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 nicely!

The following is my little tutorial on the steps I took 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, elastic, pins, thread, etc. (photographed on top of my sweet new purple laptop!):

I really wanted a soft, romantic, frothy, lacy, vintage-y feel to my garter, so I opted to use several layers of different lace, as well as a sheer layer for under the lace, all in an antique cream color. I was envisioning sort of like a Victorian lacy tutu, 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 sheer 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 instead, by hand I 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 ends and at the half way point, stretching it as far as it would go and pinning it at the 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 done 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 whoever 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 cleaner. And once that was sewn, I retried 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 doing 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 DIYing your garter?

(all pictures in this post are personal photos)


Mrs. Cola

Mountain View, CA
Wedding Date:
June 2010
Fodor's Caribbean Giveaway
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  1. Member
    amariem25 3753 posts, Honey bee @ 12:31 pm

    wow that turned out great. Seems like a lot of work though!

  2. locket Member
    locket 2821 posts, Sugar bee @ 12:32 pm

    fabulous!! I am planning on DIYing my own garter because I can’t see paying so much for something I can easily do myself! Yours turned out great!

  3. Member
    AzinAugust 1651 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:34 pm

    Beautiful love this simple DIY guide! :o)

  4. Member
    krissycake 4160 posts, Honey bee @ 12:40 pm

    you did great! love how it turned out =)

  5. Member
    tea 2414 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:59 pm

    wow this looks great!

  6. Member
    Goldilocks1107 2684 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:04 pm

    Cute! We’re doing the garter toss (reluctantly on my part, exuberantly on his). But I bought mine because really, I’m just too lazy to craft something like this :-)

  7. Member
    Pedsgirl06 67 posts, Worker bee @ 1:12 pm

    I love the cameo! Where did you get it? Beautiful result – and thanks for the tutorial!

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Christy, Guest @ 1:13 pm

    You had me at hello! Well, you had me at the cameo :) I just have to blog about your project, it is beautiful and a DIY that you can actually DIY! Love, love, love it! Kudos

  9. Member
    dddd89 497 posts, Helper bee @ 1:16 pm

    Pretty!!!! Too nice to toss!!!!!

  10. misspug Member
    misspug 3668 posts, Sugar bee @ 2:06 pm

    so pretty! i love that you made this–it’s amazing!

  11. cola Member
    cola 2827 posts, Sugar bee @ 2:09 pm

    So glad you all like my garter! This has been one of my favorite projects so far…a nice break from all my paper projects!

    @Pedsgirl06, the cameo is from, I just used my glue gun to attach it to the ribbon.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Worldwide Wedding « Writing for New Media, Guest @ 2:27 pm

    […] is a standout among blogs. Everything a good blog should do, the Wedding bee does from using catchy blog post titles to useful links. On a recent post about a new planning tool, a contributor for the blog discussed […]

  13. parfait Member
    parfait 1755 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:19 pm

    It is too cute! The cameo is a perfect finishing touch~

  14. mouse Member
    Mrs. Mouse 5771 posts, Bee Keeper @ 3:22 pm

    It turned out really pretty! I love the little touches you added. I probably would have tried to use hot glue and totally effed it up, haha.

  15. scissors Member
    scissors 7343 posts, Busy Beekeeper @ 4:19 pm

    You are way braver than I am, lady! I would never be able to do this. :) Well done!

  16. sewing Member
    sewing 2649 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:28 pm

    Lovely garter! The cameo is a nice touch!

  17. cardigan Member
    cardigan 8645 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 7:35 pm

    You make it look so easy! It looks great!

  18. pudding Member
    pudding 1183 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:54 pm

    Very pretty! Well done, Cola!

  19. frozen yogurt Member
    frozen yogurt 2600 posts, Sugar bee @ 8:33 pm

    So pretty!! We’re not doing the garter toss, but I still want to wear one!

  20. Member
    Mrs. Danish 29 posts, Newbee @ 8:06 am

    I made my own too! I found it was a lot easier to sew the fabric into a tube first, then using a safety pin to push the elastic through and sew it together.

  21. nachos Member
    nachos 1721 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:12 am

    Very pretty! And you saved so much money making it yourself, nice work!

  22. Member
    Danish_Student 396 posts, Helper bee @ 8:38 am

    It’s so cute! You inspire me, Cola – I must make a garter as well.

  23. rainbow Member
    rainbow 1525 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:36 am

    Too much work for me, but it’s sooo pretty!

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 10:48 am

    My grandma used to sew to elastic by stretching it across her la-z-boy lounger and pinning each end to an armrest. That way it stays stretched out–and you’re committed to finishing the project before you get out of the chair!

  25. Member
    KMSull 6442 posts, Bee Keeper @ 11:07 am

    This is amazing! So, so gorgeous.

  26. Member
    Miss Chicken Wing 1225 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:24 am

    I think you accomplished your vision!!!!

  27. frenchbulldog Member
    frenchbulldog 1088 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:02 pm

    Great tutorial! I had no idea how to make it stretchy.

  28. msbuttons Member
    msbuttons 5014 posts, Bee Keeper @ 7:17 pm

    Wowwwww fabulous job!!!!

  29. Member
    krissybee 3921 posts, Honey bee @ 6:21 pm

    that looks awesome, great job!

  30. Member
    mrspaetz 3812 posts, Honey bee @ 12:24 am

    wow that just looks like a professionally made one! awesome!

  31. hotwings Member
    hotwings 2200 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:49 pm

    beautiful! I’m thoroughly impressed!

  32. Member
    amyinchrist 2 posts, Wannabee @ 11:39 am

    Ohhhhhhh my gosh I love this!!!!!!!!
    I would pay anything $$$$ to have you custom make make my guarter….PLEASE, pretty please!!!!!!!! 😀

  33. Guest Icon Guest
    Hillary Jo, Guest @ 1:21 am

    Pretty! I’m making mine too and your instructions were very helpful! I think you’d like mine; it’s 8 inches of dual layer antique crochet trim with a blue ribbon to bunch it daintily in the middle.

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