Tights feel like such a wasteful purchase sometimes. They can be so delicate, so easy to snag and rip, so quick to stain and so challenging to wash. And yet they can be so warm and so pretty that you can’t always simply choose not to purchase them!
You can solve some of those problems in some part by choosing high-quality natural materials, of course, but no matter how much you paid for your tights or what they’re made from, you’re probably not going to get a lifetime of wear out of them. Tights are here for a good time, not a long time.
Fortunately, those stained, snagged, or simply outgrown tights don’t have to go into the wastestream! Or rather, they don’t always have to go immediately into the wastestream.
Here’s how to upcycle your old tights in a myriad of ways:
hair ties. These hair ties won’t last as long as ones designed specifically for that purpose, but since you can make them from quite narrow strips, they really are an excellent way to get a little more use out of every last bit of tights. They’re nice and grippy, too, without being rough–I quite like them!
infant headband. Thin nylon tights may not be eco-friendly, but they ARE soft and comfy when upcycled into a baby headband. I wouldn’t normally advocate putting nylon on a baby, but you and I both know the baby’s going to rip this headband off within five minutes, so take your photos quickly!
yarn. Upcycle tights into yarn, then knit or crochet them into something fabulous. This could be an interesting yarn to use when teaching a kid how to finger knit or use a knitting spool.
scrunchie. Don’t know what to knit? I can ALWAYS find you a knitting project! Here, you can learn how to knit old tights into new scrunchies. Scrunchies aren’t as hip as they were a couple of years ago, but my teenager will still wear one to keep her hair out of her face, even if she no longer wears twenty on each arm…
wool tights to fingerless mitts. I hate how gloves and mittens make my fingers clumsy… almost as much as I hate having cold hands! These fingerless mitts, upcycled from wool tights, are an excellent compromise between warm hands and dexterous fingers. Continue tapping away on your phone with ease!
arm warmers. Last year’s thicker fall and winter tights nicely upcycle into this year’s arm warmers! I think that decorative tights with cute prints look especially fun here.
tights to knee socks. This is a great way to upcycle outgrown tights or to refashion them for cooler weather. Embellish them with lace and bows.
shredded tights. Lean into the rips…
melting paint refashion. Here’s a very fun way to refashion an old but wearable pair of tights. They won’t be comfy, but they’ll be memorable!
leg warmers. Leg warmers from old tights couldn’t be easier! My dancer especially loves leg warmers upcycled from thick cotton or wool tights.
footless tights. Piece together old tights to make these pseudo-leggings, perfect to wear under a dress or skirt. To embellish them further, here’s how to add LOTS of ruffles! Make them without ruffles to wear under pants for additional warmth.
underwear. Probably not the most elegant refashion, but isn’t there always a use for a pair of underwear that you wouldn’t be sad to toss instead of wash? This is also an easy way to make some doll underwear when upcycling a small child’s tights.
handwashing station. An old pair of tights is essential for keeping outdoor enthusiasts clean! Nylon is actually the best choice here, since it won’t hold the water.
lampshade. Upcycle a large pair of tights with a super cute print into a lovely translucent lampshade. Use an LED bulb, though, so you don’t catch your house on fire.
mend natural fabric tights. Tights made from thicker fabrics like cotton and wool lend themselves well to mending. Darn holes using a darning loom or patch them with fabric of an identical weight.
wreath. Festive tights make a festive wreath! Kids’ holiday tights, especially, probably won’t fit next year, so are an easy choice to upcycle here.
octopus stuffie. Babies have the best chance of outgrowing their tights before they ruin them. It’s great, then, that baby tights are the perfect size to make this stuffed octopus! I also love the idea of having this keepsake of how tiny your tiny one’s legs once were.
potholder loom loops. This is the gold standard way to upcycle thin polyester tights. I don’t know if I’d actually use them as potholders, ahem, but every potted plant needs something cute to sit on!
Do you have a favorite way to upcycle your old tights? Tell me about it in the Comments!