Tutorial: Magnetic Skirt Garter

(First off, many apologies to those of you ladies and gents who aren’t into skirts. I have something much dudelier lined up for the next two projects, I promise. No lace or ribbons at all. Scout’s honor.)

There are certain things about the male wardrobe that I’m jealous of. Their pants always have pockets, for one. For another, their dress-up clothes are generally warmer in the winter (picture bridesmaids and club-going ladies shivering in strapless dresses and huddled into their partners’ suit jackets).

On the other hand, girls get to wear cowl-neck tops, which I believe are really the epitome of dressiness and comfort combined, and nearly always flattering.

And in the hot summer, we get skirts.

When I was waiting tables in a restaurant with no air conditioning, we had a fan that pointed up from the floor beneath the computer station. After years of eschewing them, I’ve finally learned to default to skirts on hot days, and believe you me, there was no more delightful feeling than cold air blowing on hot legs. (And if you’ve been wondering why it took us ladies so long to type in orders during the summer, well, honey, now you know.)

Skirts swish around your legs like a built-in fan. The effect is even more magnificent on a bike, but there’s a downside to all that fluttering, as anyone who’s ever ridden a bike in a flowy skirt can tell you.

How do you keep from flashing the entire world?

Well, this is how to mount your bike in order to keep that from happening (but how does she get back off?).

Via Momentum Magazine.

But we’re talking about when you’re actually peddling the bike.

Dottie at Lets Go Ride a Bike has used every slapdash solution from bunching her skirt into a hair tie, using binder clips from work, and even stapling her skirt.

You don’t have to settle for staples, though. The Dutch company Nomonro sells decorative clips in their WebShop which are designed to weight down your skirt. (Their slogan is: “For your flirty skirt, and other clip moments,” which cracks me up. Other “clip moments?”)

Another popular option is the skirt garter. The Main Tank recently posted about her experience with the skirt garter clip from Bird Industries. (In fact, if you Google “skirt garter cycling” you’ll find tons of people gushing about the Bird Industries skirt garters.)

The ladies of Two Girls and Their Bikes have put together a tutorial on making your own clip-style garter, but even simpler DIY options include making a garter (or simply using a hair band), then safety-pinning your dress to it.

If you wanted to get super fancy, I suppose you could also stitch weights into the hem of your skirt in order to keep it from blowing up.

Me? I decided to make a skirt garter that worked magnetically. Why? Because I have magnets and not clips, and because messing around with a safety pin seems kind of awkward to me.

I meant to make this project fairly simple, a casual fabric tube with elastic inside to match my Marty Goes to Mars skirt.

But then I saw the lime green lace in my stash (don’t judge), and how perfectly it matched with the green lining I had left over from a little girl’s coat, and all thoughts of simplicity went out the window.*

The reserved part of me said, “Seriously? You would never in a million years wear a frilly lime green garter.” The wild part, who has been smitten of late with chartreuse, retorted: “Shut up. It’s not like it’ll take very long, then you can make your boring Martian garter.”

And the wild part was right. It didn’t take very long at all. So go ahead and indulge in something ridiculous.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2″ elastic
  • 2 good strong magnets (Craft store magnets won’t do.)
  • A 25-30″ long strip of fabric that’s 2″ wide
  • 25-30″ of lace (optional)
  • Other embellishments

Measure and cut

Measure around your thigh, then cut your elastic 2″ shorter and your fabric strip (and lace) 5″ longer. This will get you approximately a 50% “scrunch” ratio when everything’s put together. If you’d like your fabric to be more or less scrunchy, now’s the time to add or subtract length.

(Tip: Keep in mind that when you put it all together at the end, you’ll be able to cut your fabric down to lessen the amount of scrunch, but you won’t be able to add more. So err on the side of too much fabric if you’re not sure.)

Sew the casing

Fold your fabric strip in half and stitch it into a tube, using a 1/4″ seam. Turn it inside out and press it so that the seam is centered on one side.

(Tip: To easily turn it inside out, don’t cut the tail threads on one end of your stitching. Thread them through a blunt-ended needle (like a yarn needle), then push that through the length of the casing. If you’re careful, you’ll be able to grasp the threads on the other side. Just pull, and it’ll turn itself right-side out.)

Sew the casing to the lace

Pin the casing onto the lace with the seam facing the lace. Pin it well (I put a pin in at every scallop in the lace), then stitch it down.

You don’t have a lot of width to work with, here, so stitch as close to the edge as you can without letting the needle slip off the edge. If you leave too much allowance, the elastic won’t fit.

Now. Isn’t that pretty?

Insert the elastic

Use a safety pin to thread the elastic through. Now’s the time to check the fit and adjust if necessary. I found that I wanted to lose about 3″ of elastic.

Now pin it at both ends. Fold the garter in half with right sides together, and stitch it into a circle. Ta-da! You now have a garter.

Add science!

To attach your magnet, cut a thin piece of fabric into circle with a diameter of about 1 1/4″ (unless your magnets are bigger than mine. Then scale up your circle, too). Using a hand needle and matching thread, run a basting stitch around the edge of the circle.

Set your magnet in the middle, and–


Now catch-stitch the magnet in the center of your finished garter.

I added a ribbon, too, because if I was going to make a frilly garter with a ton of lace, it was damn well going to have at least one bow.

Create the Outer Magnet

Wrap the second magnet in fabric, just like you did the first.

Make very very certain that you have the right side facing out! Remember, class. One side of the magnet attracts, the other repels.

Now’s your chance to be as frilly or plain as you like—this magnet will go on the outside of your skirt, so make it special.

I made a singed fabric flower (from this tutorial) and stitched the magnet to the back of it.

I haven’t gotten home in time these past few days to provide you with any “in-action” shots, but I anticipate a sunny Saturday. I promise I’ll post some as soon as I take them!

Happy sewing. May your days be filled with ribbons and lace. Or not, if that’s your proclivity. It’s still a free country for most of us.

* Sometimes I think that working for a children’s catalog company and having a baby niece has fried my cuteness-overload sensors. I’ve totally lost perspective.

8 thoughts on “Tutorial: Magnetic Skirt Garter

  1. Brilliant idea. I shall be emailing the link to this to my bikey mates – those with skirts of course but also those without who probably need more frills and ruffles in their lives! If you had lost ALL perspective it would’ve been pink on pink with pink and some sparkles, so really you did pretty well :O)

  2. Searched the internet and found this! Will be making asap. If you have an electric toothbrush, the tiny magnets in the head are SUPER strong. I’ve been stockpiling them for years and find occasional uses…. like this! Small enough to sew right into the band, and free!

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