Today we bring you a tutorial for transforming tights into gloves, as a handy alternative to body paint. Often referred to as “armsocks” in the cosplay community, these gloves can be a real time-saver when you’re trying to depict supernatural skin tones. With your arms and legs easily matching, all you need to paint is your face, neck, and any of your chest or midriff not covered by your costume.

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These gloves are not for the faint of heart, and we recommend you practice a few times on old pairs of tights, until you get the hang of things. We made a lot of sample pairs before taking to our final green pair, and it definitely smoothed the process along.

Since this tutorial ended up on the long side, we’ve broken it into two parts. This week, Part 1 will focus on prep; come back next week when we dig out our sewing machine for Part 2!

Supplies:
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Tights to match cosplay skin tone
Scrap tights
Fake nails
Matching thread
Contrasting thread
Cardboard
Fabric scissors
Seam ripper
Fray Block or similar
Sewing machine
Hand-sewing needles
Pins
Super glue
Finger-sized pen or dowel
Regular pen

When picking your tights, you’re going to want something nylon, so that it won’t unravel when cut. We found that the Opaque Tights and the Color Tights were pretty much perfect (we used the Opaque Tights in lime for our gloves), but we practiced on some Leg Avenue Striped Tights, and they worked fine, too, so most opaque nylon tights should work. You mainly want something with a tube-style foot, otherwise you’re going to have to cut the whole foot off, and that’ll limit the length of your gloves.

 

1. Make hand template

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In order to make gloves that fit your hands, you’ll want to start by making a template. Trace your hand onto a piece of paper, trying to keep your fingers relatively straight. You're going to want to use this as a base, and trace the shape onto a piece of cardboard. Make sure to keep a little space between your fingers, even if that widens your template a little; you're going to need enough room between each of your fingers so that you’ll be able to sew a few straight stitches, instead of the seams coming together at a point. This will be crucial later, since you’ll need room to snip the seams (otherwise you won’t be able to move your fingers).

 

2. Prep fake nails

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You won’t need these until the very end, but it’s good to start them first, so you don’t get stalled later. If you need to file the nails down to a specific length, or paint them to match the tights (or to match another cosplay design), you want to do this before attaching them. Make sure to give them plenty of time to dry.

 

3. Make neck-hole

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Before you get too far in this project, you want to make sure the tights will be the right length, and the only way to really do this is to try them on! But first, you’ll need a hole for your head. These gloves are meant to be worn over your head; almost like a sheer shrug. Starting at the crotch, use a sharp pair of scissors to cut a few inches up the center seam from the gusset. You won’t need to cut much; it should stretch pretty well. Be sure to apply Fray Block to the new raw edges before you try it on, so that you avoid causing any runs.

Slide the tights on your arms, and then lower them over your head. The cut gusset should be your new neckline, and the waist-band of the tights should sit below your chest. You can adjust the shape of the neckline based on your outfit, but it should naturally create a scoop-neck.

There should be plenty of give in the tights, and you want to be able to move well in these, so you shouldn’t feel constricted. If there’s lots of excess fabric at the ends, you can pin it off and start your gloves lower, but as long as there aren’t any unsightly wrinkles forming, you should be good to go.

 

4. Insert template

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Turn your tights inside out, and cut off the toes. Insert your template gently, with the thumb to the inside of the leg. Be careful not to force the material too much. It should be taut, but you want it to sit smoothly across the template. Leave a little space between the top of the fingers and the raw edge, so you have some wiggle-room when you’re sewing. You’ll trim it down later, but you want some margin for error.

 

5. Baste-stitch around template

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Using a contrasting thread, hand sew a wide baste stitch around the cardboard template. It may be tempting to skip this step, but we found that it not only made it much easier to follow the outline, it also kept the underside of the tights from being pulled or snagged by the sewing machine. Overall, this step will lead to a much cleaner finished cosplay.

And that’s it for today! Move on to Part 2 to finish your gloves!