Handmade Wardrobe / Inspiration

DIY dyed canvas shoes

As much as i hate to admit, there are occasions that require sneaker type shoes… and in the past, i’ve been rather ill prepared. So i’ve been slowly trying to add some more practical shoes to my collection.

And as things often go, I had a specific idea of what i wanted in my head, and couldn’t find it. So I DIYed it!

Here’s how:

I started with a very plain pair of canvas shoes from H&M ($7). I dyed them from brand new, because I didn’t want there to be any dirt on them when i dyed them (if you try dying something with a stain or dirt on it, the stained/dirty part won’t dye).

Then I experimented with some scraps of white canvas till i found the perfect colour combo i wanted. I used the RIT formula guide quite a bit to figure out my starting point. Finally I decided on a mix of 1/8 cup of petal pink liquid dye plus 1/16 cup taupe liquid dye, and 2 gallons of boiling water. I soaked the shoes for a good 1/2 hour, then rinsed them well (by hand, then in my washing machine), and air dried. Once dried I replaced the laces with ribbon and I was good to go!

Now, you’re probably wondering about the soles. How are they still white? Well here’s the thing. Some plastics and rubber will take dye and others won’t. I got lucky that this particular sole didn’t hold dye, so stayed white. If you have a shoe thats sole holds dye, you can either let it dye, or you can cover it up in some why to stop the dye seeping in. I would try masking tape, or cover the exposed edge of the sole with kids liquid glue (like Elmars, you know the kind that if you paint it on your hand you can peel it off?), then you should be able to peel it off later.

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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12 years ago

These are way cute, I’ve been hunting for a pair of bright pink ‘boat shoes’. I was thinking I might try to dye a pair! I think the souls turning pink could be really cute also!

I tried to dye a pair of cheap white oxfords brown once. It did not work. They now have a very faint purple tinge instead. :)

12 years ago

I tried washing canvas shoes like that in the machine once and they fell apart. Did you just do a cold rinse?

12 years ago

What a great way to get what you want. I love the colour they turned out. It looks good especially when the rubber sole didn’t hold the colour and stayed white.

I think I might just have to try this so I don’t have to stick with the colours the stores choose.

12 years ago

This is such a great idea. I’m not a huge fan of trainers but being able to make cute colour combinations does tempt me toward them a lot more!

Gina Alton
12 years ago

Fun idea. I was just thinking you could cover the soles in vaseline and just wipe it off when you’re done dyeing the shoes too…I don’t think it would come off in the water. I may have to try this thought, thanks!