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A little while ago I showed you a couple of DIY options for fancying up a pair of socks. What if a pair of tights are almost perfect, but there’s something about the how they fit that doesn’t quite work? We’ve got some options for common fit issues that should bring that almost-there legwear up to par.
Though we try to list as much information as we can in a product’s Sizing Tips, what we can’t convey with words is how something is going to fit your unique shape. Tights are one of the most finicky things to fit and, as they’re not a returnable item because they have a crotch, one of the most frustrating to find have just one little thing wrong with the fit. We’ll go over some of the most common tights fitting problems and the quick and easy solutions we Dreamers no longer hesitate to employ.
They “penguin” (the inseam is too short)
One of the most common problems with fitting tights is when they slide down, creating that ever-so-comfortable and flattering penguin effect. Though some folks (like me) find this happens with styles that have a double-seamed rear, the primary cause is inseam length. If you’re leggier, or curvier and leggier, the manufacturer may not have calculated enough stretch to comfortably encase your legs and just getting tights all the way up, let alone keeping them there, is an infuriating challenge. There is the simplest solution for this: cut off the feet.
They won’t be tights anymore (well, they’ll technically be footless tights) and if they’re a nice pair you may be hesitant—but if it’s not comfortable to wear them, taking the chance means you’ll more likely than not want to rock them instead of letting them languish in the back of a drawer. In our experience, pretty much any style of knit that tights are available in can handle being cut this way except for delicate and sheer nylon styles (the Opaque Tights are heavy enough to be fine), or styles that snag easily.
There are two different foot styles, and so two ways to approach this. With footed tights, like the EG Smith Leg Therapy Tights or anything by MP , you’ll want to cut just above the formed heel. The pair of tights I’m showing you as an example are an MP pair that we no longer carry, I’ve had them for three years and have worn them maybe three times, but as footless tights I know I’m going to wear them a bunch more.
For tube style feet, like the styles offered by Foot Traffic and Leg Avenue, all it takes is a quick cut right above the toe seam. I like longer footless tights and hate hate hate the snug ankle band on most leggings, so taking scissors to a pair of Foot Traffic Combed Cotton Tights makes something I’ll wear much more regularly.
But, you ask, how do they hold up in the wash? Below is how both styles I showed above handle being washed (in the washing machine on cold and in the dryer for maybe too long, because I’m awful with laundry). They hold up great! And now I have two pairs of footless tights that I’ll love to wear, instead of a couple of things I’d forgotten I owned.
More quick DIY solutions for uncomfortable waistbands and what to do if they’re just no good as tights any longer after the jump.
They go up too high or cut in at the waist
Another problem with tights is how generously high the waistband goes up on most styles. The past couple of years we’ve seen a dearth of low-rise options for tights and some styles have waistbands that go up far too high for my taste. Or, if the waistband does fall in an okay spot, it has that “underwear style” flat elastic that digs in. Well the same solution solves both problems, cut it off!
I buy my Erika Microfiber Tights a size too large, because it increases their opacity. But that means that their already high waist goes even higher. I tend to fold them down, but it’s about time I got them sitting where I want. To do this, put the tights on and mark, with chalk or something like an eyeliner pencil, where you want the waist to sit. Remember! Measure twice and cut once. Cut areas of fabric will shrink as they curl, so it’s best to cut less and see how it looks—you can always cut more later. You’ll have to excuse the scribbles, I just could not get a good and clear picture.
But how well do they stay up without the waistband? Depends on your body type, but more often than not tights hug close enough from toes to tops that the waistband only acts as insurance against them creeping down. As with any DIY for fit, you’re altering to create something you’ll actually wear and be comfortable wearing. For me, it’s worth the risk.
They’re just no good as tights any more
Maybe the crotch seam has busted, or the top was snagged, but what to do if you’ve a pair of tights that just don’t do the job as tights any more? It’s time for them to transform into raw-topped thigh highs! This is also a good trick if you’re having trouble finding true thigh highs. All that is needed is to cut the panty section from the legs.
So, just because a pair of tights isn’t rocking your world doesn’t mean you can’t transform them into something that will! Have you modded a pair of tights to your liking?
25 soxy thoughts:
This is such a great post. I’ve been meaning to dissect some tights and make them into new thigh highs for a while now– maybe it’s about time I just DID it..!
Thank you! It was fun to do, even if I really had to hunt in my sock bins to find tights I hadn’t cut the feet off of already. 😉
These are some genius ideas here. I once cut the waistband off a pair of black fishnets because I had enough of them to experiment, and it changed my life. Since I was always using them for layering, they stayed up perfectly over my colored tights, and I got rid of all that extra tight fabric around my middle. Definitely a life-changer!
back to the diy socks – fyi – i cut off my rayon super stripes – – and they ravel badly after washing – although the first wash was a hand wash and they did not but when i threw them into the washer, they came out very raveled.
???? – Brenna do you draw the illustrations – ????
Raubynn…. I’ve never tried cutting my rayon socks but have cut a pair of almost every other dream stocking (except Dreamies because I wouldn’t touch them with scissors unless it really was my last option) and have never had any serious unraveling… was it just after that wash or did it continue?
after machine washing only – not during wearing or hand wash – i tested it again to prove the results: I trimmed off the raveled ends and machine washed and again the raveling…i am chalking this up to the silkiness of the rayon yarn and the brisk aggitation of the washer vs hand washing. actually i think the raveling looks kind of cool – but figured i would put this out there in case anyone was thinking about doing this and doesnt like raveling.
oops – i didnt finish my thought completely – so after the second machine wash experiment, i trimmed the ravels again and wore all day and to sleep in and no raveling….so no ravels except upon machine washing – and maybe if i had put them in a lingerie bag they might not have raveled. but i amstopping my experiment since i dont want to trim any more off especially since the rayon super stripe is showing out of stock. my apologies for not taking any pictures during the process. it was a good bit of fringe – a few inches in some spots…
Great post! I have an off-topic question… Where do you get your nails done?? They are beautiful!
Wow, just yesterday I was thinking I needed to do something about all the tights in my drawer that don’t fit me at the waist anymore -and there’s a lot of really cute ones that I was really sad about not being able to wear anymore. I’m going to try cutting off the waist!! Thanks Brenna! And good job with the illustrations :)!
What about cutting the lower part of tube tights to make arm warmers?
BTW- Your nails are awesome!
As stupid as this sounds, I had never thought of this before. I thought everything would fray, so I just didn’t wear some of my tights.
I think I have a date with a pair of scissors once I get off work tonight!
Raubynn—I did do the drawings myself, thank you! Sometimes it is just easier for me to draw a diagram than to wrangle a shot. And I think you got the nail on the head, the rayon yarn is so slinky that it doesn’t catch against itself to stop the raveling. I’m glad your pair found a good plateau and didn’t go any further.
Lily—Good luck! I was pleasantly surprised at how well the waistband trick does, sometimes the elastic of tights has less dang stretch than the tights themselves.
Jess—Yes! Any sock or tight that can handle being cut can be transformed into arm warmers, since all a basic arm warmer needs to be is a tube. If you’re handy you can even add a thumbhole.
Jenny & Leese—Thank you! I do my nails myself (just my right hand gets that fancy, since I”m left handed), it’s my one super girly hobby.
Eira—It’s understandable! It’s scary to make the first cut in something you spent money on (and that’s why it’s always best to experiment on a pair that won’t break your heart first).
Molly—I missed your comment all the way up there but yay! Fishnets are the best introduction to not being scared of scissors, they’re almost always plentiful and cheap and their waists tend to go waaaaaaaay too high.
I’ve been doing this for years. It just seems like common sense. I’ve also been turning old pants into shorts but it’s great you’re able to help out so many other non crafty people.
Jamie—I’ve been altering and tailoring my clothes for ages too, but not everyone is as naturally daring with scissors and it is always good to know how different raw edges will react in the wash.
The timing of this post could not have been better, because I just came to the site to check your return policy. The (plus size!) Foot Traffic Combed Cotton Tights I just got from you don’t fit right around the waist–and I was so careful to read all the reviews!
I’m psyched about making them into thigh highs now–or maybe even arm warmers, thanks for that idea from a commenter.
Thanks for the awesome post and perfect timing!
I see SOOO many tights that have such cute patterns, but I HATE tights. I wasn’t aware I could just chop them and wear them with one of my garter belts 😀 i’m super excited to try this.
L—Tights are such a pain to fit! I’m glad we were able to time it just right for you.
Wolf—I agree on that! For some reason being confined from my toes ALL the way up is too much, I wear things so much more once I’ve cut the feet off (they’re cuter and layer better than long underwear too!).
It’s great to find this posting! Have to tell you- I do love tights and have found SockDreams purchases to be most comfortable I’ve ever tried.
The Foot Traffic diamond bamboo and space dye cotton tights are really just right for me- the covered waistband is especially nice- even after one of them went through the dryer!.The waistband of their combed cotton wasn’t, so I cut the elastic down (just in the front at first to try) to just above the seam. Just right now and no fraying.
I just got my new order and the wool sweater tights are really comfortable over the Erica microfiber. The legs are too long though and about 4″ want to hang off the toes. I’m thinking of taking them to my serger since they have tube feet. Any hints about that? If I try to shrink them, I don’t want them to shrink in the width.
And those microfiber tights I got last year are amazingly comfortable and they don’t snag! I admit that when my leg had a surprise meeting with the car door, I was first concerned for the tights. Even though I had a little scrape on my shin, the tights did not show a mark!
Other DIY ideas-I’ve had tights with stretched out waist that didn’t stay up, I stretched and sewed in a 4″ piece of elastic on the back of waist. I tend to have the crotch seams rip out too soon- I’ve sewn in a gusset of a piece of interlock cotton and that worked well for one pair. I’m not sure if I’d like garters- although that would be a lot easier!
Thank you for encouraging us to alter even tights, and to be creative.
Rebecca—Aw, yay! We’re big fans of making things one’s own and not being scared of scissors! The trick with the elastic to tighten up a loose waistband is smart, I’ll have to keep it in mind for sure.
I turn my old tights into tops–an old trick learned in ballet school. Cut off the feet, and cut out the crotch. This part tends to stretch a lot, so be conservative, try it on a few times, and adjust the neckline as necessary.
The tops are great under leotards and camisols, for warmth and extra bra support. They add a bit of modesty under low-cut layers. They are also really handy when you don’t have time to shave.
I have tops made with long sleeves, short sleeves, and tank style. I also like to cut the back lower than the front.
Holy…moly…the Holy Grail…
I am (about to get hated) 5’10” and weigh 128 lbs. I have tried every size of footed tight and none goes up without the eloquently named “penguin effect.” This…is…BRILLIANT!!
Not to mention, socks are usually stretched so tightly on my feet that I wear holes in them quite quickly.
I bet with a smidge of ingenuity, you could actually turn the toe area of a tube-style tight into a stirrup so you still ensure full coverage!! Just cut the toe across then cut a little hole on the back half for your heel, right? Still gain a lot of length but know they won’t rise up.
I can usually bring those high waistbands all the way up to my boobs and they rest right under or over the bottom of my bra, so I hadn’t really thought about it . Now–how is THAT on a shorter person?! Any idea WHY they go so high? It seems like it had a design purpose in the 50’s or something like that…
There’s a beautiful pair of sheer wool tights I have from here that ripped right under the butt from being stretched out and I’ve been clinging to and never realised it was because THIS post would appear, and the voice in the sky would say, “turn them into thigh-highs”. You just rocked my world. What better to do on a Sunday than salvage…psh, hundreds of dollars of things I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) wear? My heros!!
@FanofmyDesign, YAY!! We always hope that we can give folks useful info and my goal is to make folks less scared of modifying their socks and tights. And yes, you can make your own stirrups, a good tutorial is here at The Coveted. If you’re doing it with tube-style tights, just put them on, so you can see where your heel hits. Have a great crafty weekend, I’m so stoked you found this DIY!