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...

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.



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23 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction

Niceee! I have only one question, does it last if you wash your tights?


7 years ago on Introduction

beautyful legs and shoes!!!...and an excellent instructable too!


7 years ago on Introduction

thanks so much for this instructable! will definitely make a pair just to see how tattoos would look on me, and maybe trick some friends in the process :}

Hey, I know this may sound like harping, but if you use someone else's artwork, buy the pattern or give 'em a couple of bucks at least. It tells them that you appreciate their work.

3 replies

Lol! Don't worry, that IS our artwork. Urban Threads is our website, that's our design. Though I've very with you about posting art that isn't yours. We've had it happen to us, so I'm glad people are looking out for it. Apologies for the confusion.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

What a calm reply! You are a nice person and you make great designs. And apparently you have more than an adequate supply of social grace as well in spite of cussing in private. Great instructable, I forwarded to my wife who I think will really dig the tights/tattoo concept.


7 years ago on Introduction

AWESOME Job! This looks very cool. Being a leg man, I gotta say I see lot's of possibilities with this one :) Great legs by the way. Thanks for sharing.

mary candy

7 years ago on Introduction

I was planing to make it :P
You came first.
By the way ,, it is awesome.
Congrats ;*


7 years ago on Introduction

This is an awesome idea! Not just for Halloween, but there is a certain tattoo I've been wanting for the past year or so, but have been reluctant to get because I'm unsure how it would look on me. Now I can use this technique to finally find out :) Thanks!