How to Decorate Canvas Tennis Shoes

This article shares information on how to decorate canvas tennis shoes.

I am one of those women who likes things that match. I know that isn't a particularly popular thing within the fashion industry these days, but what can I say? I'm a product of the 50's.

My grandmother probably ingrained the concept within me. When I was little she made me dresses with matching purses and hats and then found shoes that coordinated. I liked the look then and I still like it somewhat today.

That's why sometimes I coordinate my canvas tennis shoes to match what I am wearing. If I can't, then I decorate my own shoes to accomplish the same goal. Granted; however, this is mostly for fun and not for fashion itself.

Recently I wrote a how to article entitled "How to Make a Decorative Jacket from a Sweatshirt." In this piece I'm going to explore how to make shoes to match the jacket. Keep in mind; however, that you can also use the same premise with decorative fabric, appliques or even ribbon.

To get started, you will need several things.

These include:

  • A pair of canvas tennis shoes (rubber or other shoe materials will not work);
  • Silk autumn leaves (or fabric/applique substitutes);
  • Permanent fabric glue;
  • Acrylic puff paint;
  • Acrylic glitter paint;
  • Paint brush;
  • Decorative trim;
  • Scissors;
  • Graphite pencil and
  • An iron.

Step 1. Decide on your shoe design. Think about the base color you desire as well as the colors you want to use on the shoe itself.

Don't limit yourself to just adding leaves to the shoes. You can also use other colorfast washable trims like ribbon roses, sequins or flat beading. Just make certain your choices will survive if the shoes become water soaked.

Step 2. Purchase the items needed to complete your shoe design. Most of these can be found at any arts and crafts stores. The shoes themselves, on the other hand, can be purchased at any discount department store.

Step 3. Choose the smallest patterns for your design. Anything too large that must span the curve of the shoe will be difficult to fully adhere. Stick with smaller items that can lie flat against the shoe.

If you are using silk leaves, remove the plastic spine. If necessary, flatten the leaves out fully by pressing them with an iron.

If you are using fabric instead, carefully cut out the patterns you want to use with sharp scissors in order to avoid excess fraying.

Step 4. Lay your design out on the shoe to make certain it will fit. I recommend outlining the finished design with a graphite pencil. Revise the design as necessary until the pattern suits your purposes.

Step 5: Using permanent fabric glue, begin adhering the leaves, fabric, applique or ribbon to the shoe according to the design outlined in Step 4.

Allow the bottom layer of the design to dry thorough before beginning to overlay any additional materials. Before moving on to the next step, make sure everything applied thusfar is fully adhered to the shoe.

Step 6: Using puff paint, outline the raw edges of the leaves or fabric (Note you can skip this step if you are using an applique or ribbon that already has a finished edge). This will provide additional support, making sure whatever you are using is fully adhered to the shoe.

Choose paint colors that compliment or contrast with her leaves, fabric, applique or ribbon. Allow each individual color to dry before moving onto another one.

Make sure the shoe is thoroughly dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 7: Using glitter paint and a paintbrush, apply a thin coating of glitter to those areas on the shoe where it is desired for accent. I don't recommend applying glitter to each leaf, fabric, or ribbon surface. Glitter should only be used as an accent on shoes.

Step 8: Add additional decorative trim to the shoe as desired. For example, use decorative trim (e.g., ribbon or braid) all around the base of the shoe. Add sequins or flat beads as accents to the main pattern. Glue on small ribbon roses for a three dimensional look.

Let your imagination run free and have fun with the design. Just make certain everything you choose is waterproof or can be washed by hand or in the gentle cycle or a washer.

Kids in particular love this decorative shoe idea for holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day or Easter. However, you can have fun with it too; doing as little or as much as you like to accent and have fun with your wardrobe.