DIY: Shoes, Dye and Paint

As a Christmas present, I decided to dye and paint a pair of shoes for my sister. I wanted them to match some clothes I bought her for her birthday. I also knew that I liked the Van’s Prison Issue #23 shoe (which I bought from Abbadabba’s), so I bought RIT Fabric Dye and generic fabric paint. The canvas/rubber combination of the shoe served as the perfect setup to add color without loosing the white soles. I started with the buff white / true white shoe, dyed it pink, and painted-on white flowers.


The dying process was very simple. I used the “washing machine” method recommended on RIT’s website:

For maximum convenience, and especially for large items.

1 Fill machine with enough hot water for fabric to move freely. Add liquid or pre-dissolved powder dye; agitate to mix.

2 Wet fabric in hot water. Uncrumple and add to dyebath.

3 Set machine for extended wash cycle by resetting the wash cycle before the rinse cycle begins. (Fabric should be in dyebath for at least 30 minutes before rinse begins.)

4 Rinse in cold water until water runs clear. Wash deep shades in warm water with mild detergent.

5 Dry item in dryer or hang to dry.

6 Clean washing machine using highest water level with hot water, detergent and 1 cup chlorine bleach using complete wash cycle. Clean lint traps. Plastic or rubber machine parts may be tinted but will not stain laundry.

I used an entire packet of powder Rose Pink #7 dye and definitely had enough room in the washing machine for another pair of shoes or several T-shirts. I washed the shoes in the dye for the entire prescribed 30 minutes; I am guessing that I wouldn’t have achieved a more bold pink color by dying them longer. All of the fabric, including the insoles and velcro turned pink.

After drying for several days, I added the white flowers using a very small amount of fabric paint and a small paint brush. The brush had short (1mm), stiff bristles that allowed me to apply the paint onto the canvas. I found I had better resolution by applying several very thin coats of paint; I was almost scraping the paint onto the canvas rather than slathering it on. By being sparse with the paint, the drying process took less than 2 hours.

The finished product looks quite professional from anything more than a foot away. The shoes almost look as if they are made of flower-print fabric. Close up, it is evident that not all of the flowers are the same shape and that they are painted on. For a first attempt at DIY dye and fabric paint, I am quite impressed. This won’t be the last time I try something like this.


2 thoughts on “DIY: Shoes, Dye and Paint

  1. That is priceless!

    Nice job Jason.. For that DIY project, you’ve earned some more free Flexcar t-shirts!

    How many do you need? – Liz, GM Flexcar ATL

    PS.. Will you dye mine pink and paint on flowers? Or possibly batik it with clouds on a light blue background?

  2. i looked at this again to see how mine might turn out : )

    i’m so psyched.

    i’m gonna have a pair of orginal “atwoods.”

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