May 13, 2016

Grab your Garter Belt - It's Nylon Stocking Day!

Break out the hosiery and garter belts! Nylon Stocking Day is May 15.

Many may not remember ever hearing the term “nylon stockings”. Varying in color, design and transparency, nylon stockings (also known as hosiery) are close-fitting, elastic garments worn the same as socks.

But stockings are longer, ending well above the knee on the thigh and held up by means of a garter belt.

A bit of stocking history - Prior to the 1920’s, stockings were made of woven cloth such as cotton, linen, wool or silk and were worn for warmth. As hemlines of women’s dresses rose in the 1920’s, women began to wear stockings over their exposed legs. These "new" stockings were sheer with a seam in the back. Shame on any woman whose seams weren't perfectly straight!

During World War 2, we needed the nylon for parachutes, so women at that time painted their bare legs with eyeliner to make it appear as though they were wearing stockings!

We can't celebrate Nylon Stocking Day without mentioning the garter belt! Garter belts were an essential foundation garment - there were no stay-up stockings, nor had panty hose been invented yet.

I've seen many patterns for garter belts but as in all patterns, they might not fit every body. Here's an easy way to draft a simple vintage style garter belt from your body measurements. First take your waist and hip measurements, and the distance from your waist to your hip.

Draw a rectangle on a piece of paper equal in width to half your hip measurement mark as equal in height to the distance between your waist and hip. If you want your belt below the waist, you can change it later. Mark the right side of the rectangle as Center front and the Left side as Center Back.

Now fold the rectangle in two to find the Side Seam, and in two again between the side seam and the ends to find the position of the garter elastic extensions. Your rectangle will be divided into 4 equal parts.

Now to reduce the waist. Subtract your waist measurement (32") from your hip measurement (40). Divide that measurement by 2 (we are drafting one-half the body so that is 4") Divide that number by 6. That is the size of each side of the 3 darts we are going to create. For example:

40 - 31 = 9" and 9/2 = 4.5" and 4.5/6 - .75"

or for a metric example

100 - 76 = 24 and 24/2 =12 and 12/6 = 2 cm

Mark this distance out from each dotted vertical line. You should have 6 marks in all, each (in my case) .75" away from the vertical lines.

Connect the 6 marks to the bottom of the vertical lines at the hip line. These are your dart legs.

Cut along the black vertical lines B and SS and fold so the pink dart legs align and the darts are closed

Draw a gentle curve along the top line for the waist, keeping as close to the original straight lines as possible.

Draw a curves from the bottom of dart B through the dart at SS to the bottom of dart F as shown. Draw a curve from the bottom of dart F to the CF line, making sure the curve joins the line at a right angle. Finally draw a curve from the bottom of the B dart to the CB line, again meeting the CB line at a right angle. This curved line is higher due to the size of the CB fastener you will be using.

Connect the waist curve and the hip curves with straight lines at CB and CF. Add seam allowances if you are adding trim to the bottom edge or lining the garter belt. Garter belts are often made from woven fabrics, such as silk satin or charmeuse. Depending on the type of fastener you choose, you may have to add some length at the CB.

If you imagine the full length garter belt (instead of just one half) this is what it looks like. You could keep it in one piece or you could break it into smaller sections to save fabric or to provide some interesting detail.

So now you know how to draft a basic garter belt - go and find some nylon stockings to wear with it and celebrate Nylon Stocking Day in vintage style!


  1. I am enjoying all your informative posts, Beverly! I also like the format for finding all the pages. Oh, dear--I do remember those utilitarian garter belts used to hold up stockings under my elementary school tunic.

  2. Did you get my A, B, C, D, DD...thought that up all by myself! I remember garter belts too, along with sanitary napkin belts! That was awful!

  3. I love the new garter belts! beautiful new fabrics and gorgeous colours. the belts for pads were so awful - they rolled and rolled - everyone could see them. Thank goodness elastic has come a LONG way!!! and no one needs to use them for pads, ever again! And now we make our own bras, panties, corsets, garter belts - the works - all gorgeous!

    1. I know - it's so great being able to make all the things we see in the high end shops! And I agree, elastic has come a loooooong way! Now we have latex-free elastics. I remember the old elastic and when it dies, it stretched out and never came back!

  4. I'll be 58 this year. I remember when I was in my late 20s I decided to go back to wearing stockings and garter belts because I remember having felt so elegant in them as a young girl. I searched PLENTY and was told frequently that if I wanted such garments I must go to a "naughty" store hahahaha my Gosh! I blushed- but I went and guess what- they were still elegant and romantic and sexy and by gosh I put them to good use. sigh

    1. I am 5 years older than you and I had to wear garter belts (there was no other option) when I graduated from junior school (grade 8) I felt so grown up! That's the only time I was allowed to wear stockings! then in high school, I wore them once again when I got to the "city school" for grade 11 onward. We weren't allowed to wear pants to school (you were sent home if you did) so garters were an everyday thing for me. Once I get into university, along came panty hose. But I still love the idea of stockings (yes, with the seam up the back!) and garters!

    2. HA I remember wearing bright orange Fishnet stockings to school. I thought it was so grand. And yes- I actually got sent home for wearing pants to school one day. Man we have been alive a long time. Here's to longevity girl. Wha's like us?!

    3. Dayglow orange Fishnet stockings...I had forgotten them. My cousin and I were Soooo cool wearing those with our mini skirts. lol
      My motto is...if you wore a mini skirt in the 60s, you shouldn't be wearing them now!

    4. Speak for yourself. haha My motto is I Do What I Want