Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Toss Me! (DIY Garter Tutorial)

As I alluded to in my last post, I decided to DIY my garter that will be used for the garter toss. Yes, we will be doing the bouquet and garter toss, another tradition that we decided to include, because....well, we have lots of unmarried friends, and it's fun! The tosses have been done at almost every wedding I've attended, so I thought we might as well do it too.

So on our wedding day I will be wearing my old blue garter as my something blue, and this new one which will be tossed. And for about $10 of materials from the fabric store (purchased during a sale, yay!), I'd say this DIY garter turned out pretty well!

Following is my little tutorial on the steps I did to make this garter. I know there have been several tutorials, such as the ones by Miss Cheeseburger, Miss Poodle, and Mrs. Peach, however they were all a bit different, so I thought I'd chime in with my two cents. I tend to use the "fake it until you make it" approach to sewing, but who knows, maybe this will help someone out!

I started out by gathering my supplies, several types of lace, elas
tic, pins, thread, etc (photographed on top of my sweet new purple laptop!):

I really wanted a soft, romantic, frothy, lacy, vintagey feel to my garter, so I opted to use several layers of different lace, as well as a shear layer for under the lace, all in an antique cream color. I was envisioning sort of like a victorian lacy tutu, if that describes it any better! Kind of along the lines of the garters Miss Scissors drooled over, but I'd already finished Photoshopping the mock up of my garter by the time she posted them, or I might have been tempted just to buy one of those!

I started by just wrapping the elastic around my thigh about mid way
up, stretched it to a comfy tightness, and pinned it with a little overlap. I then used a pencil to mark where the overlaps were, so I could see where to sew it after unpinning it later. As a side note, the elastic I ended up getting actually wasn't very stretchy. I would get a different brand if I were to ever make another garter. I then cut the lace about 5-6 inches longer than the elastic (with more stretchy elastic, you might want to cut it even longer).

Then I pinned the layers of lace and shear material together at the top, with the lace falling in three layers, and the shear layer underneath for volume and a little more color like so:

Next it was time for the fake it/wing it part, the gathering! Normally I would have done a project like this on my sewing machine (and it probably would have only taken a half hour on the machine), but I needed something to occupy my time while watching TV or babysitting the laser cutter while it cut our invitations, so I decided to go the much slower hand sewing route.

On the sewing machine, a gathering stitch would have taken care of this much quicker, but by hand I instead started by folding the elastic and lace in half, pinning it at the halfway point, and then pinning the ends of the elastic and lace together as well. Then, I held the pinned elastic and lace at the end and at the half way point, stretching it as far as it would go and pinning it at th
e half way point between those two points (the quarter point of the whole garter). In the first picture below you can see the ends, quarter, half and 3/4ths points pinned. I continued stretching the half way points between pins and pinning those all around the elastic and lace, until I had increasingly smaller sections, eventually ending up with the gathered pleats you see in the second picture below.

Then came the long process of hand sewing the elastic and lace together. It wasn't hard, just time consuming, and I again wished I'd just do
ne this on my sewing machine and gotten it done in minutes. I'm not the neatest hand sewer either, which you can see in the second picture below, but I don't think whichever guy who catches this garter will care about the stitching on the inside!

After the elastic and lace were connected, it was time to add the border lace with pearls. I pretty much repeated the process of stretching and pinning with this pearl border, but made sure to concentrate the larger pleats on the backside of the garter, to keep the front more clean. And once that was sewn, I re-tried on the garter, to make sure the overlap marks I'd made were still an accurate fit (they were), and sewed the ends together at the overlap. Prior to d
oing that, I ran a lighter flame on the edge of the lace, to make sure it wouldn't fray. I also made sure to sew the overlap so that the top layer was facing toward the back of the garter, which also makes things look cleaner.

Then I cut a pearl strand off the leftover lace border, and tied it with thread into a bow (you can't actually tie it in a bow very well), and then sewed that and a lavender ribbon bow onto the front of the garter like so:

This garter could have very well been done at this point, but if you all know anything about me by now, it's that I always have to go just one step further, to take my DIY projects to the next level. So I went ahead and added this pretty cameo button, to complete the "victorian lacy tutu" look I was going for.

And THEN it was done! :)

Will you be doing the garter toss at your wedding? And if so, will you be taking a stab at DIY'ing your garter?

(all pictures in this post are personal photos)


  1. Oh my goodness, this looks nicer than my real garter (which I'm going to keep for myself as we are not doing the garter toss). You never cease to amaze me with your talent. You could open at etsy shop!!!

  2. Pretty! That looks great! I love it!

  3. Wow, it looks stunning! You did a fantastic job! No DIY garter for me. I already bought a cute themed garter from Garters by Kristi.

  4. Thats beautiful! No DIY for me either. This is something I will be purchasing.

  5. there anything that you can *NOT* do? You should have a tv show a la Martha Stewart :)