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Tips & Tricks
As many of you have learned through unfortunate accident, nylon stockings, especially 100% nylon styles, are very delicate. Careful care in wearing, washing and storage can help extend your stockings’ life.
If you’re particularly prone to snags, check your nails (fingers and toes!) for sharp spots and fix them with a file, then add a little lotion to any dry or rough areas of skin. You want to try and reduce the snaggable variables. It is a special kind of infuriating to realise you’ve made a run in your stocking just by putting it on! We used to carry awesome, super smooth gloves for putting on stockings, but they are no longer made so we can no longer offer them. But if you (like me) know you need all the help you can get in preventing snags, even simple satin gloves can help.
Yanking isn’t the nicest way to shove your legs in any sock and for nylon stockings that is especially true. Carefully gathering the stocking up onto your thumbs (the thin nature of nylons makes this pretty easy), gently slip your toes in and ease it up around your heel. From there on out it’s pretty simple, letting the nylon slip from your fingers as it encases your leg. Once your stockings are up, use a careful touch and the pads of your fingers to ease the seam into lining up.
A great tip for encouraging those back seams to line up is putting a dot of sock glue at the back of your heel, sort of anchoring it in place. Since sock glue is water-soluable, if you fear damage to your stockings while removing them, just lightly dampen the area you’ve glued before removing your nylons.
Since it can be hard to check how lined up you are (because twisting to look at the back of your leg twists your leg too, throwing everything off) sit yourself down and use a small mirror on the ground, or in your hand, to check the straightness of that seam.
It’s best to respect the stocking’s fibers and listen to how much they want to stretch. Sometimes a stocking wants to be an OTK, or just hang out in the middle of your thigh, not go all the way up to the top your leg. Pulling hard at the cuff and shortening garter belt suspenders too much will put undue stress on your stockings. Not, like, emotional stress—they are just bits of nylon—but when every fiber is pulled to its max from your toes up your leg, something’s gotta give and it’s going to be the integrity of your stockings.
What about washing and storing? And what if you do get a run? Some more tips and tricks after the jump! Read more »
They can be unsightly, those little balled-up bundles of fibers that build up on your socks. Where there’s wear, pills will happen; common causes are shoes rubbing against socks, where your thighs touch or really any spot that is subjected to abrasion.
Wool and acrylic are especially prone to pilling (though cotton, polyester and nylon like to do it too). Linen and silk are the safest from the perils of pilling. Wool has an advantage, as it is more likely to shed pill build-up. Synthetic fibers are tougher and more stubborn, keeping those pilled bits secure to the fabric. Washing pill-prone items inside out on a short, gentle cycle (or hand washing) helps prevent this kind of wear, but often it is inevitable.
However or whyever there are pills, they’re a problem that you can solve. One of the most common ways is with an electric sweater shaver. Electric sweater shavers are fun and kind of loud (which is also fun). They require batteries and are sort of like a teddy bear’s version of a beard trimmer. A lot of them are even made by the same companies who make electric face razors!
And one of those can bring some freshness back to a tired looking pair of socks or armwarmers, like this pair of Harajuku Arm Warmers. That area between the thumb and fingers gets a lot of wear and shows it.
But all it takes is turning on the sweater shaver and lightly running it over the arm warmer, either while wearing it or laying it flat. The key word here is lightly, just gently brush the shaver across the top. If you’re too rough you could put a hole in whatever you’re sprucing up, particularly if it is a delicate item.
And the pills are gone, turned into easily-disposed of fluff! The softer look of a much loved-and worn item doesn’t disappear, but the pills do. It even does a solid job removing all the pills on the heels of my poor old Extraordinary Thigh Highs, which have had a lot of hard wear.
Electric sweater shavers are definitely rad, but there have to be some non battery powered options out there, right? Tumblr Fairy Zaf prefers the Sweater Stone and I’ll walk you through that technique next. Why don’t you let us know your tips and tricks for removing pills? In looking up information on pilling I saw that some folks use the hook side of Velcro—have you tried it, does that work? I’ve definitely gone the sticky tape route myself.
We took our time bringing in compression socks, because we wanted to offer styles that worked well and were safe. Graduated compression styles have a scientifically designed snugger fit, tighter at the ankles and less as they go up the leg. The way these socks compress muscles, veins and arteries at the feet and ankles increases arterial pressure, encouraging more blood to return to the heart and not pool in the feet. That’s some straight up science!
Even though we love science, none of us are professional scientists (yet!), but luckily the compression brands we carry have plenty of them. Therafirm, Sockwell and CEP are all amazingly designed graduated compression brands, each of them designed for different lifestyle needs. Therafirm’s Preggers styles are graduated compression tights designed to energise and support the tired legs and feet associated with pregnancy. CEP is designed for sports, maximising performance and recovery after competition or working out. Sockwell has socks that maximise fun and health, with gorgeous designs and smartly built socks. Even Dahlgren and Injinji have compression styles with the same smart sports and lifestyle designing that defines their brands.
There’s a trick to putting compression socks on correctly, though. As you might have noticed, compression socks are tight and can be hard to put on. There’s a reason for that. Just yanking them on won’t distribute that smartly designed sock correctly and will prevent the sock from giving you the benefit of proper graduated compression. Plus, for styles with higher compression, it can be unhealthy, since they are designed to be worn with the fabric evenly distributed up the leg. CEP has a fun little video on YouTube showing the basics of putting on compression socks and Therafirm’s Preggers has some great tips on their website for donning compression styles.
This simple little trick just takes a minute or so extra but is worth every second. For folks who prefer a photo reference, we got you covered after the jump!
Sometimes, even if you’re careful about checking the Sizing Tips of a style, the fit isn’t exactly right. You need a little less room in the foot or a little more stretch in the calf.
If you’re a knitter, you’re probably familiar with the ways to get a little more stretch out of a sock. High percentage cotton and wool knits can be manipulated when wet (“blocking”), sneaking out a little more room or tightening up the fibers for a snugger fit. You can’t change the stretch or size of a sock dramatically with blocking, but you can add (or remove) a little extra for a more custom fit.
Whether you’re looking to add some more stretch in the body of the sock or shrink the foot a little, you’ll need a small towel, hot water (Be safe! Wear rubber gloves if you need to and keep the water about the temperature of a hot bath) and a place you can splash a little. And of course you’ll need the socks you’ll be working on. I’ll be showing you the process using O Basics.
If you’re looking to stretch the body of the sock, you’ll also need something to stretch around. Coffee cans are pretty perfect for this, but anything sturdy and round can work. Use a measuring tape and find something that’s just a bit wider around than the sock can stretch now. Or you can go around putting the sock on things to see what just barely fits. That is more fun.
Right now there is a lot of variance in the calf stretch of O Basics, so sneaking a little more stretch out of this style is pretty useful. Wet the area you’ll be working on by dunking the body of the sock into your water. Get it thoroughly wet, somewhere between dripping and just damp. I’m mostly concerned with the calf area, so that’s the only part I’m getting wet.
Now gently but firmly stretch the sock over whatever you’ve picked to stretch it over.
Now you just wait a couple of hours (or longer, depending on how humid where you live is). Once your sock is dry, slide it off and check it out.
Before stretching the body of these O Basics stretched to just barely 16 inches. On the can they were stretched to about 16 and a half inches. Now they stretch to 17 inches! How much you can get out of wet stretching depends on the fiber blend, the colour of the sock (some colours just have no stretch, it’s crazy!), a lot of little variables. But you can almost always get a half inch more. Keep in mind that you’ve reduced the elasticity a bit, so your stretched-out sock may not stay up as well as an un-stretched sock.
Shrinking the Foot
This process is more of a try and try again sort of procedure. You’ll notice that for high cotton content styles like the O Basics we recommend that you “Machine or hand wash in cold to cool water, tumble dry low or hang dry.” If you’ve ever had a pair of high cotton or wool content socks sneak into with a load of bathtowels you know why—they shrink in the heat!
Unlike some of the other DreaM Stockings (like any of the striped “knees” styles), the O Basics have a smaller foot, which we recommend for “Women’s shoe size 5-10, maybe even bigger.” But it’s loose on a size 5, so let’s see if we can make them work better. They’re starting off at about 6.5 inches from toe to heel, unstretched (my measuring was a little more accurate than this picture!).
WARNING: doing this is going to shrink the body of the sock a little too, so if you don’t want to lose any calf stretch, you might be better off using this awesome sewing method we linked to on Pinterest from Little Porcelain Princess.
The first step is just getting the foot thoroughly wet in hot water. Just get the foot wet (and the ankle, if it’s too baggy on you), unless you’re trying to shrink the whole sock.
Now throw it in the dryer on medium, with towels or some other bulky stuff. If you can (although it’s a waste of energy and quarters), dry them with things that aren’t wet or damp, so the body of the sock doesn’t get wet and shrink as much as the foot. As the sock dries the fibers contract. Now the foot is about 6 inches unstretched! Not a huge difference, but it can mean a lot to little toes. We did try getting the foot wet and letting it air dry AND getting the foot wet and putting it in front of a hot air heater, but they didn’t create any noticeable shrinking.
Remember, wet stretching doesn’t totally transform the fit of a sock, it just helps you get that extra perfect fit. Read those Sizing Tips and remember you can always drop us a line for more in-depth sizing info.
Putting on socks and stockings with vertical stripes can be kind of a hassle. You want the stripes to be straight, but it’s hard to keep them that way. It’s a special kind of frustrating to pull on a pair of tights with a vertical design and realise once you look in a mirror that they’re zigging AND zagging, instead of staying on the straight and narrow.
With our helpful assistant, Mrs. Half-Mannequin (“Half” is her maiden name) and a pair of Sheer Vertical Striped Pantyhose, I’ll share a couple tricks to help you guide those stripes. The wonderful Dreamer Zaf of our Tumblr took most of these pictures, since I only have so many hands.
In trying to keep those stripes straight, particularly with tights, sometimes the legs get twisted and that makes it awful up in areas that you really don’t want bunching. So here’s the key: keep the pattern straight from the start.
As you gather up the stocking or tights to slide them on, make sure you’re gathering everything evenly. Keep those stripes in line as you gather, starting from the top of the sock or leg of the tights. If you’re dealing with panels or designs, pay attention to what part is made to go in the front or back. What you’re doing is making sure your tights don’t get twisted.
Okay, now you’re ready to get fancy. Ease your little toes in and carefully put the stockings or tights on. It should be a lot easier now that you’ve essentially “prepped” them to keep their stripes straight. You may need to do a bit of adjusting as you go, but it should be pretty minimal.
Now they’re on! You may find that the toes are a little wonky. This is fine! You were focusing on getting things straight. Just adjust the toe seam to your comfort and pickiness—it’s a lot easier to get tights on straight then adjust the toe than make the toes perfect and try to keep the designs straight.
There, you look fabulous! For a twist you can do just that with socks and stockings (as opposed to tights), purposefully twisting them as you put them on for a new spin on vertical stripes. I think the Fast Lane Knee Highs are particularly well-suited to this.
Do you have any tips or tricks for putting on difficult patterns just right?