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Tattoo Tights

Tattoo Tights


Got ink?

This fabulous ink belongs to our digitizer, Danielle. I’m a little jealous, I admit. 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. That’s not to say many other Urban Threadsters haven’t taken the plunge with UT designs, but what if you’re not ready for it just yet?

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.


To make your tattooed tights, you’ll need:

  • A UT design printed at the size you want (I’d advise using the hand embroidery version for the simple linework -- I used the Rockabilly Calavera)
  • Fabric pens
  • Sharpie (for detail)
  • 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!


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.

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.


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. It won’t be quite as color safe as the fabric pen, but since these are pretty much costume tights, I don’t mind.

If you’re looking to make permanent, decorative tights, try to find fine-tipped fabric markers for detail work.

Work your way around the design until you’ve blocked out all the black line work.

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

I just added some basic pops of red and purple. I think my little rockabilly calavera is looking pretty swank... I mean, who wouldn’t in purple shoes?


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


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.


Looking for more ways to wear your favorite art on your skin? Try printable temporary tattoo paper, and add a bit of sparkle a la mirrorandmoon on Craftster. Want to henna-fy an existing image? Check out grimsqueaker's Instructable to see how it's done!


Urban Threads designs can be stitched, and those stitched pieces sold. When using designs in other media, like this tutorial, you’re welcome to make items for personal use, and gifts to family and friends. No sales, please.


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Suggested designs for this tutorial: 
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