Pearls of Wisdom

How to Make a DIY Wedding Garter

Design Idea A96T Garter
by Leslie McLane, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

The bridal garter is a special accessory for brides to wear on their leg during the wedding day. Nowadays, a lot of brides choose to wear two wedding garters, one to keep and one to toss. The garter toss is similar to the bouquet toss, but instead of being thrown to eligible women, the wedding garter is thrown to eligible bachelors during the reception. Make your garter(s)--or a garter gift--special by creating your own. It's actually pretty easy!

There are two ways to create your personalized wedding garter. Firstly, you can sew your own or secondly, you can simply embellish an existing base. If you're not big on needle and thread, you can still completely customize an existing garter base--just skip to Step 5.

What You'll Need:

  • Lace (any color and however wide you want; average is anywhere from 1-3 inches)
  • Ribbon (again any color and however wide you want, but typically ribbon covers the top 1/3 or 1/2 of the lace)
  • Thread (that matches ribbon color)
  • 1/2 inch wide elastic cord
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle
  • Measuring tape
  • Your embellishments

Step 1: How to Figure out the Custom Garter Length
You don't want a DIY wedding garter to be too big or it'll slide off during the ceremony and you don't want it too small or you run the risk of feeling constricted. The average wedding garter size is 14-15 inches.

To figure out the measurements for your garter materials, start by measuring the circumference of the bride's thigh. For this example, we'll say her thigh is 14 inches around. Take the circumference and add 7. In this case that totals 21 inches. This is the length for your ribbon and lace. Since the elastic is stretchy, you'll take the thigh circumference (14) and subtract 3. For this instance, the elastic cord would be 11 inches long.

Note: It's still a good idea to test how these measurements feel. Hold the elastic ends together, wrapped around the thigh before actually sewing anything. Adjust slightly for comfort if necessary.

Step 2: Add the Ribbon
Align the ribbon with the top of your lace. Sew a straight stitch so the seam is close to the top. Sew a second straight stitch on the bottom of the ribbon, preferably with a similar amount of edge on the outside of the seam. Some people sew the ribbon in the center of the lace--this is entirely your preference.

Add the Ribbon: Ribbon and Lace

Threading the Elastic Step 3: Threading the Elastic
This part can be tricky, but a safety pin should make things easier. Attach a safety pin (that will fit through the ribbon and lace tube you just sewed) to the end of your elastic cord. Thread the safety pin into your ribbon and lace tube created in Step 2. Since the elastic is shorter than the ribbon, you'll need to gather the lace as you finagle the safety pin through to the other end.

Sew Together Step 4: The Final Seam
Join your elastic ends together and with the ribbon side of the lace facing inward, sew all your material ends together. Cut off any extra materials. Flip the garter right side out so the ribbon is now showing on the outside. Voila: a custom bridal garter base!

Step 5: Embellish Your Custom Wedding Garter
Now comes the extra-creative part. Your bridal garter can have any number of embellishments you want, including: Charms are quite common, including letters (as initials), and with a "Shop by Theme" section on the charms page, you'll be able to find exactly what you want. Hot-fix rhinestones in dozens of colors are especially easy to design with, creating a sparkly result just by applying with a hotfix applicator. Sew-on Swarovski® crystals have two convenient holes on each end of the crystal for adding to wedding garters, resulting in beautiful patterns or just some added shine in strategic locations. Almost Instant Jewelry drop and link settings make it easy to add non-drilled Swarovski fancy stones as a focal piece. The garter is also a great place to incorporate your "something blue."

Having a themed wedding? Incorporate the wedding theme when designing a DIY bridal garter for an extra-special detail. Sew on cogs, gears and a little feather for a steampunk wedding garter. Attach an anchor, sailboat or captain's wheel charm via a jumpring and sewn-on ribbon bow for a nautical wedding garter. Feel free to add a stitch or two of thread (in a color that matches your lace) over small jumprings for added security to your design. Brooches can literally just be pinned on, how easy is that?

Showcase your personality! Do you tend to have a more edgy style? Rhinestuds and skulls--Swarovski even has crystal skulls--aren't off limits for your customized bridal garter as well as looped dangly chain. More of a cowgirl? Use burlap instead of ribbon and add some Turquoise gemstone beads and components beads with a horseshoe charm. Sports fans have been known to use their favorite teams' colors and include an officially licensed team charm on their wedding garters.
Garter Embellishment Components

Basically we're saying, make the wedding garter super you! Whether you're the bride or making this DIY bridal garter for someone else, personalize the design for a special memento that is sure to be cherished long after the nuptials.

Design with ... Additional Resources ... If you have a question or feedback on this Pearls of Wisdom article, or would like to share your own wedding project idea, please contact us here.
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