Na Na, Hey Hey, Don't Kiss Those Nylons Goodbye Just Yet
October 1, 2008 5:23 PM   Subscribe

As most women know, nylon stockings don't last. They run, they snag, they rip, and they can't be mended. And they take 40 to 50 years to decompose in a landfill. I was sure as I began researching this post that there must be some great pantyhose crafting and art ideas out there. But the results were, um, mixed. If you are into weaving, you can make some wall hangings or rugs from nylons. If you're a Klondike Kate type who sews, you can make a skirt. If you work in a corporate environment but want to keep your edge, you can abide by your company's dress code AND sport temporary tattoos. If you're a crafty bride-to-be, you can make flowers or dragonflies for wedding decorations. If you're into the less practical kind of art, you can create semi-wearable pantyhose art, or construct pantyhose art installations like artist Mary Nicollet. You can even make pantyhose dolls, and stick them in a jar if you want to. Just be prepared for the fact that most people will never understand why you'd want to. But beware, because pantyhose arts and crafts are either underexplored or instrinsically strange, and can go from “interesting” or “kind of cute” to “bizarre” and “kind of disturbing” faster than a run can make its way from your thigh to your toes.

Check out's Pantyhose Craft Weeks I, II, III, IV, and V for immortal crafts like the Fantasy Fern from week II (as the Threadbare bloggers helpfully point out, once you've finished making it you can fantasize about having those crafting hours of your life back), and nylon dolls made especially for adults (see week V). Not this adult, but hey, not here to judge. As for me, I think I'll be sticking to the many practical if non-arty ideas I found for reusing nylons, and also try out the great trick I came across for making pantyhose last longer: by sticking them in the freezer. And lastly, I will never again do an image search for “pantyhose art” without first turning on some kind of search filter. Oh my lost innocence...
posted by orange swan (37 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
all of those adjectives also describe someone that looks that far into this;)
posted by femmme at 5:26 PM on October 1, 2008

also, if you find yourself short of cash, you can put them over your head and rob a convenience store. Is there nothing they can't do?
posted by jonmc at 5:29 PM on October 1, 2008 [5 favorites]

Damn, I was going to work a bank robbing reference in there somewhere, but I forgot!
posted by orange swan at 5:32 PM on October 1, 2008

I'm here to help. Now fork over the moolah, sister, this control top contraption is blurring my vision.
posted by jonmc at 5:33 PM on October 1, 2008

If you have a clothes dryer in an apartment with no place to put a vent outlet, pantyhose work great for capturing the vent output.
posted by netbros at 5:34 PM on October 1, 2008

I came across the pantyhose as fan belt trick quite often. My brother, a mechanic, used to joke about how he'd made his wife hand over her stockings a few times while they were on thier way somewhere, and turned a deaf ear to her protests that she had on a brand new pair.

They're separated now.
posted by orange swan at 5:37 PM on October 1, 2008

the stockings or the couple?
posted by jonmc at 5:38 PM on October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin and her stockings are a threat to democracy!
Saltpeter all around, for the good of the country.
posted by caddis at 5:40 PM on October 1, 2008

It always looks to me as though pantyhose would be incredibly uncomfortable to wear (on one's legs). I don't know why, maybe it's because the bank robbers look uncomfortable ;^) But when I've said that to women they tell me they're very comfortable.
posted by XMLicious at 5:45 PM on October 1, 2008

I've always preffered fishnets.

On the ladies. I've never worn them myself. And they'd make an ineffective mask for a robbery. unless of course you were robbing a fishing boat.
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on October 1, 2008

Army secret: stretch out an old pair of your mom's hose when buffing your shoes and they will glow!
posted by furtive at 5:50 PM on October 1, 2008

I'll never forget learning, during a Charles Kuralt interview with some Wyoming cowboys, that cowboys riding the range often wear pantyhose because it prevents jean chafe.

Recently I head someone talking about "the pantyhose divide" - a generational divide in the workplace. It used to be that you absolutely had to wear them - it was considered proper (I can remember my mom sending me to put pantyhose on when I got dressed for a wedding or a job interview without them, as though I had presented myself in a see-through bustier or something). Some women still do wear them daily. But a younger generation of workers has rejected them as a necessity.
posted by Miko at 6:00 PM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

As most women know

This is a bit girlzone-y. It's like you've never heard of men wearing pantyhose. Be sure to click on the pictures for galleries.
posted by stavrogin at 6:01 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

We use pantyhose for a game with kids in the youth group that I work with. Basically it involves putting them over the heads of a couple of competitors and then having them try to eat a banana through the pantyhose. It can actually be done and it is a lot of fun to watch.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:03 PM on October 1, 2008

What, no mention of using them as an emergency radiator belt?
posted by eriko at 6:03 PM on October 1, 2008

Yes, I think Princess Diana had a lot to do with breaking down that rule. She raised eyebrows when she showed up at some event in the 80s with nothing on her legs but her tan, but after that women began kicking stockings. Stocking sales are in decline. I generally only wear them for formal events myself — otherwise it's bare legs in the summer and tights in the winter, because they're warmer and more durable.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 PM on October 1, 2008

SCUBA divers used to wear them under their wetsuits back when wetsuits were harder to get on and off.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:10 PM on October 1, 2008

...faster than a run can make its way from your thigh to your toes.

thats not a run, thats a marathon...
posted by sexyrobot at 6:14 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

As noted, many men in fact do fancy pantyhose

we used to say to women when they put on silk hose: you can run but you can not hide.
posted by Postroad at 6:20 PM on October 1, 2008

I am definitely more a stockings girl than a pantyhose fan. I actually feel underdressed if I am at work in a skirt or dress and don't wear stockings (and I don't know if it is a generational thing, I am in my early thirties).
My husband uses my old stockings for polishing his shoes, they are great supposedly.
posted by Megami at 6:33 PM on October 1, 2008

After the belt snapped on my 91 Ranger, Sharalee's pantyhose got us from El Paso to Dallas on an all-night hell-bent drive through West Texas.

That's about all that she was good for, come to think of it.
posted by bradth27 at 7:33 PM on October 1, 2008

It's not an elegant way to recycle, but rubbing an old pair of pantyhose on a fresh deodorant stain completely removes the white marks. I probably read it in Heloise years ago but I swear it works like a charm.
posted by gatorae at 7:58 PM on October 1, 2008

Panty hose are the devil. I wear silk stockings.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:24 PM on October 1, 2008


At that price, I'll have to stick with the devil I know.
posted by orange swan at 8:28 PM on October 1, 2008

They're very useful for planting orchids. Slit a pantyhose and flatten it. Take the orchid out of the pot, keeping some moss or bark around the roots and use the pantyhose to fasten it to a tree branch (or a thin tree like a palm) by tying it tightly around the root ball & tree branch. Eventually the roots will attach themselves to the tree.
posted by mike3k at 8:39 PM on October 1, 2008

Good for volcanic ash situations. Learned from merelyglib recently, when she told me about the eruption of Mt. Spurr: "stores running out of nylon stockings because people were putting them around their air filters. volcanic ash is SHARP and can do serious damage to internal combustion engines."

A bunch of uses for nylons.

Balled and knotted, they make an excellent pot/dish scrubber.
posted by nickyskye at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2008

Fun post, orange swan. I don't go through full pantyhose the way I used to. When the need arises, I am much more likely to use knee highs or thigh highs. But I applaud the idea of finding ways to re-purpose them rather than just simply trashing them. Here's a a good article with various hints-from-heloise-type suggestions for practical household uses for old pantythose - some are a stretch (ouch), but a few are pretty useful.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:49 PM on October 1, 2008

I used to live in a house with a washing machine in the basement. The wash water drained into a utility sink, which would periodically get plugged up. The plumber who came in to snake the drain clean suggested using nylons to catch the lint before it went down the drain. The great thing was finding of knee-high nylons on sale for a couple of dollars for a dozen. Much cheaper than the plumber!
posted by Araucaria at 9:49 PM on October 1, 2008

"500 Things to Do with Pantyhose... Besides Wear Them!":
"Use pantyhose legs to store onions so they'll keep longer. And no more messy onion peels all over everything! Use a piece of pantyhose with glass cleaner to clean mirrors. No more streaks or paper residue! Fill the foot of a pantyhose leg with ice to use as a cold compress. Fast relief! Keep yarn from unraveling by storing it in pantyhose. Safe from Kitty, too! Use pantyhose to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage. No more broken treasures! Use pantyhose legs to store Legos so the little pieces aren't lost. No more tears! Make potpourri sachets from pantyhose to keep drawers smelling nice."

"Here are bunches of things to do with pantyhose instead of the landfill

* Store old bits of soap.
* Hang mothballs in your closet.
* Fill with lavender and scent your closet
* Use the elastic in the waist to for tying objects
* Tie up plants in the garden
* Strips cut from the waist make good hair scrunchies (really?!)
* Make soft polishing cloths
* Fill with cat litter and clean up accidents
* Stuff toys and pillows
* Strain cans of paint
* Use as a filter on a vacuum cleaner for locating small objects: earrings, contacts, or buttons.
* Clean your fish tank.
* Shine your shoes.
* Keep spare, or used rolls of wallpaper in the legs of old panyhose.
* Remove nail polish.
* Use old pantyhose to hang dry sweaters.
* Store onions in the legs.
* Store flower bulbs in the same way as above.
* Contain soil in houseplants
* Clean your pool
*Make the job of cleaning out your hairbrush a cinch, say the authors of Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things (2007, Reader's Digest), by stretching a piece of pantyhose over and around the bristles of a new or freshly cleaned hairbrush. (You may need to use a comb or bobby pin to push the hose down over the bristles). The next time your brush needs cleaning, lift up and remove the pantyhose layer-plus all the trapped debris on top-and replace it with another strip.3. Protect rolls of wrapping paper by slipping them in tubes made by cutting the leg sections of pairs of pantyhose."
posted by iviken at 2:35 AM on October 2, 2008

As most women know, nylon stockings don't last. They run, they snag, they rip, and they can't be mended.'

Bah, the sulferic acid will make the hoses go 'poof' long b4 your concerns.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:25 AM on October 2, 2008

iviken: as I type it out, it suddenly looks very gross to me, but in college me & a girl-friend used old tights--not quite hose, but close enough--as hair scrunchies all the time. not just the waist bands (as head bands, usually doubled), but the legs too, more like scarves or ribbons. We washed them first, but still, it suddenly sounds gross.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:35 AM on October 2, 2008

That's probably why I had such difficulty coming up with cool ways to use old nylon stockings, crush-on-a-stick. Nylons are just inherently kind of icky. One of my favourite crafting ideas was using them as stuffing for toys and cushions. Because then they'll be out of sight.
posted by orange swan at 6:48 AM on October 2, 2008

I mean, between the texture of them and when you think about where they've been... ewww.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 AM on October 2, 2008

Speaking of repurposing icky garments, we have all seen the redneck halter top by now, yes?

I admire the innovation of reusing these things, but still..yeck. I'm sure you could make great crafts from athletic supporters too, but I really don't want to see them.
posted by emjaybee at 10:26 AM on October 2, 2008

Screen printing
posted by asusu at 5:55 PM on October 2, 2008

orange swan - silk stockings last as long as wool sweaters and if you do damage one, the other one can still be worn.

But if reusing old panty hose makes Heloise happy, I'm happy. I wish she would strangle Martha Stewart with some old panty hose. Heloise can put another pair over Martha's head to keep her eyes from bursting and making a mess.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:31 PM on October 2, 2008

I hadn't seen the redneck halter top before. It made me want to gag, frankly.

Another thought about nylon stocking crafting is the longevity of the finished item. Who would go to all the trouble of making a nylon quilt when it's going to be so likely to get snags and runs?
posted by orange swan at 9:42 AM on October 7, 2008

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