OCOC BLOG


Making Covered Suspenders

As I've seen this crop up a few times, and as I had the pics from an old book project, I thought I'd post a short blog on how to make covered suspenders. I used to make retro style suspender belts quite a lot. I also used to wear fully fashioned seamed stockings most of the time.

You will need:
Lightweight fabric
Elastic
Suspender grips
Regulators
Optional - hooks to attach to garment if detachable are needed.

Suspender grips - pic courtesy of Sew Curvy

Suspender grips - pic courtesy of Sew Curvy

Suspender adustors/regulators. Pic courtesy Sew Curvy

Suspender adustors/regulators. Pic courtesy Sew Curvy


Suspender general tips
4 straps are minimum. 6 are better for wearing with seams. You can add as many as will fit if you or the client want. It's a more fetishy look but can work well. However for wearing, 4, 6 or 8 is the usual. 
Seam wearers will want a strap pretty much directly above the stocking seam.
Metal hardware is best. Plastic does not offer enough grip.
The skinny suspender straps most high street belts use are no good at all. Use the 20mm grips or, for a very vintage look, you can get 30mm. 
Elastic should be fairly stiff and stable. You don't want too much stretch.

Length of finished straps
There's no right length, as it varies on the body and on the length of the corset or depth of the suspender belt. Measure your subject from place of joining to garment, and the thigh (3 inches or so from the top of leg crease, but again depends on how high they wear stockings). Allow an extra third for the strap to fold over and allow for the stretch (another variable depending on elastic). 
Remember: back straps should be a little longer than the front ones, to allow for sitting. 

Left to right:  Tube of fabric with seam allowance trimmed. Turn tube and press~Edge stitch down both sides Thread elastic through and attach hardware 

Left to right: 

Tube of fabric with seam allowance trimmed.

Turn tube and press~Edge stitch down both sides

Thread elastic through and attach hardware 

Fabric
This is key! Some fabrics will not ruffle up or will be bulky. Satins are no good unless it's a thin charmeuse type. Duchesse will not work well. It won't lie nicely, and it will be too bulky to allow the regulators to shut on the strap. Dupion silk works very well as it wrinkles up very pleasingly.
The crucial thing is grain. You want to cut it lengthwise, parallel to the selvedge. This lets the fabric ruffle properly.

  • Cut strips double your elastic width, plus a seam allowance, plus a few millimetres either side of the elastic. So if your elastic is 19mm, cut around 70mm wide. You want the strips to be anything from 1.5 to 2 times the length of the elastic. It depends on taste and fabric. 
  • Fold in half and stitch along one edge. Then turn the tube so the raw edges are inside.
  • Press flat with the seam in the centre. If you leave the seam on the edge it can case the strap to twist.
  • stitch down each side a couple of mm from the edge.This is optional but it keeps the fabric from catching in the regulator when you try to adjust it.
  • Thread your elastic through the casing. Pin at each end firmly so it doesn't ping back.
  • Pull the elastic taut, and the fabric will form even crinkles when you release it.
  • Thread the adjustor/regulator on one end, fold raw end under and stitch tidily, ensuring you stitch through the elastic inside. If you hold the adjustor clip with the lift up part of the clip away from you, then the seam on the casing should be facing you. 
  • Thread the grip on, then thread the end of the strap up through the adjustor. 
  • Finish the top edge, either sewing a hook on or by stitching it onto the garment.
     

Suspender components can be purchased from our main sponsor Sew Curvy