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DIY Lingerie: How to Hand-Dye Your Stockings

Lilac on woolly stockings from Asos (merino wool), Lilac on beige hold- ups, Lilac on 27/4 Charnos stockings, Gold Ochre on 24/7 Charnos stockings, Sky blue on 24/7 Charnos stockings, Sky Blue on Victoria's Secret white stockings.

Today's guest post is by a TLA reader, Katerina. She's a stocking and lingerie freak and loves everything made of silk, cashmere, and merino wool. One day, she'd like to own a cashmere luxury set of big pants and a bra one day. Unfortunately, no one makes this yet. Katerina spends lots of time dyeing garments, learning to sew, knitting, making waldorf dolls and painting on glass and fabric. Her creations usually involve beads, feathers, Svarowski crystals, and portraits of rock musicians. Katerina also hunts for vintage clothes that will match her vintage-inspired lingerie every chance she gets. She has an Etsy store here, and today's she's talking about how to hand-dye your stockings whatever color you'd like.

I'm a notorious hosiery addict and spent many hours hunting for stockings that would be anything but black, white, or nude. Every time I did find some, they usually laddered after one wear, so I'd say it was a waste of time and money. Stockings (and even hold- ups) are especially hard to come by in a variety of colours, and who wants to wear black all the time?

Moreover, not every company actually makes stockings in exciting colours that match your lingerie. I am also a dyeing addict, so I decided I'd try to dye my favourite and affordable stockings and see what happens.

I especially like Charnos 24/7 stockings, because I want stockings that last as I wear them daily. You can also dye wool stockings, silk stockings, and hold- ups.

Cerise on dark grey hold-ups, fishnet hold ups and Gold Ochre on woolly Calzedonia stockings.

What you need:
A good dye. I use Jacquard Acid Dye. For info and instructions, click the link.

This is meant for materials like silk, wool, nylon, and feathers. When you dye properly and follow the instructions, you actually get stockings (and other clothes) that won't bleed when wet or be bad for your health.

Other dyes you can buy in your supermarket, all-purpose dyes, are meant for home dyeing, for a variety of materials (like cotton), so they'll always bleed. There'll always be excess dye. You can always use something that sets the dye, a fixative, but that won't withstand higher temperatures (imagine the heat your body produces) and the dye and the substance used to fix the dye could get into your skin, causing irritation or worse (we don't want anything this aggressive in our body). Also, I never got an even result with any all- purpose dye.

Acid dyes need heat and acid in order to set. They also withstand heat and once they are set, they don't bleed and the colours are lightfast. I mean never bleed. Even when washed on hot. If you want to know more about dyeing (in our case dyeing with acid dyes), read Paula Burch's web site.

Now choose the colour you want. The result will depend on what the original stockings look like (with the same dye, you can get a warmer shade or a colder shade, as you can see below).

Charnos 24/7 stockings (beige) and grey woolly stockings from Calzedonia (sold as over- knees I think) both dyed with Jacquard´s Gold Ochre.

What you need:
• A pair of dyeable stockings (nylon, silk, angora, cashmere, wool). For information on whether your stockings are dyeable with acid dyes, check Paula Burch.
• A large pot. I'd use one you don't use for cooking.
• Vinegar. I use 1/4 cup per quart of water
• Lots of water.
• Rubber gloves
• Something you'll stir the water with that won't damage your stockings.

If you dye silk, be careful not to boil it! Silk is a very durable material unless it's boiled. Then it loses its qualities, and will be less shiny and strong.

If you dye wool, angora, or cashmere, be careful not to expose it to temperature shock. Heat the water with the stockings in it gradually and then let it cool off gradually. If you bang a pair of wool stockings in a pot full of boiling water, you'll end up with baby- sized stockings.

I'd start with a small amount of dye and old stockings, that way you can see if you're brave enough to dye your more expensive ones.

Hand dyed lace top from stocking sewn to cotton stocking.

1. Fill the pot with lukewarm water and add the stockings.
2. Heat gradually. When it's about 30 °C (about 86 °F), take the stockings out and add the dye you've mixed. Don't use the whole jar of dye on a pair of stockings; you don't need alot. I'd say one teaspoon of dye per pair of stockings or even less for a light shade. Add the dye in a plastic container, preferably filtered by means of an old stocking (some colours like magenta can cause small dots on the fabric and we want to prevent that). Also, wear safety glasses and be careful not to inhale the powder as it can be toxic.
3. Stir the dye and then add the stockings. When dyeing wool stockings, don´t let the interval between taking them out of the pot and putting them back be too long, They could shrink --- temperature shock, remember.
4. Keep stirring, be careful not to let all the stockings get tangled all together, if they are twisted, you´ll get a tie- dyed reset. Also, don't use too many stockings at once. The more space they have, the better chance of an even result you get.
5. Keep heating. When the water is close to boiling, add vinegar. This will help the dye set. I use 1/4 cup per quart of water.
6. Let it sit in the solution, while stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes. (When dyeing wool, remember to let the water cool off before taking it out, even a cold container you'd put it into may cause shrinkage!)

If you didn't use too much dye, there will be almost no leftover dye in the fibres. Put it in a sink or a bucket and rinse in hot water (about 60 °C or 140 °F) several times. Cold water won't do, since the dye can only be set by rinsing the stockings in hot water. Be very careful when rinsing --- I'd advise wearing rubber gloves since stockings are very sensitive.

If rinsing woolly stockings, you need to warm the water you'll rinse in gradually. You can rinse it in hot water, don´t get me wrong, but you have to add hotter and hotter water, not bang it in boiling water and rinse. Also, don't rinse too fast ( I'd avoid a washing machine here) as this can cause shrinkage too.

Let it dry and you're done!

Next time you can try dyeing lingerie.

Kiss Me Deadly pull on girdle dyed with Jacquard´s Turquoise. Was pale blue.

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

16 Comments on this post

  1. randy says:

    Have found that Easter egg dye works great on white hosiery you can change it to any color you want also kool aid but never tried that way

  2. Nymph says:

    BTW, they are all a combination of nylon and spandex.

  3. Nymph says:

    This is so exciting! I have to wear compression stockings for medical purposes and I do not wear a lot of black and the nude looks terrible unless they’re sheer. However, I am a bit worried that the heat or the acid will diminish the compression. Do you know anything about that?

    • Michelle says:

      Have you seen the Juzo Soft seasonal colours Nymph? I have to wear medical compression too, and they at least stock a variety of colours eg blues and purples, pinks, greens etc. I would also love to know how to dye plain ones to have more colour options rather than relying on seasonal colours.

  4. Jessica says:

    Glad B pointed out about the Kiki cashmere set- I own it and it’s amazing- a must have for lingerie lovers!
    Thanks for the stocking dye tips- works amazingly for me!

    • Katerina says:

      Really? seemed a bit overpriced to me. I´d like something more vintage- looking. Good to know that somebody makes stuff like that, because it gets really cold here in the winter! ( and I don´t stop waring stockings)

  5. Fiber Artist Flyby says:

    As a fun side-note for people who don’t mind the more limited color selection, if you’re dying nylon or any protein fiber–silk, wool, cashmere, etc,–you can use Kool-Aid to dye them. is a good starting point, and you can search for thousands of other articles.

  6. Thursday says:

    If you’re after an antiqued look, tea dying is an easy, natural way to get a sepia or beige shade. I ordered a pair of tights I thought were off-white, and was dismayed when they turned out to be dazzling white! I soaked them in strong, hot tea for about an hour, rinsed in cold water, and now they are a lovely soft shade of beige:)

    Tea only really works on natural fibres, although the tint is holding up well on this acrylic. I figure I can always re-dye if it washes out too much.

  7. B says:

    It’s happened! Kiki de Montparnasse and then a VS knockoff. Here are the panties
    and there’s a matching bralette

  8. Annie Belle says:

    I hope to manufacture that cashmere set! Someday. Maybe. In like twenty years. But hopefully!

    Thanks for the post!

  9. Elegy says:

    This is great! Particularly since I’ve been planning to dye a pair of stockings I have, since about a month or so ago.

    Two questions:

    First: Did you not use a color stripper prior to dyeing? The stockings I have are a rather generic (and unsuitable) “nude” shade, on the pearlier side and if I don’t have to strip them for the color to take, I’d prefer not to.

    Second: What do you mean by this quote: “Add the dye in a plastic container, preferably filtered by means of an old stocking (some colours like magenta can cause small dots on the fabric and we want to prevent that). ” Do you put the dye in a separate plastic container, wrap that in a disposable, cheaper stocking, tie it off and toss the container in? A picture would help, if you can spare the time.

  10. Taryn says:

    This is such a great post! I’m for sure going to be trying this out soon!!

  11. What a great post! I too am a hosiery fien and would love to try my hand at dyeing! Thanks for the guidance and inspiration!

  12. Amaryllis says:

    Brilliant! I love the colour on that ex-baby-blue girdle, fantastic :) I totally sympathise with the frustation of not being able to get stockings in the right colours – I find there are more colour options with tights, so I’ve a habit of buying interesting tights and cutting the tops off and sewing on some lace tops… I’ve been meaning to dye some stockings for a while though, this is just the push that I need to get going.

    I have to say that I’ve had quite good luck with Dylon cold dyes for silk… but you have to be really religious about the aggitating and the timing. Otherwise you get the uneven tie-dye effect!

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