Introduction: Tattoo Tights

About: Art Director and Evil Genius of Urban Threads, an alternative machine and hand embroidery site. Every week I cuss and swear in my studio and macgyver together a new tutorial. You can see all of them in full h…

Got ink?

I’ve always thought tattoos were pretty awesome, but I’ve been too much of a wuss to take the plunge and commit to one design forever. Well, Halloween is starting to creep up on us, and it’s a perfect time to try out a whole new look, and whip up a fast costume. Don’t know what to be this year?

How 'bout some tattooed rockabilly style? No ink commitment required! All we need is a pair of tights and a cool design.

Step 1: What You Need

To make your tattooed tights, you’ll need:
  • An Urban Threads design (or any design) printed at the size you want (I’d advise using our hand embroidery version for the simple linework -- I used our Rockabilly Calavera)
  • Fabric pens
  • Sharpie (for detail - plus I hear Sharpie have fabric markers now!)
  • A large piece of tag board
  • Tape
  • Tights/stockings

If you’re going for the realistic “tattoo” effect, grab a pair of nude tights. If you just want to have some cool pattered tights, grab anything!

Step 2: Prepping the Roll

First, we’re going to construct something to stretch your tights around. A rolled up piece of tag board works great for this.

To minimize a distorted, stretched design, we want to trace our image as close to the stretch of your legs where the design will be. Try to roll the tagboard so it’s roughly the same width around as your leg. When you have it approximated to the right size, tape it in place.

Next, tape your printed design onto your roll.

Step 3: Adding Your Tights

Delicately stretch your tights over the roll, until the area where you want to add your tattoo is over your design.

Be careful! Tights are a lot stretchier than you think. If you’re unsure of where you want your design to be, put the tights on first (all the way! they stretch quite a bit) and mark on your leg with some tape where the design should be. Then, carefully remove your tights without disturbing the tape and position them over the design.

Step 4: Draw!

Begin carefully tracing your design. For the thick, black outline, I used my black fabric marker. I found the tights tended to try and “grab” the marker, so I did a lot of dabbing to make a line. It minimizes snagging and distorting your tights as you work. For smaller, detailed areas, I used a black sharpie.

When your outline is finished, you can go back in with colored fabric markers and add accents or color in your whole design.

Step 5: Carefully Remove Tights

Allow your fabric paints to dry (you can see I didn’t wait long enough!) and then carefully remove your tights from the tube.

Step 6: Done!

Slide your tattooed tights on, pair ‘em with a pair of killer retro heels, and you’re rocking the inked rockabilly look like nobody’s business. It’s a fun, fast, and temporary way of trying out the tattooed look, and it’s a great accent to costumes for the Halloween season. Add a whole bunch or just a key few. You can even slide them over your arms for a fake arm sleeve tat.

Now I can show off my Urban Threads tattoo like anyone else, and best yet, if I decide to change my mind, I just grab a new pair of tights.