How to eco print socks

Hi Creative Mamas! I am so excited to share with you a wonderful way to recycle socks! In this post I will show you how to eco print socks using local plants from my dye garden.

eco printed cotton socks using marigold petals

Upcycling and recycling old socks using eco printing and natural dyeing techniques is a great way to give these socks a new lease of life and to make use of plant material that we have around us.

For this tutorial I am using old white cotton socks which I bought as part of my daughter’s uniform but were never used.

I have like 8 pair of these white socks and I decided to upcycle them into special handcrafted gifts for my friends.

I also eco printed an old cotton bag to use as a gift bag as shown in the photo below. They produced beautiful results and they were a great inexpensive gift! You can make your own eco printed gift wrapping by eco printing on paper.

These socks were printed using marigold petals and birch leaves.

eco printed socks and gift bag using

Let me show you a super easy and quick way to eco print your socks!

Recycle socks tutorial using eco printing

Materials and equipment

  • Cotton or wool socks (at least 80% natural fiber)
  • Hemp socks or bamboo socks
  • Leaves and flowers
  • Plastic barrier
  • Steamer
  • String

Mordanting socks for eco printing

The first step is to make sure that you prepare the socks appropriately before eco printing.

If you are working with woolen socks you need to use a mordant for protein fibers. If you are printing on cotton, hemp or bamboo socks you need to use a mordant that is suitable for cellulose fibers.

You can read all about mordants in natural dyeing here and the different types of mordants for eco printing here.

I always use aluminum sulphate for protein fibers and aluminum acetate for cellulose fibers. Read the scouring and mordanting section in this guide and follow the steps to scour and mordant your socks.

white socks ready to be eco printed

Once you have prepared the socks, you need to choose your plant material for printing. I always use a list of 30 leaves and flowers because I know they always work. Make sure you choose your plants from this list.

Download your plant material list

Download the FREE Eco printing plant list by completing the form below!

Eco printing socks

Place your mordanted socks and your chosen plants on your working surface.

mordanted socks on top of a table next to different plant material. hibiscus flowers, oak leaves, marigolds, pansies, birch leaves.

There are many different ways to create prints. In this post I will show you a couple of different ways.

The first way is to place the flowers on the top of the socks as shown in the photo below. I am using marigold and pansies from my dye garden.

eco printing a white pair of socks using marigold and pansies flowers

Fold the bottom half of the sock to cover the top part of the sock. You are sandwiching the flowers in between.

Press firmly.

eco printing a white pair of socks using marigold and pansies flowers . making a  bundle for steaming

Repeat with the other sock. At this stage you will place a plastic barrier and you need to roll the sock into a little bundle. Secure tightly with string.

eco printing another white pair of socks using marigold and pansies flowers

The other way is to spread your leaves or flowers all throughout the length of the sock as shown in the photo below.

eco printing a white sock using marigold petals

Place a plastic barrier and roll the bundle.

placing a  plastic barrier on top of the cotton socks before rolling the bundle

The socks curve so make sure that the bundle is tight and that the plastic doesn’t move.

rolling the socks into a bundle for steaming

Once you have your little individual bundles they are ready to go into a steamer for 60 minutes.

a rolled eco printing bundle before going on the steamer

This is the result of the folded sock with the pansies.

the results of a wet sock which was printed with pansies flowers

And this is the result of the other style of printing (right sock) using the marigold petals.

the results of two wet socks which were printed with pansies flowers and marigold petals

Wash and rinse well and leave to dry. You can also run them through a washing machine cycle.

These are the photos of the end result. I love them and I have to admit that sock printing is quite addictive!

final result of the eco printed socks being worn by me
a photo of the eco printed socks being worn with white pants
a close up photo of the eco printed sock

The socks in the photos below are from another batch that I did while filming the eco printing on fabric course.

I was after a defined leaf print with autumn colors and they came out beautiful!!!

socks which were printed with birch leaves and marigold petals
socks which were printed with birch leaves and marigold petals

I hope you have enjoyed this way of transforming old or unused socks into cozy socks using natural materials. You can now make your own sustainable socks, using natural color!

Check out more eco printing upcycling ideas here!

Two great leaves and flowers that I have personally used when printing socks this past month are sulphur cosmos and oak leaf. They produced beautiful results and they make for a great inexpensive gift!

5 thoughts on “How to eco print socks”

    • Hi Michele sorry about that! I use plastic rubbish bags, I cut them so that they fir my project. I use them and re use them for months. I wash them after every use. I hope this helps 🙂 cheers

    • Hey Monica, good question! What I do is I place one sock on top of the other and then place leaves on the other sides which I then cover with a plastic barrier. so you end up with a bundle that has 2 socks and 3 printing layers. I have a video tutorial of this technique inside the eco printing course. I hope I made sense!!!Cheers


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