A Garter for Prom

I don’t sew. At least not very often. In fact, when my mom passed away 20 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I ended up with her brand new sewing machine. I dragged it around with me for years, moving from here to there, state to state sometimes. About four years ago I did some purging and sold it at a garage sale for $30. I regretted that a couple of years later when it would have come in handy for several little things here and there.

Last summer, the neighbors were having a garage sale. They had a sewing machine sitting out there for $5.00. It was an older machine but she assured me that it worked, so I bought it. It’s been sitting in my garage, collecting dust since the day I bought it at the garage sale. So today, I pulled it out, wiped it all off and crossed my fingers.

As you can see, it did work, so I am very happy about that. How well I actually did is questionable LOL! I am not a seamstress. I have sewn a few things in my life, and that’s about it. So when my daughter asked me to make her garter for prom, I was not only touched that she wanted me to make it, but at the same time, I was terrified that I would screw it up and disappoint her.

I won’t be giving a tutorial for this, mostly because I learned as I went and did make some mistakes. I certainly don’t want to pass any mistakes on to you! ;) I’m glad I made it though. Now that I’ve done it once I feel confident I can make one without a problem at a later time. The positive side is that even with the mistakes, I was able to correct it enough that my daughter loves it and it’ll do the job.

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Mistake #1: Don’t cut ribbon in half (lengthwise). It frays. A lot. I ended up having to use glue on the frays so the garter wouldn’t fall apart.

Mistake #2: After sewing the lace onto the sides of the ribbon, you are supposed to be able to turn the tube inside out. Ummm. NOT. That was impossible. I tried, I really did, but it wasn’t happening. That’s why you can see the white stitching in the photo, which leads me to…

Mistake #3: Use thread that matches the ribbon or fabric. It would not have mattered if I could have gotten the darn thing to turn inside out, but I couldn’t, so it did. :-P

Here’s basically what I did:

First we used a tape measure to measure around Kristen’s leg where the garter would be worn. That was 16″, so I measured out the ribbon a little more than double at 33″.

Then I folded the ribbon in half and ironed it to hold the fold in place. This is where I meant well and made mistake #1. I cut the ribbon along the fold since I would need 2 ribbons stacked on top of each other.

Then I pinned lace on both sides of the ribbon, then sewed the lace on. This is where mistake #2 came in. After adding the lace I tried to turn it inside out, and not only was it too small to do so, but I realized that the lace would have ended up on the inside too (if I had been able to turn it inside out)! UGH

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So to salvage things, I ran the elastic up through the tube of ribbon and scrunched it up that way. Then I trimmed the elastic and ran a quick zigzag stitch across the elastic ends and finished the edges. I tied a long piece of white ribbon into a bow and hand sewed it to the garter. Then I hand sewed the white flower embellishment on as well. I finished up by adding some glue to the insanely fraying edges.

All in all, Kristen is happy and I learned how to make a garter!


  1. Amanda says

    Anonymous – it's just a tradition. I wondered how long it would take for someone to ask ;) it's really a keepsake more than anything. The tradition is that the garter is given to the girl's date as a momento. Sometimes the girl takes it off during prom and the boy wears it around his arm during the dance.

    it's not for anything sexual if that's what you were thinking ;) and the boy does NOT remove it with his teeth like at a wedding.


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