If you’re interested in a runDisney race, or another running event that you’re making a costume for, you might want to paint your (affiliate link) running calf sleeves. (For those that don’t know, these little babies are sleeves that slide onto your calves, like foot-less socks. They compress your muscles and lessen soreness the next day. They really work!!) The painting can be done easily, and for very cheap! (I had all my materials from previous projects, so this was free for me!) I’ve met several people that don’t want to alter their sleeves that they already paid $30 for, but since I’m a costume designer, I want to have all elements of the character’s dress present in the costume, but made of running-friendly materials. Since Vanellope VonSchweetz’s tights are a prominent part of her get-up, I simply had to paint my calf sleeves. You can buy the perfect Vanellope Mint Compression sleeves here.
First of all, make sure you know which part of your sleeve is the “front”. Zensah’s logo is centered over a little design in their sleeves, showing you which way to wear them for correct compression. If your design is an all-over one, you can disregard this step.
Slip your running sleeves over a long, tubular shape. It needs to be rather large, or the size of the fattest part of your calf. I have pretty slim legs, so I used a Lysol spray can. It was the perfect height, although I considered stopping by my hardware store and picking up some PVC piping. Make sure the object that you choose is ok to get paint all over and is safe to use. I folded the bottom hem of the Zensah sleeve under the can since I didn’t care to paint that portion.
After the sleeve was positioned, I used white gaff tape to tape off the portion of my sleeve I didn’t want painted. If you are doing a freehand design, such as flames, you may want to try some sticky vinyl from a Cricut or Silhouette. Please be aware that regular masking tape or painter’s tape may not stick to your sleeve. Gaff worked perfectly! (I’m also a theatre person, so gaff is readily available at all times). One leg has a spiral white stripe, and the other a horizontal, thick white stripe with a purple accent.
Blobbing the paint onto the compression sleeve is the best way to go about it. The valleys in the sleeve make it difficult to paint completely unless you really slather on the paint. Also, since the sleeve is designed to wick, be prepared to dab on lots more paint than you anticipated. It gets sucked up over the drying process and more than one coat may be needed. I used white acrylic craft paint suitable for fabric. Post run, the sleeves were hand-washed and line dried. The design was perfectly retained.
Allow the paint to dry COMPLETELY. It took about 1 hour to complete each running calf sleeve. I removed the tape once the sleeves were dry. You will notice that the painted portion of the sleeves keeps the “large” width of the tube, while the rest of the sleeve compresses back into shape. Slip on your sleeve to make sure it fits correctly, breaking a portion of the paint seal if needed. Touch up as you see fit. In my case, the paint didn’t crack at all and was just as comfortable as if the sleeves shipped pre-printed.
As far as the finished design goes, the complete costume was a hit! I had several people give me high fives from the “chEAR” section of the race, and that absolutely made my day. If you create a Vanellope costume, I’d love to see it! Follow my Pinterest board for more runDisney ideas!