DIY dyed shoes

Sometimes, I do crazy things, like dye my suede shoes.

I bought these heels a few years ago, and loved the idea of pink suede shoes. Unfortunately what i didn’t realise at the time, was how close to my skin colour they were! Almost every time i wore them to work someone would say “oh you are wearing shoes! hahaha i thought you were barefoot”. But i couldn’t bear to part with them so i packed them away for a later day.

Recently my friends at RIT dye sent me a huge box of all their different dyes to try out – it’s been so fun playing with them, and experimenting with colours I wouldn’t normally think to use.

Thats when i got inspired to fix these shoes. Since I’ve never dyed suede before, I knew I was taking a huge risk and I wasn’t sure whether it would work, I reconciled myself to the fact that i may ruin the shoes or that the colour may turn out wildly differently than i expected.

I started with Scarlet dye, and made a similar mix with water to what i would if dying clothing.

I stuffed the shoes with paper towels to make sure the dye didn’t run into the shoes

Then I carefully sponged the dyed onto them, trying to make it as even as possible.

After I was done, I used a lot of wet (and some dry) paper towels to try and “rinse” the shoes as best i could, without actually running them under the tap.

Then i left them to dry.

After they dried I covered them with a coat of Scotchguard.

They quite obviously, did not turn out Scarlet red, but I am never the less really thrilled with the pinky colour! I feel like they are so much more wearable now that they are no longer skin coloured! If i did this again, i think i wouldn’t water down the dye quite so much – so that i would get a darker colour!

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  1. says

    Your DIY’s are always so inspiring! Knowing how much you have used RIT dye successfully led me to try a pretty risky over-dye. We bought a used Ikea couch after moving here and the cover was tomato red, with some stains, even after washing the cover. I have some other decorations that are a deeper red so I decided to try to darken it. (And I found a place here that sells RIT dye, which made me so excited!) I used two bottles of the liquid dye in Wine and hoped that it wouldn’t actually turn out the color of Merlot. It turned out even better than I expected! It is a deeper red and it covered the stains. It turned out the perfect shade of red! Thanks for inspiring me to try to fix it with RIT! :)

    • MegMeg says

      WOW that is soooo cool!!!! Good for you!!! You are so brave, and i’m so glad it worked out!! yay!

    • MegMeg says

      hehe yeah me too – i was terrified!!! but half way through i was kind of vested hehe

  2. says

    Your new shoe colour is gorge!
    I agree with Katharine, too afraid to dye shoes but then when I normally wear dark colours I’ve not exactly got a lot of options (!)

  3. Renate says

    Those shoes are spectacular! Love the color. Kudos for jumping into such a fun experiment and making it work. You always come up with such brilliant DIY ideas!

  4. Cassandrs says

    Hey Megan. I bought a used Coach canvas bag on eBay. The bag is in good condition except for it seemed as if the color has faded. I was just thinking about removing the straps and brushing on the the dark blue dye and sponging it off instead of dipping it in a basin of water. The bag is also trimmed in leather. Tell me what you think?

  5. says

    I’m looking for instructions on how to dye a pair of Toms shoes for my flower girl, this is very helpful! Thanks! Since they are canvas I can be a little more flexible with rinsing, but the sponge application method seems like a much better option than the bucket dunk method. I’m going to try it tomorrow!

  6. Marie says


    I’m inspired by you to dye some deep purple suede over-the-knee boots to black, since that will make them eminently more wearable.

    I bought 2 bottles of Rit liquid dye, and would love to know your general feeling about how much to water it down, since you mentioned you mentioned that had you used less water, you may have gotten a darker color.

    I’m also curious if you felt that the coloring changed the texture or softness level of the suede.

    Mine aren’t super-soft, but not stiff either.
    I wouldn’t want them to become “crunchy.”

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and creations out there!

  7. Dawn says

    I just bought a bottle of RIT scarlet liquid dye and am planning to dye an cheap old pair of pink suede mocassins, but although they’re cheap, I don’t want to waste the time or be disappointed in the result. (By the way, their present pink coloring is precisely the final color of Megan’s pumps pictured above; however, I’m going for a darker but still bright red for my mocassins.)

    Do y’all have any tips for me? I’m concerned, as some of the others apparently were, about its resulting suede’s “softness” and the flexibility of the end product. And will I be able to wear my new red shoes in inclement weather?


    • MegMeg says

      Hi Dawn! That sounds like a great project!

      With respect to wearing them in the rain – i’m still not sure what would happen! I’ve worn mine a lot and haven’t had any dye come off – but as yet i haven’t been caught in the rain. But my belief is that drizzles would be fine, but getting thoroughly wet would probably result in red feet :) Also any issues with dye running off will be minimized by only applying the dye to the outside of the shoes (ie not immersing).’

      I honestly didn’t notice my suede lose its softness – but i think that’s because i used a suede brush afterwards – you can also use a soft cloth and by rubbing in circular motion over the suede restore it’s soft feel.

      I really hope that helps!!

  8. Dawn says

    Yes, Meg, your answer does help, but I’ve decided to return the dye and keep the shoes pink!


  9. Jennifer Littrell says

    Just been searching the web for instruction on dying suede and there is not much out there! Found your site and wondered if you could give some advice? I bought a red suede coat for $5 at Goodwill to be used as a Halloween costume for my 10 yr old son. Need to dye it dark Purple (he is going to be the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka!). The red it currently is, is a soft almost pinky red. Since we are looking for a dark purple, Do you think we need to use a purple dye (my mom is afraid we might turn it black) or go with a blue to get the purple? We were going to use the powder rit in the bath tub and just soak it…??
    Thanks for any advice!

  10. Rebecca says

    So you used regular RIT dye on suede and it worked? I have a pair of light pink Uggs that someone gave me. They are toddler sized and very dirty. I tried Ugg cleaner and the color faded in spots and now they look even worse. I was thinking of buying pink RIT dye if it would work.

    • Sabrina says

      Ive dyed my uggs before and there are many tutorials on google about it that are very helpful. I used petal pink i believe and it worked like a charm(:

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