When it comes to top quality leggings, tights, and gloves, We Love Colors makes some of the best I’ve ever used! They even have 50+ colors to choose from! One of my favorite things to do is use leggings or tights as a way to cut down on body makeup for those characters with unnatural skin tones. Even with so many options, though, sometimes you just can’t match your body makeup to your tights straight out of the package. That’s where fabric dye comes in!
- We Love Colors Tights (close in color to your makeup is best)
- Fabric Dye for Synthetic Materials
- Large Stainless Steel Pot
- Large Wooden or Plastic Spoon
- Body Makeup to Color Match
Step 1: Select Dye Colors
You have your tights and you have your makeup. The only problem is the color doesn’t quite match! This happened with my Kimahri Ronso from Final Fantasy X/ X2. The color of the makeup was a slightly different blue than the tights. Luckily, its pretty easy to fix!
The trick is selecting the right color dye to work with the color tights you have. For example, my makeup had a slight purple tint in it while my tights were a more pure blue. In order to match the purple tint of the makeup, I used a RIT Dyemore in both Racing Red and Saphire Blue. It might seem like I would use a purple dye instead (which is a valid option as well) but I personally wanted to control the red:blue ratio going into my dye bath. If I simply use a purple dye, I wouldn’t have been able to control that.
Each situation will be different, so use your best judgement on what dye color(s) to use with your tights. Having an understanding of color theory helps immensely here, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, there are lots of resources online to help you if you look for them!
Step 2: Prepare Dye Bath and Tights
Get your stainless steel pot out and prepare your dye bath! Make sure you use a pot designated ONLY for fabric dying. Its not safe to cook with the same pot you use fabric dye in. With my tights, I only need to very slightly tint them, so I ended up using lukewarm water. If you need a dark color or a more vibrant color, you may need hot water instead. Hot water helps the dye take to the fabric, but it will dye very fast and very strongly with hot water, so use your best judgment and always test it first! A stovetop is the best and easiest way to heat water for dyeing.
Make sure you submerge your tights/leggings/whatever you have in water before dyeing as well! Wet fabric dyes much more evenly than dry fabric.
In order to mix the perfect color of purple to tint my tights with, I used the majority of the bottle of Sapphire Blue and a VERY small amount of Racing Red. The red dye was very strong, so only a small amount of it was needed to achieve the proper purple. I had a second pair of tights I was using as practice, so I used those to test out my dye bath. I had to readjust my color ratio a few times before I was happy with how the color turned out. Remember: the water will make your fabric look darker than it actually is, so be sure to dry your test pieces before deciding if the color is right.
Side note: I started out by using very hot water (close to boiling) and far too much red dye in the beginning. This proved to be a very bad idea since I only wanted to tint the leggings slightly. The hot water and extra red dye cause my tights to dye much too dark and much too purple, so I ended up having to add a lot more water, a lot more blue, and I had to cool the water down before I could get the right tint to my tights.
Step 3: Dye your Fabric For Real
Once you’re happy with your test results, its time to dye your real tights! For my project, I needed lukewarm water, a large amount of blue dye to a small amount of red dye ratio, and I only need to submerge the tights into the dye bath for a few seconds to achieve the color I needed. I dunked them into the dye batch, swirled them around with a plastic spoon for a few seconds and scooped them out. I then rinsed the leggings out in cold water, washed them by hand with dish soap, and let them hang to dry. Your needs may differ from mine, so be sure to test things thoroughly before committing to your real tights. In the end, my tights were a match for my makeup!
Side note: If you don’t want to risk dyeing your hands, wear gloves! Fabric dye can be hard to get out of skin.
- If you need a slight tint, try using lukewarm water and/or less dye.
- If you need a dark or vibrant color, try using warm or hot water and/or more dye.
- Using multiple colors of dye will give you more control over your final color than using only one color of dye.
- How long you leave your tights submerged will also affect how dark or light the color will be.
- You can also start with white and custom dye the entire color rather than tinting some that already have color.
- Wooden or metal spoons, tools will work as well as plastic. Use whatever you have!
- All pots, spoons, etc used for dying should not be used for cooking later. Dye can linger and is not safe for consumption.
Step 4: Cosplay!
I used We Love Colors tights for my legs, plus I use the fabric from another pair to make my gloves. Having the gloves and tights made wearing this cosplay so much easier! No struggling to paint legs or hands! Plus, with a little effort, you can match your tights to ANY shade of makeup just by strategically using some fabric dye!