Dyeing Your Own Shoes

I want cute turquoise shoes. I found a bunch of cute turquoise sandals, but not "shoes." I knew I was going to have to take matters into my own hands.

At first, I planned to get patent leather shoes and spray paint them, remembering one of the Wayward Weekend shares of spray painted shoes. But I just couldn't find a patent pair I really liked.

And then I found these fabric shoes. I was still planning to spray paint them until I remember Jaime dyeing her own pants, so I picked up some teal Rit liquid dye.

I debated dipping them, but then I checked out Rit's website and found this dye-painting shoe project.

First I had to make sure the fabric would work for this. Synthetic fabrics (like polyester) won't take up dye, so I'd need paint of some kind. However, this fabric felt like cotton, so I took the chance--after a test.

First I mixed the dye: I used 4 tsp (or 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) dye in 1 cup of hot (140 degree F) water. Then I tested the dye first in an inconspicuous place: under the toes. You're supposed to set dye with heat, but, um, without talking about why, just trust me when I say that microwaving your shoes is a bad idea. (They still smell really bad...)

Messy! Do this in a sink and rinse well afterwards--use rubber gloves and an apron. And then bleach.
Satisfied that the fabric would take up the dye, I reheated the dye and grabbed a foam brush. Interestingly, there was a lot of variation in the dye color.

I protected the wedge heels with duct tape, which pulled off a little bit of the faux cork finish. The plastic soles did get dyed, but the "cork" wedges didn't soak up the dye.

Cooking my shoes.
I tried to be very liberal with the dye, especially in the knot. There were a few spots where glue or a fabric treatment got on the white fabric that didn't show up until after I'd dyed them. Once they were pretty soaked, I dried them in a 100 degree convection oven with the door cracked for about 5 minutes (then let them sit for a while, and repeated a few times. Yeah. STINK.)

You can see the color variation a little here, as well as some spots where the fabric treatment/glue blocked the dye (along the edge and a spot & line on the side).

And here's the result:

I really like how they turned out--but I still need to rinse out the excess dye. There's a handpainted, almost watercolor effect in the tone variation, which I like (and we'll see if that stays after the rinse). The thread is probably synthetic, and it absorbed the dye differently.

If I don't rinse them, if my feet sweat or my shoes get wet, I'll end up dying my toes (or worse, a carpet!)! Once I get a chance and get them dried again, I'll give you an update on the final color.

What do you think? What color would you dye your shoes?


Laura said...

They look lovely. I had the job back in college of dying shoes at a big chain of bridal stores. It's actually a little challenging to get even color and in those nooks and crannies (around your bow). I may have to keep an eye out for a plain pair to dye.

Just Jaime said...

I like them a lot!

Brave Brooke said...

I love the color they turned out! Great job!

Heather Landry said...

I love the color and I think they are adorable! I had to giggle about the cooking the shoes portion of the project. I can picture my husband coming in and going... Uh OKAY! LOL

Kristen said...

Those shoes are just darling!

Christine said...

I think you picked the PERFECT color!! I LOVE it!

Tracy said...

Great idea, they turned out really good.
I have never dyed shoes before, but I painted some for my daughters Halloween costume.

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