Sublimation Print Leggings (also known as Footless Tights) – the Perspective of one Retailer and Consumer


Sublimation Leggings

Sublimation Print Leggings are all the rage and I have a large selection of them on my website (Carrie’s Closet, simply because, I cannot stop buying these fantastic prints!

However, what I feel I need to do is to do a little write up to share my personal perspective on these printed leggings, for the purpose of setting expectations for those who are purchasing these types of prints online. 

My disclaimer:  I am not writing this from the perspective of someone with any experience in the printing industry that has an in-depth knowledge of the processes that create these textiles.  My experience is also limited in owning them, since they are a relatively new trend in my closet.  I am speaking purely from the perspective of someone who wears them and retails them, and the feedback I have received from customers, and…. my own personal feedback.  I have rocked them, and I have heard customers talk about them when trying them on. 

The general, non-technical explanation is that these prints primarily work on synthetic fabrics.  From my perspective, that`s a good thing.  Polyester and other synthetic fabrics wash well and they are affordable, so when these prints eventually go out of fashion, they are a small investment to enjoy until they run their fashion course. 

Also, the polyester goes through the printer relatively flat, so once you "un-flatten" it (i.e., put a body into it) it can become sheer.  My personal recommendation with sublimation leggings is to rock them like tights.  Do not buy this product thinking you can wear them like pants. 

Another rule of thumb with most leggings, not only sublimation, is if you are paying under $20, this rule generally applies.  The leggings that I have wholesaled that would retail in the $10-$20 range are all sheer.  Be aware of that.  The ones that I retail higher than that, on smaller frames, can hide the color of your underwear a lot better.  

The Good

-          Based on my research, the prints are on the most part, permanent. 

-          They are affordable

-          The varieties are endless

-          They are extremely popular right now


What You Need to Know

-          Sublimation leggings can be sheer.  Wear them as tights, not pants  They are often referred to as footless tights.

-          They are rarely perfect, and often have white creases in the print (notice in the image at the top of this article, you can see the seam pretty clearly). However, it is tough to get a perfect pair with no blank spots (or white spots). The positive way to look at it, is almost every pair is original with their built-in flaws

-          I have been careful (and not careful) with washing my sublimation leggings ,and so far so good.  However, don`t push your luck like I have.  Wash in cold and hang to dry.  I have only owned many of them for a year, but the shelf life under my "careless care" is yet to be determined.

-          Most of the footless tights I carry come in one size.  That is not “one size fits all”, it simply means one size.  I have seen women up to a size 8 rock them.  But bear in mind, they are rocking them under shorts, skirts and tunics.  I am a size 8, and you can see my underwear loud and proud under them.  Cover up that butt, and put on some knee high boots and these leggings are awesome!  I can’t stress this enough:  these are not pants.


How to Wear Them

-          Wear them under a tunic with knee-high boots to give your outfit flair

-          Wear under a dress like tights

-          Wear them under booty shorts and short skirts

-          They are certainly not wicking material and appropriate as workout wear.  However, to intimidate other teams with my haute leggings, I have worn them under shorts in a beer league I have played on to show my spirit.  Bear in mind, I am not playing sports in a hard way where I need appropriate sporting gear.  I am more like the mascot in the back row when they need extra players. 


General Comments from friends, browsers at markets and my own comments (in no particular order)

-          These are absolutely wicked!  How do I choose which pair?

-          These are too sheer, you can see my butt!

-          Those tights are awesome, but I can see your butt (to customer checking herself out in front of the mirror happy, and her helpful friend looking at her from behind, slightly concerned)

-          Nice tights, where did you get them (I hear this every week from more than one female when I wear them under my black shorts at SuperJocks in the craziest of colors)


General Research

Here are some quotes directly from Wikipedia on Sublimation Printing on Textiles:

Advantages of dye-sublimation over other methods of textile printing:[1] 

  • Images are permanent and do not peel or fade.
  • Dye does not build up on the fabric.
  • Colors can be extraordinarily brilliant due to the bonding of the dye to the transparent fibers of the synthetic fabric.
  • Truly continuous tones can be achieved that are equivalent to photographs, without the use special techniques such as half-screen printing.
  • The image can be printed all over the entire item, with no difficulty in printing all the way to the edges.




  • The printer speed is low.
  • Any creases in the apparel during printing leave blank spots behind.




In Conclusion

I am not trying to talk you into, our out of Sublimation Printed leggings.  This article is genuinely and sincerely for the purpose of setting expectations of the good and bad of this product. 

In my opinion, I think they are awesome, or I wouldn’t be selling them. 

However, the expectation needs to be set with consumers ordering online that these are to be treated like tights – not pants. If you are looking for a perfect pair with no white spots or creases, then it just makes sense to pay the +$30 for a pair of leggings that use a different print process.

Rock those footless tights and hide that butt!


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  • Carrie Paxson