DIY: Dyeing stockings to match
This has been a month of nylons, hasn't it? There's something really fantastic about them and how they visually smooth out your skin, making your legs look even more fabulous. Of course, that illusion works best if your stockings are a similar tone as your skin. People come in a lot of different shades, so it is rather frustrating that most companies that make the nylons we sell only offer lighter shades of beige. And some even call the colour “nude”! Which makes no sense and is why we use the word “beige” for those colours. We are constantly telling our suppliers that we want more shades and though we're seeing a teeny bit of forward progress, we just don't know when more than beige will be a regular option.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem dyes their dancers' tights and shoes to match their skin, which creates that classic ballet visual of uninterrupted line. You can see some samples of their work in the picture for this LA Times article. To create the classic visual of nylon stockings that perfectly match and melt into your skin, we can do the same thing. I've gone over some basic dyeing techniques here before, so I know you know how to do it. But which colours? What dye?
For these examples and as a general suggestion, I recommend RIT dye. If you live near a craft store, they've got it, in all the colours. Supermarkets and Wal-Marts also often carry RIT dye and, more often than not, offer all the colours. It's easy to use and not that expensive, plus their site is a great resource, with a Colour Formula Guide to reference once you feel comfortable enough to mix up some magic (and it is magic, there's a warm brown there that is made of their Sunshine Orange and Navy, somehow, so cool!).
Like I said earlier, people come in a lot of different shades and, if you're going to dye-to-match then you'll want to get it just how you want it. I suggest picking up some of the pantyhose that come in an egg and experimenting with those, so mistakes can be made cheaply before you customise stockings you love. For the experiments below I used the Sheer Backseams with Lace Top, though, because hey, we're fancy.
Those gorgeous shades are all straight-from-the-box, no mixing! I'll give you the vitals and some tips after the jump.
First, let's do a couple of tips. You might even want to check out the DIY: Dyeing Nylon post to refresh your memory:
• The more nylon in the stocking's fiber content, the better it will dye. 100% nylon stockings will always take colour better, but 80-90% will do fabulously too. Check the Fiber Content on each product page to make sure the polyester content isn't too high. •
• It doesn't take a lot of dye to colour nylon stockings, and it doesn't take very long to get them as dark as the dye will let them. For the big swatch experiments below I used a half tablespoon of RIT dye powder in a quart and a half of water using the stovetop method and they were fully dyed in five minutes. •
• Remember to really saturate your stockings with water before dyeing. I found that soaking them for at least five minutes in warm water really helped the dye evenly penetrate the fibers. Gently hand-washing them first also makes a big difference. •
• And, as always, be safe and have fun experimenting! •
Now, lets get to the swatches. I used RIT dye's three brown shades on the Sheer Backseams with Lace Top in Beige. Here is what they look like, undyed:
Below are examples of RIT dyes swatched with a half tablespoon of powder dye to a quart and a half of water, using the stove top method for five minutes:
• Cocoa Brown, very warm toned! •
• Dark Brown, cooler toned with some warmer undertones. •
• Tan, very olive-y. I can see this working better as a way to add cooler tones than using it by itself. •
So beautiful! But what if you need a lighter tone than what five minutes gets you? I tried dyeing a stocking in the Cocoa Brown for just one minute and the shade is glorious, but the colour wasn't very even. I, um, also super snagged this one trying to put it on the mannequin leg.
I also tried dip-dyeing one stocking in the Dark Brown, to see how different times played out. Again, it seems like a stocking really needs at least three to five minutes for the colour to be evenly distributed, no matter how well you agitate or pre-wet the stocking.
I then tested putting less dye in the bath, from left to right is 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon Dark Brown in one quart of water, for five minutes:
• Give your stockings at least three to five minutes in the dye bath, for more even coverage. Some of us home-dyers have also had better experiences getting more even tones with the RIT liquid, so if your local shops have that, give it a try. •
• For medium shades, try less dye in the bath instead of less time •
Now, if dyeing isn't your thing, we do have some gorgeous medium and darker toned styles in textures, net and solid, just not in classic sheer stockings. Other than "brown" there are a couple of common colour names used that might help narrow your search.
A nice light-to-medium shade is "mocha", a colour name used across several of our suppliers.
There aren't that many colours in "coffee", but that is the name of the dark brown fishnets from Philippe Matignon.
A darker tone is "espresso", used most often by B.Ella.
Clockwise from top: Roni Dotted Diamond Trouser Socks, Codori Crochet Tights, Alessa Argyle Trouser Socks, Patricia Merino Crochet Tights, B.Ella Doris Crochet Trouser Socks, B.Ella Trentata Trouser Socks.
And the awesome Professional Fishnet Tight with Cotton Sole come in two skin tones that work well with a range of shades lighter and darker than their yarn colour. Light toast is good for fair to medium tones.
And Suntan is kind of pumpkiny, but looks fabulous on medium to darker tones.
Like anything kind of crafty or personalised, we can only show you some options and tell you the basics. If you dye your stockings, please drop us a line or share the results on our Facebook. We love when folks love our socks and we love it even more when they make them their own.
It is super frustrating that more shades aren't available in nylon stockings. Know that we understand how ridiculous it is that more great browns aren't available and that we are doing what we can to offer more.