How to Make Stockings and Boots Stay Up

Are you tired of pulling up your stockings every time you take a few steps? Annoyed at all the cosplay photos that are ruined by your out-of-control legwear? If you’ve ever worn a costume with thigh-highs or overknee boots, I know you feel the pain!

Even though these slouchy boots look cute on clumsy Steph (No Game No Life)…

This tutorial will show you multiple ways to solve this problem. Which one you use will depend on the design of your costume and how much you intend to move in it, but I’ll start with the most popular solution that I use as a default in almost any cosplay boot, stocking, and armpiece.

Silicone stay-ups

To help the garment stay up, I sew a piece of silicone-backed elastic band to the inside if the hem. This type of elastic is used in dessous making and it is simply an elastic band with one or more strips of silicone fused to one side. The wider the silicone strip, the better because it will give you more grip!

Cut the elastic band about 5 cm (2″) shorter than your leg circumference. Pin the ends together to form a ring and fit it around your calf or thigh (wherever the hem of the boot will sit). It needs to be snug, because if it’s too loose it will just ride down when you move. Close the ring with a few stitches, then sew it to the inside of the hem.

Like pleather or vinyl, silicone-backed elastic can be hard to sew because the silicone sticks to your machine. Use a no-stick teflon foot, or place silk paper or baking sheet paper under the presser foot. Tear off the paper when you’re done.

Tip: Attach the elastic band with zigzag stitches before you fold over the hem allowance, then hem the boot with a single straight stitch or blind stitches by hand. That way the seams will be less obvious.

Silicone in the hem will work like a charm for tight, stretchy boots. It sticks well to skin, but it has its limits when you’re wearing pantyhose underneath, or when you walk and move a lot on stage.

Snaps and sewing

For a more fail-safe connection, you can button thigh-highs directly to your underwear by sewing on snaps! This will only work with sturdy leg wear like leggings or dancer’s tights, however. Normal tights will snag and rip open.

For Satsuki (Kill la Kill), I attached my thin jersey boot covers to a pair of matte dancer’s tights to help them keep their shape, and stay up during the fight on stage.

Or you can sew the stockings to the pantyhose material by hand. Try on the costume, pull the stockings over your pantyhose, adjust them to make sure they sit symmetrically. Carefully pin them in place along the top edge. Take off the pantyhose with the stockings attached (careful not to stab yourself with the pins!) and sew it on with blind stitches by hand. Keep the fabric stretched while you sew.

On my Summoner Dona (Final Fantasy X-2) costume, I used this method to not only attach the stockings, but also fix the low-cut pantyhose to the panties and secure it all with a silicone-backed elastic band that sits on the hips. Maximum coverage – no wardrobe malfunctions!

Stiff boots

For wider boots that stick out from the leg – like pirate boots with buckets – you’ll need to reinforce the shaft to help it stay up on its own. Sew in a layer of stiff interlining, like buckram (used in millinery and historical costuming), or add strips of lightweight boning inside the seams. The stiff part must not extend over the ankle or knee area, or it will inhibit your movement.

These pirate boots for Warrior Yuna (Final Fantasy X-2) are reinforced with rigilène plastic boning, attached to the base boot and the boot cover seam allowance on the inside.

For overknee pirate boots, you can combine two methods: sew a ring of elastic into the boot right under the knee – just attach it to the seam allowances at two points – and then reinforce only the part above the knee to keep it stiff.

There is no one way that will work for every costume. Combine these methods if needed! Silicone-backed elastic band is my go-to method to make fabric stick to my skin, and I combine it with clever construction. Make sure the garment is tight-fitting, attach it to your underwear or pantyhose, reinforce the fabric to help it keep its shape.

koan cosplay

Enjoy yourself in costume! … And from time to time, look down and check that every piece of your costume is still where you want it to be. No matter how much thought I put into them, my creations seem to have a life of their own!

Read my next tutorial and learn how to make your own boot covers from scratch, turn a plain pair of shoes into gorgeous thigh-high boots, or completely change the color of your boot to match your costume!

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