This is a Holdup: Make Your Own Suspenders

Maybe you’ve caught yourself staring longingly at the expensive pairs at Urban Outfitters or American Apparel, maybe you dig the JBeals look, or maybe you’re just looking for something new, but I think we both know that it’s high time you get your own pair of suspenders.

Suspenders — which are apparently called braces by British/American people who try too hard — are slick little babies that make pretty much any outfit look just that much better. With jeans and a t-shirt? Obviously. Over a button down? Hello! Clipped onto a high-waisted skirt? Why not?

Today I’m going to teach you how to make suspenders for yourself. It’s the first in a few installments I’m going to be writing on DIY clothes because sometimes that’s what has to happen: you have to do it yourself. When it comes to girls who like “menswear,” it can be hard to find what you’re looking for. I know that lots of times I get frustrated when I go shopping because they don’t have what I want, and if they do it’s priced outrageously. There’s really no good reason why you should have to spend twice as much for the women’s version of the exactly same shirt that’s sitting over in the men’s department but isn’t quite made to fit your body. So we’re going to do something about that. This is mutiny: arts and crafts style.

If you have no idea what you’re doing, don’t worry! We’re starting small. Grab a friend to help you with measurements, pull on a pair of pants, and you’re ready to go.


+ one d-ring or o-ring (available at a hardware store)

+ three suspender clips (available at a craft store in the sewing department)

+ two tiny safety pins

+ three yards of elastic

+ thread to match your elastic

+ a needle

+ scissors

+ pliers

Tips for nascent seamstresses:

Step One: Bend the suspender clips

+ If you bought elastic that’s thinner than an inch, you’re going to have to bend your suspender clips so that your suspenders don’t go sliding around all over the place. Using your pliers, carefully bend and pull the metal piece out until you have a triangle-shaped top. Like so:

Step Two: Make the back piece

+ First, sew the elastic to the suspender clip. Make sure that the piece you fold over is going to end up against your body because you don’t want to show your stitches to the world!

+ Because you’re only making five seams in this project, it won’t kill you to make sure that they’re really reinforced. Sew back and forth at least twice, and quadruple knot the ends because nothing’s more obnoxious than having your suspenders fall apart when you’re just trying to casually rock them.

+ To get the measurement right for the piece of elastic, attach the clip to the back of your pants and have your friend mark the place where you want it to end. Or just do it yourself if you’re bendy. Don’t forget to add an extra centimeter for folding over and sewing.

+ Sew the d-ring or o-ring on to the other end, remembering to keep the folded-over bit to the inside.

Step Three: Sew the front clips

+ Sew a second suspender clip to a new piece of elastic.

+ Snap all the clips on your pants and slide the elastic through the ring and back over your shoulder so that you can get a feel for how long you should cut it. Get your friend to make sure that it isn’t twisted in the back and add an inch or so because it’s better to have too much elastic than not enough.

+Sew the last suspender clip in place.

Step Four: Secure the back ring

+ This step is especially important if you’re using a d-ring because you don’t want it to be turning sideways. All you’re going to do is make a little seam right along the edge of the ring to keep the back of your suspenders in place.

Step Five: Adjustments

+ You’re almost there! Clip them on, grab your safety pins, and tighten everything up by pinning any excess elastic so that it hides above the front clips. Voila! You’ve got suspenders.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. Firstly: best headline ever

    Secondly: on behalf of all the british-english-speaking readers, I politely demand you include some pictures of girls in real suspenders (you call them garters?)

    • YES to what Sally said! Suspenders are what hold up supersexyomfg stockings, I think we need pictures of this!

      Major love for the braces tutorial though :D

  2. I couldn’t agree with Sally more. I was overjoyed at the thought of girls in suspenders! We need this fixed up! Please, please, please give us some gender queer girls in suspenders!

  3. this is a truly valuable service you are providing here. i thank you. times are hard and i love getting crafty. i’m excited to try this.

  4. I must commend you on your illustrations because once in high school for a project I made a tutorial of how to make a skirt and drawing how to sew/make things is REALLY hard. And extra points for detail, ie: the silly bandz.

  5. All I can think of when I see a person in suspenders is my Pop rocking his with his pants still slightly sagging, revealing that his polo shirt is actually tucked into his underwear.

  6. I just about died when I saw my present girlfriend in suspenders for the first time. Fastest way to get a girls pants off? Put on suspenders, in my book.

  7. i need friends to make these for as gifts, cause i don’t think they’ll mix well with my enormous chest :/

    • I hear ya there. My best gf got me rainbow suspenders for Christmas last year. I’d wanted them so bad. But these big suckers make them impossible to wear. Its really very sad :(

      • i’m a fan of wearing them hanging down instead of over my shoulders.
        you could try that if you have a snazzy pair that you want to rock.

  8. I had braces when I was little. They were my favourite things to wear to pre-school.

    That and my polka dot dress.

    I really want to make these, but I can’t sew.
    Oh, who cares, I’mma make me some bad braces.

    And wear them with my short shorts. Because you know that would look hot.

  9. “+ one d-ring or o-ring”

    I immediately thought “Why would you need a strap-on harness ring to make suspenders?”

    Bye. I think I out-gayed myself.

  10. TOTALLY agree that the quickest way to get my attention is to put these on.

    Sadly, I went to the great expense of purchasing a pair, only to find that yes, my big norks make it look like I’m strapped into a childs car seat or something, ugh.

    So the moral of the story is I LIKE SMALL BOOBS!

    That is all x

  11. I like that the girl in your illustration is wearing those shaped elastic bracelet thingys. Perfect.

  12. This is kool and all and I might even try to make some out of duct tape (I make wallets, purses, ties, belts and such) but I’d rather spend eight bucks on a pair for real ones then do all this.

    • thank you, randi. this was a very helpful comment. next time i feel crafty i will think of your advice and just go to walmart and buy it instead.

  13. Those guys you say that “try to hard” just might be the ones that save you one day from getting your ass beat by a bunch of neo nazi boneheads. Skinheads have nothing to do with trying to be hard or racism. Derrogetory comments like that in your blog only make you look like the stupid one. Research before you blog next time

    • um, i have no idea what you’re talking about. i was talking about americans who think it’s cute to adopt british words like “jumpers” and “braces” even though they’re clearly american. also it’s a joke because i am often one of those people.

      • ah ok, there’s really no wrong way to call them though. i’m british in america so if i used that slang would i be trying to hard? see it doesn’t really make sense. thats all i was pointing out. some british americans would be offended if you pointed out to them that they couldn’t use there slang in america. anyways I thought you were bad mouthing the culture grouping all skins into one “tough racist” catagory because it’s so rampent these days. that is all.

      • Also another history check. jumpers were first invented in london by albert thurston in 1805. he made and sold them out of a workshop on 27 panton street, haymarket london. so the correct terms for them are actually british. those terms include, suspenders, braces, jumpers. so if you wanna get really technicle here you could say people who call them suspenders are “trying to hard” which is just silly. am i right?

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