Just my 2 cents for today!

  233. Maybe it’s the sleep deprived fog of lambing season, but I can’t imagine I’d even notice which side the button is, when looking at someone’s beautiful handknit sweater. Put em where you want em.

  234. I have blouses (women’s) with the buttonholes on the right and others with buttonholes on the left. I don’t particularly care, as long as the darn thing stays buttoned!

  235. I am not wild about buttons. (Not sure why) And since I tend to avoid them, buttonholes are not a problem. I do like your philosophy, though.

  236. I have far better things to worry about than which side the buttonholes are on! Besides, I refuse to let “them” decide where mine should be!

  237. I love buttons, hate buttoning. So I leave them buttoned through the wash, leaving minimal buttons to button and unbutton. I love mother of pearl buttons the most. Kind of a weird thing, I know. Save them all.
    However, I think change is a-coming, starting with the Harlot. Thanks for the rant.
    And women are always right, wherever their buttons are.
    Also, what did you do with BSJ? Just curious!
    My two cents. I have an opinion on everything!

  238. I always wondered about buttons on the left or the right. I always forget which side is which. I say to heck with it all and join you in putting buttonholes where I dang well please. You know, this could start a whole new fashion revolution.

  239. Wow. I never knew that about buttonholes. That is so cool! You SOOOOOOOO need the Ravelry
    Love(1) button on this blog!
    PS: Button holes wherever ya want em!

  240. I have no real opinion when it comes to button placement. As long as they meet up with the button on the other side, I don’t care where it is.
    What I hate is when the button hole is too small for the button (I’m looking at you Gap.)

  241. WOW! I knew about the buttonhole side thing but never was enlightened about why and all I can say is Wow. I guess I will stop following my patterns blindly and knit as though I dress myself – which I do and will hereafter knit baby clothes as if they did not dress themselves, which of course they do not. Thank you for the liberation!

  242. Not all the “women’s” garments that I buy adhere to said “rule”. If they are “reversed” I simply learn that that particular item needs to be manipulated in a manner opposite of what I’m accustomed to.
    While I will admit that some mornings it would be nice to have someone dress me (AND do my hair, AND shave my legs, AND (more importantly) take the dog out) it will never happen. Therefore, I’ve found it useful to become ambidextrous in the field of buttons, doorknobs, scissors (you never know), etc. If my right arm ever parts company with the rest of my torso, I rest assured that my left arm will be there at the ready to pick up the slack!

  243. It’s comforting to know that even YOU know you’re going to take something out but continue to knit for some odd inches AND THEN frogging.

  244. I’m ambivalent about button placement, but after thirty-odd years of dressing myself with buttons on the “girl” side, I go all fumble-fingers if they’re on the other side. ๐Ÿ˜€

  245. I had some prior knowledge of buttonhole history, but it hadn’t occured to me until now that babies’ buttonholes should be placed where convenient for their mothers. I’m frantically trying to think back through the piles of baby cardigans I’ve made to remember what I did with the buttonholes. I’m sure there are new mothers out there cursing me for doing them backwards!

  246. Once upon a time, when the world was quite young and I was, too, I was jealous of my father, who could easily slip two of his fingers between the buttons of his shirt to make his “heart go pit-a-pat” (as he would say, as he tapped his fingers above his heart). I could not do this because the buttons on my shirt were on the wrong side. Now I’ve become so accustomed to having them on the wrong side that I’d probably be all confused if they were on the right side.

  247. I have a mild preference for buttonholes on the right, but I’m not sure whether that’s because I’m left-handed or just because I’m used to them. I wear zippers a lot more often than buttons, anyway…

  248. And here I thought it was to make it easier for men to unbutton women’s garments. Huh, who’d a thought.
    This really doesn’t inspire me to make a sign and join the parade, so I’m glad you’re covering for me. I’m just happy if I remember to knit the proper number of buttonholes and don’t realize, when I’m sewing on the buttons, that I missed one or two.
    If you want to start a rant about why men can buy shirts with the proper sleeve length, though, I’ll dig out my old Earth shoes and march with you.

  249. I have been a seamstress for years, and make reproduction 1880’s Western shirts. So, I have to follow the ‘rules’ as it were, so I pay attention to that only with shirts, blouses, etc. The rest, ( knitting, crocheting, etc) I do what I want. There should be no rules. I argue this all the time with my quilt group too!

  250. I’ve known the buttonhole history story for ages but never quite understood the “big deal” about it all (other than the obvious classist issue). Being an ambidexter I’ve worn things both ways and never noticed a preference. However, I will say that I prefer my cardis to be without closures of any kind–I always wear them open. Does this render my opinion on the subject moot? ๐Ÿ™‚
    I agree with other commenters that anyone who finds it necessary to declare & point out your alleged “wrongness” on the subject has deeper and more disturbing issues of their own. The buttonhole police don’t have more important things over which to get upset and riled?

  251. I put buttonholes on the convenient side. But then I once made a formal dress with the “wrong” side of the fabric showing because I liked that side better. Only one person commented (thanks Mom!) and I knew she would. I used to wear white after Labor Day (when that was still a faux pas) because it looks good on me. I laugh in the face of pointless “rules.” It amuses me that people get fussed about such things.

  252. The standization when garments started being mass produced was done because…..
    If you make Womens one way and Men’s the other, you can charge differently for them because you don’t want people being able to buy just one shirt and have two people wear it, now do you??? LOL

  253. I’m lefthanded, and pretty ambidextrous (have to be in this rh world), so buttonholes on the right is fine for me. However, as a pianist, I’m usually glad the buttonholes are on the right. Why? I’m large busted, and if I sat down to play at a grand with a buttoned blouse on, the audience wouldn’t be able to see if the buttons popped loose or the blouse gapped and showed a peek or bra.
    Yeah, I’m weird.

  254. It’s perfectly OK to be arbitrary about buttonhole sides- I’m not allowed too because I make clothes for other people and I’ve discovered that some people (Men, really) are really fussy about it and some of them can’t even figure out how to fasten the buttons when they have changed sides.
    Another reason for the men left over right thing is that they used to have swords and it was easier for a right handed man to draw his sword out- hung on his left side- thru the opening of his coat that way. You should just tell people it’s easier to whip your needles out.

  255. OMG does it really matter. Atleast your putting buttons on. You could just hang out. NOT!!! way to cold. forget the buttons and show those bodacious tatas. Rally now. Joe probably wouldn’t mind as long as you stay home when you wear it.
    Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. Been a long day.

  256. Well, as a tailor of men’s suits, I can tell you that I live in fear of accidentally marking the buttonholes on the wrong side for a suit. At least we don’t have the knife in the buttonhole machine so that if it happened the hole wouldn’t be cut.
    Now I’ve never done it, but I recently heard that it happened by a guy who knew a guy who usually made women’s wear and they didn’t realize until it was too late!A true story I swear!!
    Other than for work, and unless someone is dressing you, put them wherever suits you, so to speak!

  257. Ahhh… But, I am left handed, so buttonholes on the right have always made sense to me. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Honestly, I don’t really care where buttonholes are – I would never notice on someone else’s shirt or sweater if they were socially correct!

  258. I always put buttons on the side indicated for men. This is a long habit, since I was in a marching band in high school where boys and girls all had shirts that buttoned the same way, for uniformity. Since the only things I make with buttons are luau shirts, which are unisex, I’ve never had any remarks. In sweaters, I prefer pullovers to cardigans, so buttons aren’t an issue in knitwear.
    It’s raining in California, and I smell like a wet llama.

  259. So I had heard that buttonhole placement was a general gender rule and since I shop for my clothing at second-hand stores quite often, I’ve used that little bit of info to help me not embarrass my kids by putting them in the wrong gender clothing. Now the reason why (to this day) that we keep up with a really old tradition is just absurd. Put your buttonholes where you %$#@ well please! Carolyn in NC

  260. Well, I did some googling and it was the manufacturers who made it standardized, not the classes. I had also heard it was union vs non-union. The manufacturer reason sounds right.
    What kills me is who decided that large women would be able to pull up a left side zipper on a pair of slacks without dislocating a shoulder?
    (as for button placement, it doesn’t matter as there are equal numbers of buttons and holes)

  261. What about ‘impairment of the ease with which left-handers move about on the earth’? To be honest after a lifetime of wearing clothes buttoning on the usual women’s side, I am used to it and find buttons arranged the ‘male clothes’ way to be more awkward to fasten. On the other hand I’m a lefty too and therefore the usual women’s button arrangement, awkward for righties doing their own buttons, is more suited to me anyway. That might be why.

  262. Doryphore. That’s the word. from the OED: “One who draws attention to the minor errors made by others, esp. in a pestering manner; a pedantic gadfly.” That’s what buttonhole-placement critics are being.
    Forget all the arguments about who uses what hand to do what – if somebody says there’s been a mistake, they must believe two things: that there is a right way and a wrong way to do something, and that they are entitled to judge the matter. I don’t think that’s the case here, so I would ignore them.

  263. Isn’t this the best thing of making our own garment? – Customize it as you like! You can make buttonholes on any side, as many or no buttons at all, as you like. You can make any length of sleeves. Powers on our hands, Knitters!

  264. Eh, I can’t really care: I don’t find it easier to button buttons on the right, perhaps because I am used to them on the left, so I don’t really think it’s unjust or stupid to have them on either side. However, pants zippers that open to the left will put me in a rage! ๐Ÿ™‚

  265. As a lefty I am discriminated against in most things so as a woman I can’t complain about traditional button placement. My husband is also a lefty so I guess he suffers. HA!
    HA! HA!
    Oh well. Score one for me!

  266. I really never paid much attention to where buttonholes are located. As long as the buttons that are to be buttoned are even with the holes…
    who the heck cares? Hard to believe there is a HISTORY to it…

  267. Hey, most of us wear men’s shirts a lot so who cares what side the buttons are on? Flexible, that be us. But I wish I could figure out the vertical bit so I don’t have an extra one at top or bottom, that would be useful

  268. I knew the history of buttonholes, I don’t like that clothing was styled for the upper ranks who had servants to dress them, though considering the amount of clothing they wore, who would have the energy to do all that themselves? Or the strength to pull something so tight onto yourself?
    My gripe is that the side of the buttonholes “determines” whether the garment is a man’s shirt or a woman’s blouse, and we can therefore charge more for the blouse to dryclean it. What??? I don’t get that one.
    The flip side of the argument would be that all shirts would be made the same, then lefties would complain that they are being discriminated against. Can you see this in a store: “pardon me, but do you have this shirt in a left?”

  269. When I was a kid we passed hand-me-down clothes through an extended family of cousins,some male some female. My parents never told us about “correct” sides of buttons. So i grew up wearing shirts with buttons on both sides as did my brothers.To this day I can’t remember which way is which.

  270. I agree, why should it matter what side the buttons are on. To me, it’s a matter of comfort. Live on the wild side… wear your buttons on the other side. LOL!

  271. I did know about the historical reasons for buttonholes on opposite sides for men and women. I never paid too much attention to that. I usually knit sweaters for babies and kids, so, who really cares what side the buttonholes are on. With three kids, I often make things in a fairly unisex color to maximize the number of my kids who wear the darn thing. I think for myself I usually put the button holes on the typical side for women, only because it’s what I’m used to. If I mistakenly put them on the other side, I wouldn’t bother to rip it out because, really, WHO CARES?! ๐Ÿ™‚

  272. Had sleeves with button trim on a suit altered recently. The right sleeve was put on the left side and vice versa. I wore it twice before someone pointed out the problem. The overlap really bothered me after I knew and I had the jacket fixed. Not the same thing as your situation, but on sleeves, one side is right buttonhole and one is left.

  273. I agree with thinking it is a bit presumptous for anyone to “decide” that your buttons are on the wrong side, and then inform you of it.I may make “Doryphore” my new favourite word!(thanks!) unless of course they saw that you put them on the back of the sweater, and they thought maybe you hadn’t noticed yet…… rant away-I’m on the same page!

  274. Honestly, I’ve never given buttonhole placement much thought, nor have I ever felt encumbered by having to dress myself with buttonholes that are on one side versus the other. I figure, dude, they’re buttonholes! As long as my top stays shut and I’m not flashing the world, then it’s all good. LOL

  275. Which side? I figure as long as I have the same number of buttons that I have of buttonholes I’m doing good!

  276. It doesn’t matter to me- I’m somewhat ambidexterous- I don’t have any difficulties with buttons.

  277. personnally, I like them on the right, because I’m used to it. I wear collared shirts all the time, because it’s part of the school dress code, so I don’t personally care. Besides, I am of the firm belief that had I been born about 200 years earlier, I would be one of those maids. I like to do things for other people.

  278. I put the buttonholes on whichever side I’m working on when I realize, “#(@&#, I’ve knit one whole button band and 26 rows of the other and still haven’t knitted in any @*(!$%ing buttonholes! %)(&#@%!!”
    In my last sweater I was so traumatized by an extreme steeking disaster that I forgot to add any buttonholes at all. Historical gender roles are pretty much the least of my worries.

  279. Here’s a thought – make buttonholes on BOTH sides of the garment and close it with linked buttons, kind of like cufflinks. That would be a great way to show off some pretty buttons. Alternatively, you could just leave off the buttonholes entirely and use button loops.

  280. I’m left handed, so I think I’m ok with the traditional placement of ladies’ buttons. But not for the traditional reasons!! I admit that I have not given this topic enough thought. Thank you for enlightening us all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  281. I’d read the history before, and yeah, it’s silly, but my hands are so accustomed to the traditional girl button arrangement that if I try to button/unbutton a shirt or sweater with the traditional boy button arrangement, it just weirds me out. My fingers fumble.

  282. Being a contrary person, when I knit my one and only cardigan, I purposely put the buttons on the “man’s” side because I think it absolutely ridiculous beyond belief that they are “supposed to be” different for each sex. Besides, I like them better there!
    I had always heard that men’s clothes buttoned that way to enable them to remove their swords quickly in case of a duel!

  283. I like to have the buttons on the “correct” (historical) side, because I’ve often thought I should have been born in another time and it makes me feel connected to the past.

  284. Being somewhat dyslexic and a left hander to boot, I gave up on even trying to remember which side the buttons or buttonholes go-they just end up on one side or the other-I figure I have a 50/50 chance of being correct to someone if they at all care about such things. I for one Don”t and apparantly many others don’t care either.

  285. I, too, wondered how you might react to those comments. Doryphores! (My new favourite word too.)

  286. If it’s the little things that make up life, then regarding this littlish issue: I feel foolish to admit how liberated I feel with your entry today; how foolish to have been intimidated by this rule; how I feel almost a taboo to impose buttons on the incorrect side for even/especially a baby! Brother! How easily we fall asleep at life, and have no guts to speak out on these little things.
    Thanks, Steph. Love ya.

  287. I learned to sew long before I started knitting. My grandmother and mother taught me to sew and they said to put the buttons where it’s easiest for the person wearing the garment to use it. I just found out a couple weeks ago that my husband and I are going to be having a baby, so when I make clothes for the baby, I will put them where it makes it easiest for us to dress the kid. Some of my sewing books even give this advice. Sewing for Dummies pretty much says, it’s yours so do what you want.
    Now, I do some historical re-enactment. When I make costumes for these things, I follow the “rules” for garment making. When I do events, I do have a maidservant, so it works out. At the local event, I’m the wife of a French merchant and my friend Roberta is my bondmaid. It’s great. She carries my basket for me. Yeah, ok, we’re really just spending all our time looking at the men in kilts.
    So, basically, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.

  288. First time poster and another lefty female. Generally happy with right-side buttonholes, although when I was in ROTC it was frustrating that a woman’s “gig line” could never line up because the shirt buttoned opposite the zipper fly.
    I had heard that the reason they charged more to dry clean women’s shirts was because women’s shirts had darts and could not be pressed in a flat machine anyway. (I think I will continue to believe this as I am an optimist).
    I do have to admit, that when I make a cardigan it’s really tempting to just put a tie in and call it done.

  289. Sally Melville’s Einstein Jacket has the buttonholes on the left and I’m not about to argue with Sally. I manage to get myself dressed just fine.

  290. Wow! That’s an interesting bit if history. Funny timing for me as well. The other day I bought jeans for the first time that have a button hole on the right(not sure why I haven’t come across it before). Well I just about ripped my nail off trying to get the things on. OK the pants are kinda tight but the nail was short! So, once my knitting is at the button hole level i’ll be making them on the LEFT!

  291. I have not knit enough cardigans to really tell if I have a prefferance. To tell you the truth, I would probably put them on whatever side I happened to at the moment without any thought to it. I had actually forgotten that they were different for men and women. I am right handed and have never had any problems buttoning my own shirt, though, so I say do whatever!

  292. That’s ok, rant all you want. I know the historic tradition but can’t for the life of me remember which side is for which sex. So, if the pattern says to make buttonholes with the “x” garter ridge, I make one on one side or the other and stay consistent with that project. But, don’t ask me which side girl/womans/ladies garment button on. I can’t remember.

  293. If you alternated them with half of each on either side, then you’d befuddle people enough that they wouldn’t have time to worry about what’s “correct.” They’d just think it was a fashion statement and you’d get a lot of double takes of the front of your sweater.

  294. yeah, but I bet you still don’t even have any buttons picked out.
    Am I right, eh, eh, Do I get a prize?

  295. I always though that women’s buttons were on the left-side to make it easier to carry a baby and nurse it. And that men’s buttons were on the right-side to make it easier to unbutton a coat or jacket and draw one’s sword – easier that is, for those who are right-handed.
    Truthfully, I can never remember which side is for whom. As a result I am petrified about getting it wrong and therefore will not knit cardigans, especially for babies – who might be scarred for life.
    Happy knitting,

  296. i never remember which side is for which sex, i just put them were ever the pattern tells me too, but it winds up backwards due to the fact that i knit left handed, still comes out pretty…but anyway, i agree with you, i hate anything that starts with “tradition states…” once that phrase starts a sentence, its pretty much down hill. times have changed, and so do traditions

  297. I know and understand about the button placement thingy. My Mother was old school so it was important when I was growing up. I (still) can never remember which side the darn things go on and usually end up asking my Mom. If she is not available for common sense and direction, I just put them on which ever side happens.
    I think if it was very important to me I might actually try to remember instead of cheating and asking my Mom. or could this be a deep seated childish rebellious tactic?
    BTW, are you still looking for the Classics in Kroy pattern book? I emailed you earlier today but perhaps your inbox was hungry and swallowed it right up LOL.

  298. I actually did know why women’s buttonholes are on a different side than men’s. As for my buttonholes? They go on whatever side I’m on when I remember that I need to put some in…ha-ha!

  299. Thank you–I always used to stress about it because I’d accidentally put the holes on the “wrong” side, but now I won’t anymore. I just wish I could knit as fast as you do.

  300. I love a good feminist rant. One thing puzzles me about the buttonhole rule, or ex-rule–doesn’t it take more dexterity to manipulate the buttonhole side of the button? When I button a button, the action is all in the buttonhole, which I have to grasp, stretch over the button, and flatten out. The button-side hand does very little. (Think of the pick-up-and-knit motion where you move the hole over the needle, not the needle through the hole.) So a righty getting dressed for himself would need buttons on the left. Or am I just buttoning strangely?

  301. OMG… this reminds me of the BEST thing I learned while earning my apparel design degree. We, silly children that we were, could never remember which side to put the buttonholes on. Our professor, a lovely women, who was a teen in the 50’s, said,
    ” Just pretend you are at a drive-in, and your boyfriend is in the driver’s seat, and he needs “easy access”.” That means that ladies buttons NEED to be on the right hand side. Much better than the servants version, don’t ya think? I never forget where to put the buttons….

  302. I agree with Janey above. Historically men only had to do one thing at a time, defend, and women had to multitask. She could hold a child with her left while she weeded the garden with her right. Although I’m right-handed, I have always buttoned my shirts with my left. I have a hard time buttoning “male” shirts because my right hand seems to think that such a crude and mundane task should be delegated to the left hand.

  303. I could never remember which side was the ‘right’ side, now you have made it clear and I will continue to place mine on the right side that makes sense to me!

  304. The only way I’ve ever been able to remember the convention is to hold my right hand up as if to shove it inside my shirt, ร  la Napolรฉon. I really can’t be arsed to care or pay attention otherwise, though I do like being able to dress myself.

  305. I am so traditional, I don’t think I could dress myself if the buttons were moved to the other side. And I’m right-handed, too. I love the history of clothing, and it was explained to me that in early days, a woman’s buttons were in the back, so she didn’t have a chance of dressing herself anyway, and the buttons were indeed placed for the convenience (!) of the maids who dressed these ladies.
    Your sweater is sooooo beautiful! I am in awe, and I thought I could spin! I bow before you.

  306. There is history to buttonhole placement! When men used swords, and presumably were all right handed, clothing that lapped left over right allowed a man to quickly slide his hand under the front of his jacket and pull out his sword which was worn under his outer garment. Not sure what the lefties did. I learned this from costume history classes at university. Whenever I cannot remember what side to use for the buttonholes,I think of this.

  307. I didn’t really notice that shirts/pants had buttonholes/zippers on certain sides… personally, I thought that my buttons were all on the left for some reason, probably because I wasn’t so sure that I didn’t do anything with the button, but moved the buttonhole instead of the button when dressing…. It’s really all the same to me.
    Wouldn’t families with a maid have more than one and they can help each other dress?

  308. Msny long tears ago, I was given a vision to teach me how to remember where the buttonholes go on garments for different genders.
    The story begin in USA or Canada (or anywhere one drives a right-hand drive vehicle) as a couple goes for a ride to the local outdoor movie, another horror show. The thrill of the movie grows cold, while the thrill inside the cars heats up. They sit closer and closer to each other and begin to kiss and explore. From where he is sitting in the car, next to her, he can see directly between the folds of her blouse. She’s not entirely put off by his looks of appreciation because she, too, has a grand view of the muscles rippling under his buttoned oxford.
    This proves that our old grannies knew how to have a good time and taught us innocent rules so we could have fun too!

  309. Actually, I’m right handed, but I don’t manipulate the buttons into the holes as much as I manipulate the holes over the buttons. So having the holes or hooks on the right side suits me…

  310. Shortly after my mom won the grand champion ribbon at the Colorado State Fair for her man’s tailored shirt (she was quite a needle artist), she made my brother a shirt and put the buttonholes on the “wrong” side. She never got over the embarrassment.

  311. I always use my right hand to button my buttons, and I wear women’s clothing. Hmmmm……
    One of my pet peeves is that “athletic socks” like the kind you buy at Foot Locker or Lady’s Foot Locker, for example are cushier if you buy the men’s!! (same brand) I discovered this when buying “running socks” (altho I’ve never been a runner).

  312. Right or left doesn’t challenge me much. But figuring out where that all-important bust line button should go for a full-busted woman is the stuff of sleepless nights. If the buttonhole’s too big, the button slips out and a C cup or larger can pop out, too (usually when wearing a ratty bra). It also seems silly that a dozen buttons have to be closed and opened for dressing when the top 2 can be undone and the garment pulled over your head. Sometimes the only buttons that are really used ARE those top ones! Having said that, I admit to loving the look of a button front (or back) especially when the buttons are spectacular in design and color. Lead on to the button shop!

  313. I always put the buttonholes on the right because it is the start of the row. If I put them on the left (end of the row) with my luck I’d forget at least one and have to frog back.

  314. Delighted to read your button hole comments because when I saw where you’d put your’s I’d just assumed that I’d read the pattern wrong!
    I love the idea that hundreds of us are all knitting FLS at the same time. Ashamed to admit however, I was a little smug that you had to frog yours because you are going way faster than me (sorry!)
    Thanks for the blog, and thanks for telling us about FLS.

  315. I go with Frances and Lish- buttons where you so damn well please- as long as the buttons are on the other side! Your desk calendar is keeping me sane at work by the way- I use the reverse of the gone days to write notes to my collegues- I will get them knitting!I WILL!

  316. I also have broad shoulders and love men’s shirts so like a previous commenter, I don’t care where the button hole is. I always forget which side it’s supposed to be on anyway. This does cause the occasional comment from friends and acquaintances who do pay attention with such things. Honestly, I figure people like what they like and who cares? Where a person puts their buttonholes shouldn’t bother anyone because it’s not something that affects anyone else. The world doesn’t stop because I like to wear men’s shirts or because a bunch of knitters put their button holes where it’s the most convenient for them. The best part is that since I don’t care about where my button holes are, I never notice where anyone elses are either. You still haven’t told us of how you spun your roving and if the color transitions in your yarn are accidental or you had a plan. I’m dying to know because I have a kg of Polwarth from Francine and I want my yarn to have the same type of color changes yours does. I just love how you colors flow in the top part of your sweater. Sorry for the frogging! Happy Knitting.

  317. I don’t care which side the button holes are on – I didn’t even realise for a very long time that the difference was based on gender. But I also don’t understand the argument that one way or the other is easier depending if you’re right- or left-handed. I button my shirts with the right hand no matter which side the buttons are on. How does the side make a difference? You put the button side under the holey side and pull the button through – simple as that.

  318. I can never remember which side buttonholes are “supposed” to go, & honestly don’t really care.
    I knew the history part, but that is outdated now & not relevant (unless by chance you have a maid who dresses you in the morning).
    So really, who gives a damn about convention?
    Put the buttons wherever is more comfortable for you.

  319. I can never remember which side the buttons are supposed to go and don’t care. Perhaps this comes from wearing my brother’s hand-me-down coats as a child.Quite often I avoid the whole question and use zips or sometimes I too follow the pattern. For babies I put them where the are most helpful for the parent and that depends on whether they are left or right-handed. I know a lot of left-handers. The babies are not going to care.

  320. I always forget where they are supposed to go and just pick a side with no thought at all. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do lots of things in life that way. Life with small children makes you loose your brain.

  321. Dunno why but this entry made me think of a children’s song here in the US:
    Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
    All dressed in black, black, black
    With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
    All down her back, back, back.
    Now so long as my buttons are down my front, I don’t care what side of the opening they’re on.
    Read the fascinating US Civil War history of this children’s song at

  322. Buttons where you like. If you let someone tell you where to put them it is no longer YOUR sweater but THEIRS.

  323. That was some interesting bits to learn about the buttons. As I dressmaker I was thaught where to put them (but never why).
    Once I made a shirt for my (now ex). Very expensive fine linen, special bias cut (remember father Ralph in the Thornbirds? That style), special sewing everything. At the end after long consideration I incidently put the buttonholes on the “wrong” side…
    Nowadays I try to put my buttons on the “appropriate” sight, but that is just because I like traditions (still knit with straight needles whenever possible, and try to avoid zippers whenever possible), but that doesn’t mean anyone else should.
    That is the main advantage of handmade items, you can do it however you like them. However it would suit you the best.

  324. I place them on the left, and always have as a rule, for the sake of consistency since I have long worn men’s shirts, because even before I was blessed with the motherly girth I now enjoy, I was blessed with broad shoulders and biceps.
    The whole buttonhole history thing was explained to me by my mother, who had it from her mother and grandmother and so on, and who also often opted for left placement.
    And now, you’ve added one more thing to this ambidextrous person’s watch list for that discussion with JMM about handedness. Thanks for that.
    Yeah, huh, I use either hand seemingly at random to do up buttons.

  325. Being ambidextrous, I don’t care where I land buttonholes. I just make an effort to have them all on the same side of the opening. Which side that is usually makes sense at the time I am knitting. Although someday I am going to make a sweater with a zig-zaggy front so I can put the buttonholes on both sides of the opening, just because I can.
    This is on sweaters for me. When knitting for others, I try to be logical about it, and I like your logic, Stephanie!

  326. Wow, what a liberating post. I can never remember which side a woman’s buttonband is “supposed” to go and always spend time thinking about it because I didn’t want to end up with a “man” sweater. Thank you for what you said, because now I have stopped caring and will put the buttonholes where they please me.
    I always said you are the best, and here’s the proof!

  327. Wow – I have always wondered what the reason is behind having buttonholes on opposite sides. That being said, I really have no opinion on the matter. I have noticed when I’ve bought clothes that have buttonholes on the opposite side (please to note I said “opposite” and not “wrong”!) only because I when I put them on they were opposite.
    However, now when knitting cardigans, I might put some thought in the matter for sake of ease for the recipient!

  328. This happened to me just the other day, the outrage I mean. I was about to add buttonholes and couldn’t remember what side to put them on for a girl’s sweater and was getting so annoyed that it even matters. Why does it matter anymore? Seriously people.

  329. I never even realized that there was a difference in where the buttonholes went until I started knitting. Now I just do what the pattern says, because I’m often too lazy to move them or alternatively make more pullovers. I am never more annoyed by this than when I’m making a baby garment. I just think that it is annoying to have to give two sets of instructions for the placement of buttonholes. As long as they are close enough to the edge to button up the ‘middle’ and not instead on the sleeve or something weird for a functional garment than what does it matter!

  330. Steph…. while I totally agree that it is annoying for people to point out rightness or wrongness of design, I have some thoughts about your rant I would like to share.
    Firstly, right or wrong, that is the way things have been in the industry… perhaps it is gender dogma or perhaps it’s industry standards that make it easier for some to distinguish designs for ladies or guy or perhaps over time it’s taken on as feminine characterization? Either way since it’s the norm, some people don’t know any better. But, it should be pointed out to them that button holes, like arm straps are a design choice that is all your own when you make something yourself… so : P to anyone who tells you what should go on your sweater.
    Secondly, before you go and tearing these poor women of court a new one for having hand maids, perhaps you should check out some of the atrocities they had to endure. Donโ€™t get me wrong, they were part of the privileged class, but they were also required to wear more outfits, bigger hair, and more make up than rock bands in the 80s. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to have to wear something that could only be put on by others, trust me you aint reaching no buttons by the time they put on the last layer of clothing.
    Third, while you have the right to rant about anything, and you shouldโ€ฆ I was wondering what constructive point this puts out there. Most of your gender rants fall into a discussion about being taken serious as a craft/art or business and are somewhat designed to empower your readers. In this case, as it is with other gendered issues I feel that you are making a case about right/wrong and gendered choices. I worry that if you continue down this road of right/wrong and gender that this is going to be more about gender warfare than equality; because if gender is a right or wrong thing, one of those genders is always wrong.
    In closing (now that this is the longest reply ever). I love knowing the history behind things I am working on (google โ€œsexing la modeโ€). The connection between our hand work and are place in time is extraordinarily rich with history. But I am a practical/utilitarian guy, so damn all that historyโ€ฆ If itโ€™s easier for folks to put buttons on one side or the other based on their dominant hand then shouldnโ€™t that be the design factor in question?

  331. I’m left-handed and have always had trouble distinguishing left from right. When I am driving and someone says “Turn right” I have to think hard about it, usually when someone asks me which way to turn, I point.
    So the button thing? It never made any difference to me and I still don’t get it. How is it easier on one side than the other? I’m so clumsy I have to use both hands anyway!

  332. I prefer my buttons be placed on my garment in their original places rather than their usual locations of the bottom of the washer/dryer, under the heaviest piece of furniture available or in the heat register. As for buttonholes, I am thrilled if they are located across from the buttons, allowing me to button up without looking as though the two-year old dressed me. This may explain the number of pull-overs/jumpers and t-shirts in my wardrobe.

  333. I do remember seeing this in one of your early books, Steph. I haven’t broken out yet except for the baby sweater s. I do all of them with buttonholes on the right, too. I enjoy your ranting. Keep it up!

  334. I have always done the man/left, woman/right thing. And, as a rule I am not much of a conformist. On this issue, just went along with the flow without thinking much about it. When knitting for an expected baby not knowing the gender, I wasn’t particularly sexist; just put them on either side. Interesting discussion though.

  335. I understand just where you’re coming from, and I have devised a clever way to get around the patriarchal tyranny of left-handed buttons on store-bought goods.
    I’m left-handed.
    Perhaps sometime you’d like to hear my rant #82 “Why I can’t use patterns without a chart.” (short version: I knit backwards and can’t follow instructions for righties.)

  336. Haha, I never noticed this before, though I vaguely remember reading about it in other places, so I guess you can count me in the “no strong feelings’ camp. I guess it doesn’t really matter because I manipulate whatever is on my right-hand side…instead of putting the button into the buttonhole, I just put the buttonhole around the button while my left hand holds it still. Or I just wear a pullover. =)

  337. I don’t suppose that my feelings are strong, but I have always thought with a sigh of resignation that the whole buttonhole thing for men vs. women was stupid. And have noticed that clothes made in China do not adhere to the “buttonhole rule”.

  338. I have a hard enough time telling my right from my left to worry about which size my buttons are on. My mother on the other hand always points out when buttons are on the wrong size. The only time I have ever had a problem with something being on the wrong side was when I bought a pair of pants that zipped on the “wrong” side. Is there a zipper side for men and women too?

  339. As long as the button and hole are both doing their respective job, with proper alignment, then who cares?
    For me it’s an under-over thing anyhow, not a left-right (or right-left) as the button makes it through all the same.

  340. It bothers me when I see buttonholes on the “other” side, but I have been sewing for years and I am the way I am. I would never say anything to anyone about it but I notice. Jeans are never zipped with the fly right over left, probably because Levi’s were made for men first. But have you ever zipped a jacket that is the opposite of what you are used? happened to my son the pull on the zipper was on the opposite side, messed with his brain.

  341. I swear we were talking about button hole placements at our guild meeting last week. A bunch of us are making Baby Surprise Jackets and got to debating where to put the button holes when the baby’s sex was unknown. I will print out your rant #27D and bring it to next months class where, I am sure, it will me much appreciated.
    Right handed buttonholes will go on my BSJ tout de suite.
    Thanks for the history and amazing timing of this post!

  342. You know, I wondered about that while I was knitting my sweater. I knew something was different. Good to know. The whole right, left thing drives me a little crazy if i have to think about it too much. As long as all the buttonholes end up on the same side, I’m happy. (Believe me, the way my mind wanders while I knit, screw-ups are always a possibility.)

  343. I might be slow, but I never know, when told to put the buttons on the “right” side if that means the right side as it is facing me or the right side as if I were wearing it. So I just say screw it and do it my own fraking way. As of yet, I have also not upset a new mommy or been mistaken for a man.

  344. Women are right, men are left over.
    I say put the damn button any damn place that you want to button the damned thing.
    I dressed the Moscow Ballet for a performance. They have THEIR buttons alternating – one on the right side, the next one down on the left side, etc. It DOES tend to keep the tutu closed…

  345. Buttons – seems too much a detail to be worrying about what’s right or wrong. Do what’s best for you and zippers are great! I love your attitude – we all dress ourselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

  346. It was pointed out to me by my Dad (needless to say a guy) that putting a zipper in a fly following the boy/girl rule is also counter-intuitive. Any one not left-handed is fighting the placket and backhanding it pulling the slide. Not to mention girls’ zippers in the back or (who thunk up this one?) in the left hand seam. Just a small auxillary rant.

  347. In addition to men’s buttons on the right side for ease of manipulation, the buttonhole placket also laps left over right so that a man might draw his sword from his left hip without getting the handle caught between his shirt fronts (I’m a historic costume geek). These were also the days when EVERYONE was right handed (and if you happened to be a lefty, you were wrong and had to learn to be a righty). Ladies did not carry swords. But in these modern days, Ms. Pearl-McPhee, what if you should have to draw a sword??? I say you’re well prepared.
    That being said, repetition does tend to train you, and my brain does get fried if ever I find myself needing to wear a men’s shirt, and I button up a little slower. But that’s just me personally.

  348. Is it me, or have you gone over the whole buttonhole placement issue already? Maybe they just enjoy pushing your….damn, I went there didn’t I?
    That being said, I really am liking your newest project. Beautiful colour.

  349. Wow. I had no idea buttons and their holes could be so riveting!! I like your thinking, put them where you please.

  350. Funny what you say about women having their buttonholes on the right side because ladies used to be dressed by maids… thus making it easier for those buttoning them up. First of all I do not manipulate the buttons but the buttonholes, so it is easier for me to have it on the right… but if the case is as you said, probably women used to have them on the right side, using their left hands to button up, because they were already doing something else with their right hands!

  351. I like the traditional placement, and am so used to the left side buttons that when I wear a men’s shirt or jeans I feel really clumsy when using the other side. Weird, huh? Love your sweater…

  352. I have also heard two competing theories — that men had to be able to get their right arm under their coats easily to draw their swords, so the openings on men’s wear had to accommodate that, and that since women rode side-saddle, their coats were closed in the way that made it least likely that their garments would be blown open in the wind in revealing ways.
    I am unlikely to ride side-saddle OR engage in sword play OR be dressed by maids, but as a left-hander who owns, apparently, both “girl” and “boy” clothes, I am still capable of dressing myself each day.
    I can never remember which way is “correct” when the time comes and just make buttonholes wherever it suits. Apparently sometimes “wrong” even in published patterns!

  353. I’ve seen this same issue with zipper placement on pants. I took a tailoring class at FIT and had some real issues with zipper placement, so I went to a lab to get some help. The tutor told me the opposite of what my 70 year old little Italian man teacher had in terms of the facing of the zipper flap, so I ignored the tutor and did what my prof said.
    The next class I went up to him and mentioned what the lab tutor had told me. The Prof looked at me and said mildly, “tell him to go to hell.” Imagine this in a thick Italian-turned-New York accent. I was charmed. He explained that the “conventional” idea behind the differing zipper flap placements based on gender was outdated and pointless.
    A crusty guy, a really hard teacher, but I really liked him.

  354. I do have very strong feelings on buttons, thanks for asking. I can’t abide them. They’re slow and cumbersome, unattractive and they have a tendency to fall off. Zippers on the other hand: sleek, efficient, unobtrusive.
    However, if I did like buttons I would be with you all the way! Gender-based button placement – gah!

  355. Sorry, don’t care about button placement; I’m slightly ambidextrous. But I do want to know where you found the missing circs!

  356. I’m a right-handed woman, and I can button and unbutton my clothing much more easily with my left hand than my right– because I grew up having to do it that way! So I find buttons on “the men’s side” annoyingly inconvenient, forcing me to use both hands rather than just the left to get the job done. Of course, if I’m making something for a man or boy, I make sure to set things up on “the men’s side”. . . wouldn’t want to freak them out with a girly sweater.

  357. Ladies clothes had the buttons on the BACK of the garment. Correct? In that case it would make sense to make it convenient for the maid so she could dress the lady faster. And with buttons on the back of a garment it is a challenge to get them buttoned.
    The really important rule for buttons: the buttons should be positioned so that one is level with the largest part of the bust, so the girls are modestly covered.

  358. ha! I’m with you totally on this one. I sew and have always rebelled against the gender buttonhole issue. And while we’re on the subject, why are American women expected to shave their legs and not their arms? ponderous question…oh, wait, WERE we on the subject?? ha again.

  359. Put them where you will. I’m still reeling from the comment about hanging clothes backwards…There is a right way and wrong way?

  360. Yes, ladies’ garments have buttonholes so that you must use your left hand to button, but… since I’ve done that all my life, despite being right handed it really isn’t an issue. My left hand is very used to the movement and performs it smoothly and quickly. (Of course, my right hand knows how to button, too.) But my husband now, he can’t button wih his left hand, having basically buttoned only his own things all his life. Stephanie, if you prefer your buttons on the non-traditional side, go for it, my friend. At least at this house, there are no Button Police!

  361. I have heard of the left vs. right button thing but it has never, ever bothered me. I just checked my jacket to see where its buttons are and it turns out I use both hands to do up my buttons. Can other people do it one handed?

  362. I do know about this rule…oddly, I feel like it would be harder for me to dress myself if the buttons were on the right side. I think I just manipulate the actually button hole over the button (with my right hand) rather than wrangling with the button with my left?

  363. yet another reason why women are so clever…like dancing backwards in high heels…so too…we button up right left and otherwise…and aren’t buttons grand?!

  364. wah! I was just reading about Neil Gaiman and Coraline, and then a quick pop over here…and your post is entitled The Button Thing.
    Took me a few deep breaths to remember that you really are just talking about buttons.

  365. Being left-handed, and the world is bass-ackwards for me MOST of the time, I have no problem with having my buttons on the right-hand side, as it makes MY life easier. I’m about having life be easy, and since knitting is one of the places in life where you can Have It Your Way (sorry Burger King), you should put them where you want to.
    Love the colors in your cardi. I’m so inspired by people who can spin up sweaters’ worth of wool. I’ve only managed about a hat’s worth so far; maybe it’s because I buy small quantities of roving….
    sorry. /end digression.

  366. I’m so ambidextrous that it doesn’t matter – I have a man’s dress coat (second hand shop), assorted other outer garments, and we used to use boys blue jeans which zipped the other way.
    I try to avoid buttonholes – I like loops instead. Threads did a great article on that zillions of years ago.

  367. It really doesn’t seem to matter. But I like your solution for the babies as I always seem to get them on the “wrong” side. Mine just seem to end up where they end up and no one has said a word.

  368. “Doryphore. That’s the word. from the OED: ‘One who draws attention to the minor errors made by others, esp. in a pestering manner; a pedantic gadfly.'”
    So, am I being a pedantic gadfly to point out there is no such word in the OED?
    As a neologism, it’s fabulous, but…
    Why, yes, I am a huge geek. What’s your point?

  369. Actually the comment I was going to make yesterday was can you share how you make such tight, nice looking buttonholes. Mine never seem to come out as straight and clean looking. Where they are is up to you.

  370. I always get thrown for a loop when the buttons are on the traditional “lady” side. It seems today mostly all buttons are on the same side, whether they are for men or women. I see nothing wrong with it at all. We all dress ourselves for the most part, so why should women have the “fun” of struggling with oddly placed buttons?

  371. I’m so ambidextrous that I really don’t notice things like what side my buttonholes are on. In fact, I learned long ago to give driving directions by compass point because I almost always confuse right and left. I say go with what works for you.

  372. I use two hands to do buttons up, so does it really matter?
    I’ve never had a parent complain about baby items having buttons on the wrong side either.

  373. I have the same strong button convictions and believe it or not my handknits have been subject to ridicule as a result.

  374. I was informed that women’s (girls) buttonholes are on the right because “women are always right”

  375. lol At last I am not the only one – I usually get so carried away when knitting up a pattern that I end up knitting right over where the button holes should be and have to put them then on the other side. Or more times than not, I just like how they look. It’s pretty much like the watch issue isn’t it? men are supposed to wear theirs on the left and women on the right but I always wear mine on the left. Just to be awkward I expect or because I like marching to my own drum.

  376. If I had noticed the buttons, I would have just thought the picture was flipped in posting.
    I don’t have any opinion on what side the buttons are on – I think I usually prefer the “men’s” side.
    I agree that all babies’ clothes should have the buttons convenient for the dressers, as the dressees are not going to be buttoning themselves.
    And why do you think women’s clothes don’t have as many useful pockets as men’s clothes? I always find that frustrating.

  377. As a lefty, I keep to the traditional buttonhole placement for women and have difficulty buttoning “male” buttons. I guess in a former life as a lady’s maid I was screwed.

  378. I say put them wherever the heck you want.
    I’ll probably put them on the “woman’s” side because, as I discover every time I borrow my husband’s cardigan because I’m cold, my hands understand buttons in terms of their own muscle memory. So, they are conditioned to fasten buttons backwards, the “woman’s” way. That means it’s actually *harder* for me to do “men’s” buttons than “women’s”. But that’s just me! Do what makes YOU happy!

  379. I never noticed it if was more convent either way. I just normally do them whenever I remember. Sometimes I remember at the beginning of the row, sometimes I remember at the end.

  380. Don’t ask me about where I put my buttonholes, or I’ll show you where I’ll put the buttons! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  381. Time for a GEEK-DOWN!
    The maid likely had no buttons of her own (at least initially, in the dim and murky dawn of button history) because the convention of placing ladies’ buttons that way dates back to a time when it was a Big Deal to have buttons at all, and mostly it was the wealthy who had proper buttons, and thus, maids to button their dresses. The maids fastened their own clothing with belts and simple ties or toggles.
    After proper buttons became available for the peasantry as well, button placement was established, and was entrenched by the Victorians, who rejoiced not only in long rows of gender-specific buttons (even on shoes) but also in forming firm and arbitrary distinctions between man-things and woman-things, including their gleeful use of French-inspired man-titles and woman-titles, with the resulting flurry of “esses” and “-ettes” and “-ixes” for every conceivable pastime or occupation.
    Me? My default is to place buttons as you do. Also, to me it makes sense to place the buttons for the ease of the wearer if they are right- or left-handed. But placing them by sex makes no sense at all.
    Babies need to be buttoned for the ease of the buttoner, and I recommend therapy for sexually insecure parents who think their baby boy will have a sexual identity crisis if his wee little buttons go the girl way. Really, honestly, and truly — I’ve never seen a baby turning tricks in a gay bar. Have you?
    Other guy-versus-gal clothing issues: why do men get all the useful-sized belt loops, useful-sized pockets, and wide-enough shoes? And do not even start me on the absurdities of spike-heeled shoes, frothy lingerie and non-theatrical makeup.
    The revolution will be televised.

  382. I did know about the history of the buttonhole placings… as far as I’m concerned, that’s our history. We can’t change it, so there’s no point getting outraged about it now!
    No point getting upset about whether your buttons are the ‘right’ way or not, either. Do them however works for you ๐Ÿ™‚
    For myself, like some other commenters I’m a lefty so I’m quite happy to have girly buttons on my clothes… I find boy buttons strange and difficult!

  383. I like the comment that someone made, that as long as the button holes are on the side opposite the buttons, all is good. I, personally, am so used to the buttons being on whatever side they’ve been on all my life, that I find it awkward when I wear one of my husband’s shirts and the buttons are on the “wrong” side. Another button story – my husband had a shirt once that came from a reputable catalog retailer, that had the buttons and holes reversed on the sleeves. But it was a flannel shirt and he often doesn’t bother with the cuff buttons, so we didn’t make a stink!

  384. Yay for feminist rants! Next time, just tell them it’s so you can get to your concealed weapon easier: Like MzViki said above, I always heard that a man’s shirt opened left over right so he could draw the sword with his right hand. I also heard that women’s first button-down garments were often riding habits, and as she rode side-saddle with her right knee over the saddle-horn, the slight leftward tilt to her body would cause the shirt to flap open in the wind. I like the images of swords and horses better than indentured servitude… but sexist, classist, and handed-ness-ist (heh?) none the less! Rant-On!

  385. As long as they stay buttoned when necessary and are fastened on well enough not to pop off on the first or second wearing, I do not give a rip rap on which side they are sewn.
    I shopped the boys depts. for years for flannel shirts and so forth. Colours were always as nice and much less $$$ for virtually the same shirt purchased in the womens section. But that a rant for another day….

  386. I’m still trying to figure out which left and right you mean, the wearer’s or the observer. I’m clueless, I’m not a sweater knitter yet.
    But I like the way you think!!! Makes sense.

  387. I like men’s shirts…and the way they are buttoned. I am even left-handed and still like that way ….and I don’t know which way that is called, since I don’t know if you are in the item or outside of the item when considering left or right handedness.
    This could get into a downright philosophical dissertation, enabled with the drinking of a Canadian (one of my faves).

  388. Wish they could make a silent velcro. Your blog is cheering me up so much these days. Thank you.

  389. I agree 100% with you… I have a broken left arm right now (and no maid) so right-handed buttons are wonderful.
    Elastic is even better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  390. Well Stephanie, I admire you if you can get through over 400 responses but here lies the truth as I was told. Men have button holes on the left because originally men’s pants were buttoned up or flapped over with the left side over the top of the right side. Of course when they needed to point Percy at the pocelain (to put it delicately) men usually use the right hand. It’s far easier to extricate the subject matter from a left opening flap. If the flap was right opening, it would apparently be more challenging and could cause an embarrasing delay! This was the explanation given to me by my mother, in days of old, and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of this. Think about it! Of course there are left handed men, but you know in days of old left-handedness (caggy handed we used to call it, but I don’t know what caggy means) was something that the powers-that-be discouraged and even tried to correct!!!!!!
    Janet MF

  391. Oh lord, I always HATED righthand (“ladies”) button placement. Hated it! Used to wear only men’s shirts and jackets for that reason (and ’cause they’re just cooler). Gargh.

  392. Oh Stephanie
    yesterday I wrote that I was “a little smug” that you had had to frog your FLS. It was only meant in a light hearted manner, to show how envious of your knitting prowess, not because I wish your project any harm- I’m sure you realised.
    However, later that day I realised that my comments will have certainly alerted the knitting fates to my own slow growing, but as yet, un-frogged project. I have been working slowly with stitch markers every 21 stitches or so, so that I can pick up mistakes quickly and I have been trying to be so meticulous (I know that if I frog it will be a very big deal indeed for me to pick up those stictches the right way). But I realise that I might as well unpick the whole thing and start again – so inevitable is the retribution I will have brought upon my own head!
    I have decided that the only action that has any (limited) chance of averting the wrath of the knitting fates is a swift, unreserved and grovelling apology for my mean spirited remarks yesterday.
    I regret what I said and wish your FLS every success!
    PS I am so enjoying knitting mine – I keep pointing out to my family that I won’t have to sew it together at the end – horay!
    Cheers Jane

  393. I knew there was a rule, but couldn’t ever be bothered to look it up when placing the first buttonhole. Sometimes I will check the thing I am wearing and copy it, if I happen to be wearing something with buttons. Now that you’ve given me an explanation, I may remember the “right” way, but I don’t think it will make me care more.

  394. Wow, who knew the button debate would blow up your blog?!
    I suppose I don’t care what side it is on. I have known of the disparity for some time. But I would have to say when I have worn men’s button up shirts it really throws me off to have the buttons on the other side, though I am right handed. I suppose it is a learned ambidextrous skill? I’m just glad my highly uncoordinated son won’t have to learn this backward button trick, lest he be banished to the land of t-shirts his whole life.

  395. I was always told that men’s buttons were that way round so when they drew their sword they wouldn’t cut the buttons off! That’s also why we mount horses on the right hand side so you don’t sit on your sword. Wonder how many men did so before they worked it out!

  396. Honestly, I’m so used to the buttonholes being on the right that the few times I’ve done things like wearing a “men’s” shirt it’s messed me up. So I put my buttonholes on the right when I knit things for myself, because there are enough opportunities for frustration elsewhere in the world.

  397. I have heard the opposite — that women’s buttonholes are on the side they are because it’s the most convenient (because we were dressing ourselves), and men’s were on the less convenient side because they were being dressed by someone else.
    Back when I was daily dressing both my young sons and my young daughters, I never even noticed they were different!

  398. The rules are not nearly as logical as you suggest. In the 18th C, a stylish man’s coat was cut so that the man could NOT get it on by himself. I know…I’ve copied them, and my DH has TWO colonial coats that fit him _great_ and I MUST help him into, just as he (or, preferably, my teenaged daughter) must help me into my correctly-fitted gown!
    And it’s far easier for the man’s dresser to button his coat, since it must be settled properly, along with the neck cloth, and that requires the dresser to do up the buttons.
    So, I maintain…put the buttons where you want…there is NO SENSE WHATSOEVER to the “rules” that we’ve come to know and hate ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Put the buttonholes on a baby’s sweater on the left, if mom is a lefty ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Oh, one last thing…you occasionally find period garments with buttonholes on the “wrong” side for both men and women, I’ve been told, but haven’t seen them myself.

  399. Go ahead and do what works best for you! Can’t wait to see your finished sweater. I may even try this sweater for myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

  400. You know, I was thinking about this just this week as I finished up my very first Baby Surprise Jacket. It’s for a girl, and I went into my closet to find out what side the buttons are supposed to be on for a woman. Not because I needed the sweater to conform to patriarchal/antifeminist clothing, but because I knew the history of buttons and buttonholes, and wanted to make them “correct-handed” for the Mom and Dad so it would be easier for them to button up baby.
    My next baby sweater is for a Sex Unknown baby, and I’ve been paralyzed by the possibility that it will be a boy. What will I do then? Make it easily buttoned by the parents, using the girl-button fashion? Or put the buttons on the self-buttoning boy side? The dad in this case is a lefty, so maybe it really doesn’t matter!
    Also, I am probably the only person in the world who finds pullovers impractical for infants. It just seems to me that with babies, it’s sooo much easier to just make stuff you don’t have to yank over their heads!

  401. I usually try to refrain from telling people “ur knittin it wrong” since I knit backwards, left-handed, and modified combined, but one thing that is hard for me to ignore is unintentionally twisted stitches. I was twisting my knits in stockinette (but not purls) for the first six months I knit, and now always feel the need to correct other people when I see them do it. Sometimes it hurts their feelings (and I feel like an ass for having said something), but often it helps them make the leap from being a “good” knitter to being a “great” knitter. But I’m still torn, and wonder whether I should stop trying to be a mother hen and just focus on my own knitting and let other people be “great” knitters however they want to be. Just curious, do you have a policy for that sort of thing?
    (PS – I so rarely ever post here, but if it’s not too late, I wanted to say that I really enjoyed seeing you speak in Santa Rosa back in October. Knit on!)

  402. In my secret heart of hearts, I suspect no one really *knows* why buttons are where they are. Like most things to do with clothes, it became the fashion at some point. For myself, I really don’t care what side they’re on. I don’t find them particularly difficult to do up from either direction. ๐Ÿ™‚

  403. No strong feelings about buttonholes. But boy o boy – I do that 2″ thing all the time! I keep going thinking 1) it ain’t so bad 2) no one but me will know it’s there or 3) it’s my Amish thing, left in on purpose as proof only God is perfect. (yeah I know your feelings about God, but it’s my comment – just (just?!) your blog.)
    And then I end up ripping down to the problem anyway.

  404. Thanks for solving a mystery I have always wondered about…why the buttonholes are on right vs. left ( male vs. female). It is so great not to wonder anymore and have the freedom to put buttonholes wherever one wishes.

  405. I would love to share this with my friend’s on facebook. Have you considered adding a share button on you blog? I have one from add this dot com it is free.

  406. I don’t care. I’ve only made a couple cardigans so I just follow the destructions (yeah, destructions) for buttonhole placement.

  407. you’re blog lightens my day and gives me plenty to think about!! rant on!!
    I never ride sidesaddle, but was adamant about not wearing white after Labor Day…until we happily got into denim (with or without diamonds) all year long. Oh, happy day! Now if I could just keep my tutu from falling off ;-)))
    I vote for the pockets for women rant…as soon as the caffeine kicks in.

  408. How about the time I made a cardigan for my 4yo daughter, and did the buttons up …. one side (can’t even remember which, it *might* have been the right) and then, when I came to doing the neck edge, managed to *forget* to put the buttonhole in until it was a bit too late … so I put it on the other side. Sewed a decorative button on the outside of the collar, sewed a functional button on the *inside* of where I put the decorative button, so the whole thing buttons up, if in a trifle unorthodox manner.
    So long as it buttons, it’s right.

  409. I love your thoughtfulness regarding buttonholes for babies, and I love the history. I would have been the left handed maid, but I’m not fussy about the buttons so long as they match (roughly) the location of the buttonholes.

  410. I had no idea about that social explanation. I will now do them anyway I want them and be prepared to rebut rude critical people, except that no one seems to notice, anyway.

  411. I read somewhere (back in the dim and distant past) that the difference in button placement came about during the Regency period, when men fought duels with swords and wore very tight jackets. The jackets were too tight to fight in properly, but when tempers were flaring and swords were being drawn wasn’t the time to say “hold on a moment, dear chap, would you mind waiting while I loosen my jacket?”, so buttons were placed differently for men so they could undo the jacket while they were drawing their swords and negotiating the first few thrusts and parries of a duel………………
    Of course, that could be complete rubbish and I might be recounting something which I believe as fact which is, in reality, fiction – but that’s why I thought buttons were placed differently for men!

  412. Hmmm… I have no strong feelings regarding buttonhole placement, although I agree with everything you ranted. I put my buttonholes in the traditional place despite that, though, because after years of wearing button-down shirts I’m so used to manipulating buttons with my left hand that it’s actually harder for me to do it with my right. So I’m still putting them where it’s easier for me… can I still be a feminist?

  413. Ha, the left-handed people, always neglected or despised by History and those who make it…. I don’t care for where my buttons are, (except that the traditional way has its own charm, because of this stupidly sensitive-pretending history) because as almost all left-handed people, this world entirely made to ease the right-handed people’s life has made me ambidextrous ! So there ! ;o)

  414. I can never remember which is the “correct” side for buttonholes. I always have to go and look at a shirt. Now maybe I’ll just put them wherever I want. I don’t think I’d notice if someone had them on the “wrong” side.

  415. I place my buttons/buttonholes the “men’s” way. I think it’s easier and I guess I never considered there was a differnt way. I don’t care what society says, I’m going to do what I like anyways…

  416. I knew about the ladies maid doing the buttoning thing, but I keep ’em on the right anyway — I’m a southpaw.
    Nuff said.

  417. The only time it occurred to me was after I made a cardigan for my boyfriend and he went to button it up. “The buttons are on the wrong side,” he said. Doh! I must have put them on the ‘girl’ side.

  418. That’s funny! Me, I don’t care about button placement.
    Boobs, hips, and a lack of an adam’s apple give me away as a woman. If someone can’t tell, I don’t care anyway.
    There are people always wanting to tell others how they should do things, huh?

  419. I’m in the don’t-care camp. Partly because I never remember what way they’re ‘supposed’ to go, partly because I wear a lot of men’s clothes, and partly that I’m ambidextrous enough to not really notice. I’m definitely right-handed, but have enough left-side dexterity that for some things I use either hand interchangeably- eating or pouring water from a kettle, for example. And I can write left-handed, albeit more slowly. I knit continental (unless I’m doing colorwork using both hands).

  420. I like them on the “girl” side, but only because I’m left-handed, so it’s actually more comfortable for me.

  421. We found a man’s windbreaker in a men’s clothing only chain store with the buttons on the “wrong” side for a man. My husband is a hard to fit 2XL short (my mother-in-law used to call herself fat petite). He has fine (very picky) taste in both fabric and colour. Once when I was thrilled to find a pair of brown lightweight wool pants in his size, just what we’d been looking for, he refused to buy them because they were a “dead” brown. Anyway, he refused to buy this well-fitting windbreaker in a fabric with a nice finish and the perfect tan colour because the buttonholes were wrong. Is some company doing payback on men’s buttonholes?

  422. First, a note of thank you for your history lesson. I learned something new today!
    Second, my preference is to have my buttons on the left side (when I am wearing the garment). It is what comes naturally when I tie my buttons.
    As a Mom, it was easier for me if they were on the right side when I was dressing my babies/toddlers.
    I may be a little odd… I am mostly right handed but for hockey and golf, I am left handed. For holding utensils for eating, I am comfortable with either hand.

  423. It’s like setting a table. I can never remember which side the knife goes on because I learned to set a table in the UK but it’s opposite in the US. Buttons are the same. I do them on the side where I remember to put them. If anyone says anything, do what my mother said to do if anyone said anything about my not perfectly shaved legs. “Honey, if they get that close, slap ’em!”

  424. I must be exceptionally uncoordinated, because I need both hands for buttoning something, and therefore do not care which item is handled by which hand. But I really subscribe to the idea that every maker of garments can put the buttonholes wherever they want to have them (opposite the buttons being helpful).

  425. While I do know that there is a distinction about buttons – I never really have thought about it. I usually just follow whatever the pattern says because I’m not concerned enough about it to care and I’m usually making a sweater for a baby or a child anyway. The way I figure, they’re still buttons – they work the same regardless.

  426. Since I’m ambidextrous, it makes no matter to me in the least. However, I have to admit to some confusion when it comes to wearing jeans vs “women’s” pants/slacks. I know the “reason” but never understood it.
    If all we have to worry about is button placement on clothes, what a wonderful world we live in!

  427. Oh the occasional benefits of being left handed ๐Ÿ™‚
    And I must agree w/ other Dianna’s reasoning – if anyone gets that close you totally have the right to slap them. Or as my mom says – they deserve to find the error.

  428. I tend to obey the traditions because I was raised by a costume designer.
    She taught me in terms of what side of the garment gets to be on top: “Women are always RIGHT and men are LEFT OVER.” I still say it to myself whenever I’m putting buttons on something.

  429. Thank you for the history lesson! Personally, I can never remember which side the button holes are “supposed” to be on anyway. I probably still won’t remember. Being left handed, I guess I should prefer them on the traditional ladies’ side, however, as a lot of lefties are, I am somewhat ambidexterous having had to get by in a right handed world. I, too, am prone to rants, and sometimes get going on that one…… “Handedism.”

  430. I like to alternate the placement of my buttons. One on the left, one on the right, one on the left. And I like to make sure I have ODD numbers of buttons on my garments…
    Call me strange! :O)

  431. A King Solomon like solution to the buttonhole wars:
    My mother-in-law, who was a prolific and talented knitter from England, showed me how to put buttonholes on both sides – then you choose a side when you are sewing on the buttons and just sew the buttons on top of the buttonholes on one side which, if you have done your counting right, should line up perfectly with the buttonholes on the other side.
    Love your blog!

  432. I personally like having my buttonholes on the right. Every time I do up buttons it reminds me of long ago times. Which is really quite cheesy, but hey, if I didn’t like them so much my closet wouldn’t half full of things that no one has worn in public for centuries right?

  433. Seven years of piano lessons + 30-odd years of knitting + years of borrowing men’s flannel shirts — leads to not really noticing which side the buttons are on. If I were more right-hand or left-hand dominant, I’d probably pay more attention. As long as I get the right buttons through the right holes (sometimes a challenge in the absence of caffiene), I consider the job a success.
    At this point, I’d probably have to go online and check if anyone asked me which side women’s buttons are “supposed” to be on.

  434. I feel the same way about buttonholes as I do about “boy” and “girl” bicycles — we don’t wear full skirts when riding anymore, and really, it just makes more sense for boys to have the dipping crossbar. My 220lb hub was relieved to hear my rant, and recently purchased a “girl” bike because it was what he wanted (no pink or streamers involved, but that’s a different rant for a different day.)
    Huzzah to you. Not that you have to defend your choices to us.
    PS – I’m happy to know I completed my FLS before you completed yours. Even tho I started 2 weeks before you, you knit like a maniac, and it would have just been depressing if you surpassed me. Now all I have to do is find BUTTONS. ๐Ÿ™‚

  435. I’ve always worried about the correct placement of buttons. I’m not going to anymore; I like your method. I’ve been able to figure out why it mattered anyway.

  436. Gaah, the button thing is so lame and Nineteenth-Century! I say you put them wherever you want. I suppose left-handed people might want to put the buttons on the left.

  437. I read somewhere that the buttonhole distinction has been known to serve a semi-useful purpose: the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) was at one time permitted to go after nonunion manufacture of women’s, but not men’s, clothing, and require that people making such clothing join the union and/or abide by union rules; the ILGWU could tell by the button/buttonhole placement if suspect garments were intended for women or men.
    About 30 years ago, as best I recall, this led to a semi-ridiculous episode wherein a bunch of women in Maine earning some much-needed money by using knitting machines to produce garments in their homes were discovered by the ILGWU and required to cease and desist, home work being illegal under US labor law (so that bosses couldn’t browbeat employees into working at home under the radar for lower/nonexistent wages). Generally I think unions are a good thing, but it seems to me that there ought to be some exception for people who are doing this on their own hook to make their own money.
    I have no idea (and am too lazy to look up) if the ILGWU is even still in existence, and if so how much clout it has — not much, it would seem, given globalization and sweatshops and Chinese women making clothes in remote villages for 3 cents a week, etc., etc., but it’s an interesting sidelight to the whole button thing.
    There are probably interesting historical reasons for the existence of an ILGWU but not afaik of an IMGWU, and maybe one day I’ll try to discover what they are.

  438. Personally, I feel that if button placement makes that much of a difference in my ability to get dressed, I have far bigger problems.

  439. I just noticed that my pants buttons and my jacket buttons are on different sides. Which made me wonder–did I wear my husband’s pants or sweater by accident today? Good news, I don’t think I did. Or at least, I’m sure that he doesn’t own a delicately cabled red sweater. Still not sure about the navy pants.

  440. Who the heck has the energy to get worked up about where another person prefers their buttons?
    That said, I am not convinced about the theory that button position came about because women were dressed by maids. Yes, some fashionable women were, and yes, the ‘lower orders’ tended to follow the fashions of ‘their betters’ – but then, many upper class men would have had a valet, so why don’t men’s clothes button the other way too?
    Apart from that, is it really so tough to do those buttons up when they’re on the left and the holes are on the right? Like somebody else said, don’t you use both hands to do buttons?

  441. I still a pretty novice knitter- socks, hats and scarves until recently. The only sweater I’ve made to date was for my grandson. He’s wearing it now (oh the joy of getting something to fit a 2 year old- the first time!). The directions suggested that I put the button holes on BOTH sides of the sweater, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about which side I wanted them, until I was done, and then I could easily tell where to sew the buttons on. Everything worked perfectly, and unless I make some fabulous designer buttonholes, I think I’ll do that from now on. Less to think about, and less chance of frogging.

  442. I’ve gotta say that I have never been able to remember where my buttonholes go – or rather where they’re supposed to go, so generally mine end up when I suddenly remember- shoot! I haven’t started my buttonholes yet! Well- I’d better start them now or it’s going to end up being a zippered cardigan. (which really means that it will be the cardigan that I’ll never finish sitting at the bottom of my yarn stash as the ufo that I’m ashamed to show to even my closest knitting acquaintances, but really- who wants to sew in a zipper?)

  443. Late to the party here, but … as a left-hander, I’m rather fond of the traditional position of women’s buttons.

  444. The only real button issue I have is the same as a previous commenter – men’s button-fly jeans are TEH PITS when there’s a man in them and you want him out of them. The buttons are all wrong. Nuff said ๐Ÿ˜‰ When I’ve done buttons I’ve gone and looked at stuff in my wardrobe to put the buttons correctly, mainly because my mum would laugh her ass off if they were on the the “wrong” side. As I used to wear men’s shirts a lot (more comfy) I don’t actually have a preference for button placement. I never know when they say “right” or “left” whether they mean “as if you were wearing it” or “as you look at it” – hence the wardrobe flyby…

  445. I am dyslexic so the button end up on what ever side they happen to end up on. However I have done some costuming and for Kimonos it is very important to get it right. All kimonos fold like mens buttoning (ok don’t ask me to do the right left thing) If you wear them the other way the you are indicating you are a corpse, very socially upsetting.

  446. I always thought the whole reverse buttonhole thingy was just another way for guys to easily get into my clothing. (Or, at least that’s what my mother told me at ago 13 when my breasts started to grow, and as a reason to wear turtlenecks).

  447. Hey, thanks! I get a crazy number of emails saying “DID YOU KNOW YOU PUT THE BUTTONHOLES ON THE *WRONG* SIDE?? YOU MADE A *MAN’S* SWEATER!!” From now on, instead of trying to explain, I’m linking those people straight here. Maybe if the Harlot says it, they’ll believe it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    xo, P

  448. A wise old owl once told me to make the button holes on both sides and to sew the buttons right over the holes on one of the sides. It is then easy to put the buttons right where they belong, and for baby sweaters, they can be switched if one is so inclined.

  449. You have gotten me on your bandwagon, and now I’m similarly steamed about the zips on pants. Yesterday I had the “privilege” of dressing in women’s dress trousers, with a fly that opened on my left, and then trying to wrestle a squirming toddler into HIS pants, which zipped on his right (also my left). By the time we got into the car, I had broken two fingernails and vowed that if we continued this stupid gendered clothing system I would be purchasing only men’s pants for myself and girls’ pants for my son until he can zip himself up. Your post was well-timed.

  450. I knew the history and still can never remember which is the ‘right’ side, so I just put them on whichever side I’m at when starting buttonholes and convention be damned

  451. Actually I did already know this history. If someone would like to provide me with a maid to button my clothing, do my dishes, or shovel out the barn, I would be happy to have her.
    I have some work shirts which are “men’s shirts” with the reverse buttons. It takes me twice as long to button them because I am used to 98% of my garments being the other way around. I prefer my buttons on the left with the buttonhole on the right since I am right handed. You don’t manipulate the button, you hold the button stationary and slip the buttonhole over it. I do the same with the men’s shirts, I am just bad at it left-handed.

  452. As a guy, I’m all for buttons/zippers being the same on all clothing – if I borrow a woman’s jacket, I’d like to be able to button it up.
    Incidentally, I just found out that it’s the opposite on Korean clothing, which led me to find this blog.

  453. 2 inches, ha. I usually go for 1/2 to 1 sweater’s worth before I finally listen to the voice whispering or screaming inside, and acknowledge that a huge mistake has been made.
    I have no strong feelings about buttonholes, mostly because I have no strong sense of which is left and right. I constantly try to turn faucets on the wrong way. This is a burden I can bear, in the face of all that’s good in my life.
    -Jennie, gazing out on lovely white clouds in a clear blue sky. “California is the place you oughta be!”

  454. I’m so glad you’ve decided to defy convention in this matter. When I’ve been knitting things for boys and girls, I’m checking and double checking that I have the button holes on the correct side because I have this fear that I will be publicly flogged for getting this wrong!

  455. I don’t have strong feelings about buttonholes, because damned if I can remember which side they’re “supposed” to go on.
    However, I do have similarly strong feelings about the difference in bike frames between “women’s” and “men’s” bicycles.
    The top bar is for stability and strength, and according to engineering principles it should go at the top of the bike, roughly parallel to the ground. On a “women’s” bike, of course, it doesn’t do that. This is so that the bike can be ridden with modesty. For as we all know, women wear lots of skirts and petticoats and whatnot.
    Personally, I counteract this idiocy by always buying a men’s bike. (Or rather, a bike intended for pre-teen boys, since I have very short legs.)

  456. As a left-hander, I’ve always been really grateful for the way shop-bought women’s clothing does up… Unlike, say, the clasps on bracelets, which only ever work properly if you’re right-handed, or the controls on digital cameras… But totally agreed that if you’re making something yourself, you can decide how you want it to fasten!

  457. I propose that the next time someone says something about button holes to you, you should cheerfully remove all the buttons on their cardi and put them on the inside of the sweater. So that it buttons on the INSIDE… See if that makes them happier!
    All hail completely wrong buttons!

  458. Well, I knew the history bit, but as I’ve been fastening all my clothes with the buttonholes on the right for quite some time, and I recently borrowed a shirt of my husband’s, I discovered that I prefer the “women” button/hole position. Fastening my husband’s shirt felt like brushing my teeth with my left hand – wrong. But that’s just because for the past (mumble) years of my life, I’ve been buttoning my clothes with the holes on the right and the buttons on the left.

  459. Wow. I learned something new, and what you just said makes a whole lot of sense to me. I’ve often wondered why there were different sides for men and women and was just too lazy to go look. I will from now on follow your lead and place the buttons where it makes the most sense. You are, once again, changing the world, one knitter at a time ๐Ÿ˜‰

  460. Hunh. Someone cares ‘eh? My friend’s son is autistic and is quite simply terrified of buttons on the whole…makes knitting for him so much easier. Forget the buttons – use velcro. That’ll teach ’em.

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