What do traditional sleeve garters look like? What kind of material were they made from? And what type of elastic is correct? What did they do prior to the introduction of elastic and when exactly was elastic used for clothing?
I checked several mercantile catalogues and found some entries for garters or sleeve ties.
In the Illustrated and Descriptive Catalogue and Trade Price List of India Rubber and Gutta Percha Goods for Bart & Hickcox
(1860) sleeve ties and armlets were listed in 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 cord sizes. Garter web and frills (I expect these were for women) were listed as plain, striped, plaids and assorted colors in cotton and silk in 3/, 1/2, 5/8/, 3/4, 7/8/ and 1 inch size which were sold by the yard.
In the Catalogue of Foreign and Domestic Fancy Good by Lathrop & Wilkinson
(1859) garters were listed as silk, cotton and kid elastic in fancy styles, as well as silk elastic sleeve bands and silk and cotton elastic frills.
The period elastic used a less stable rubber than what we have today. Pictures of elastic goods in catalogues either pictured or described wide
elastic bandages which looked like our Ace bandages; elastic cloth from 5 to 16 inches wide; shirred or corrugated cloth one wide yard; belt webbing
in 1", 1 1/4", 1 1/2", 1 3/4", and 2" wide; elastic cord in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 strands (strand meant the number of rubber strands per individual
wrapped cord) thick; braids from 1 to 20 strands wide; sleeve ties in 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 strands per cord; garter webs in 3/8", 1/2",
5/8", 3/4", 7/8" and 1" wide and shoulder brace and suspender webs in 1", 1 1/2", and 2" wide. They also had vulcanized thread in 16, 22, 26, 30,
36, 40, 50, and 60 threads to the inch.
ELASTIC - textiles that consist of bands, garters, braces, cords, the warp being made of INDIA RUBBER and the woof being silk, cotton, or worsted
thread. "Encyclopedia of Victorian Needlework" (1882)
ELASTIC WEBBING - a material consisting of INDIA RUBBER covered with cotton, mohair or silk. The rubber was spread out in thin, flat sheets and
machine cut into square threads the thickness of a pin. The width was determined by the number of the fine cords, anywhere from 1 to 16. They
were produced in two lengths, the narrow cords 72 yards and the wider in four pieces of 36 yards each. "Encyclopedia of Victorian Needlework"
Flat elastic fabric were also used for the inserts on the sides of shoes, called "Congress Gaiters" or CONGRESS BOOTS. "Illustrated Descriptive
Catalogue of India Rubber and Gutta Percha" (1860)
From what I can tell the elastic cord is much like elastic cord today that is available in fabric stores. The round elastic cord usually comes in black and white and is probably wrapped polyester. I haven't seen any cotton wrapped elastic cord. Also, the fabric stores have cotton covered elastic, but that is usually flat elastic instead of the round cord.