A couple of years back when the brand X-Girl stepped back into the U.S. as X-Girl LA, I spied a pair of long shorts on their website that came with a set of convertible ruffled suspenders. I wanted them. I would visit the website frequently. And I have this friend Sarah. She’s awesome. She’s from Maine. But that probably only has a little bit to do with why she’s awesome. Her mom is a Home EC teacher, so she’s gifted with mad crafting and handiwork skills. I, on the other hand, went to a science high school so I had classes like Mechanical Drafting and Aerospace Technology, and although I totally grades-wise kicked them in the ass, I have never had to build a plane by hand, or schematically draw an alarm clock to scale since I graduated. Anyways, just about every time I see Sarah, if I compliment an article of her clothing, she has something to say like “It was a dress, but I turned it into a shirt” or, “I made it.” What a bitch, right? I’d hate her for that, but she’s always like “I can teach you.” Her mommy did good. So one time a while back I lured her into beta testing this website with me where you’re supposed to post clothes you like, and I posted the shorts with the ruffle suspenders. And she was on some, “you know, we can make those, thems suspenders” type words. So we did. Well, not exactly. But we did.
We went down to a trim shop in the garment district and looked at ribbons and elastics and hardwear, and I found some things that spoke to me. And this is what happened.
- 2 yards of 1 inch elastic
- 5 yards of 2 inch ribbon
- Matching thread
- 4 suspender clasps
- 2 sliders
- Straight Pins
- Sewing Machine
Once my supplies were all together
We cut the ribbon and elastic in half, to give us two equal pieces of each.
We placed a pin near the end of the ribbon, and before we began sewing, wound the thread around it to anchor it. Then we began sewing a straight stitch about 1/3 of the way into the ribbon. We used a loose setting on the sewing machine, around 4.5. Because of the texture of ribbon I used, the ribbon was a little bit slippery as it went through the machine. So I had to sew slowly, holding the ribbon down to the edge of the sewing machine to keep it from sliding around and creating an uneven stitch. I stitched all the way to the end of the ribbon, and repeated on the second piece.
Keeping the anchoring pin with the thread wound around it, we began to gather the ribbon by holding on to the opposite end of the thread, and pushing the ribbon down carefully. We did this bit by bit, working the ruffles we created toward the opposite end of the ribbon, as evenly as possible until the ruffled ribbon had been reduced from 2 and a half yards to 60 inches long.
Next we took the elastic, and folded it back a half inch, and sewed a seam across it to hold it in place.
We folded it back a half inch one more time, and sewed another seam across it, reversing and going forward a couple of times to secure it and make it sturdy. Next we placed the suspender clasp on.
Fold over the elastic and hem it. Then lace the slider through the suspender with the middle bar on the wrong side of the elastic (not the side that you are going to attach the ruffle) Then weput the suspender through the suspender clasp (with the right side facing out, the ruffled side, of course.) Then we put the hemmed end through the middle bar of the slider and sew it to the strap making a small loop. If you are confused they should look at a bra strap for a good illustration of how to put in a slider.
Next we pinned the ruffle to the suspender, starting in the middle, and then the middle of each middle, and the middle of each middle again, until we felt it was secure. We did this to both pieces of elastic, with the ruffles facing in opposite directions.
After that we ran the elastic with the ruffle through the sewing machine, following the seam that existed on the ribbon already. Slowly. It is essential to stretch the elastic while it is run through the machine, so the stitches don’t break when you stretch it later. We also had to be very careful to keep the ruffles from getting stuck under the presser foot, and being sewn over.
Once the ruffle is completely sewn to the elastic, we slid the slider into place. It cut into the ruffle, but is still adjustable.
And the suspenders are complete!
I attached them to my pants, with the sliders in the back.
And here’s a variation on how I can wear them like a sash.
In all, it didn’t take as long to make them (about 2 hours) as Sarah thought they would. Certainly having two people work on them cut down on the time, as the ruffling took a while, and the sewing was mostly slowly paced. But now I have a cool pair of suspenders, so it was well worth the effort.