1840’s Knitted Garters

I felt the need to make myself a pair of suitable garters for my 1840’s outfit. I had raided my closet and cut down a pair of too small white cotton tights to make a pair of over knee stockings (a budget variety, if you like me can’t afford reproductions – just make sure to stitch the tops, so they don’t unravel), but like their 19th century counterparts, they wouldn’t stay up on their own. I felt like knitting and knowing I had come across knitted garters in the mid-19th century before, I went to the internet to see what I could dig up.

After a short search, I found that a description of how to make knitted garters were present in The Workwoman’s Guide from 1838, which suited my period just fine, though I have yet to find an example of knitted garters from this period in Sweden. I looked through my stash of yarn, and picked out a soft blue wool, not too thick. I used knitting needles 2 mm (US 0, UK 14), and with 14 stitches I got a width of 4 cm, not too far from the “nail, more or less, wide” mentioned in the description. To really have them a nail wide (a nail being equal to 5,7 cm or 2 1/4”) seemed too wide for comfort. I also made mine shorter than the 2/3 of a yard (about 60 cm) stated in the Guide, as 46 cm worked just fine for me.
I knitted in a hole at one end, described as optional, which might be why I didn’t need the full 60 cm: I just wrapped the garter round my leg, pulled one end through the hole, and tied it off.

This was a quick and simple project, just what one needs once in a while. The garters are really comfortable to wear, and though no one will see them, I like the fact that they are blue. When in active use, I fold my stockings down over the garters though, I feel it makes it more secure and comfortable, as the stockings will just roll down to the knee otherwise, which is really annoying.

4 thoughts on “1840’s Knitted Garters

  1. Nice garters, and like the look of how they're tied using the hole – tying two ends wouldn't look as neat.

    Thanks for the tip on cutting off cotton tights, that's a great idea for period looking stockings (custom length, and no elasticized tops)!


  2. Thank you! Sometimes one has to cheat…. O:)


  3. A very cute project. May I inquire about your petticoat? The details are so pretty. Perhaps you have a post on it?


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