A Guide to Dyeing Wedding Shoes

Are those bridemaids in a panic over their shoes? Read on to discover an easier way to handle all those wedding shoes blues...

The wedding plans are coming together and there's only one major thing left to do: Locate the shoes and have them dyed-to-match the bridesmaids' dresses. The same can be said for proms, pageants, or any special event requiring a matching ensemble, and the following guidelines will make purchasing and dyeing the items a little less hectic.

Shoe Stores: Many retail shoe centers offer fabric/satin footwear, made specifically for the dyeing process, with purses to match. The cost of these products range from inexpensive to very pricey. The retailer will color the articles too, sometimes charging a fee for the dyeing service, and sometimes not. Although your color choices are limited to pre-measured chart colors, the match should be more than satisfactory. Some shoe stores also dye fabric items not purchased at their location.

Department Stores: These retail centers can be a good choice to visit, because some stores offer premixed dyes, perfectly matching the color of any one particular dress. Although there may be limited dress styles, the dyeing is performed in the store, or you can do them yourself, the ease of having the shoes or purses dyed in this manner saving time and money.

Other than the fabric dyeing kits found in craft stores and grocery stores (such as RIT), this method of dyeing fabric footwear and purses is the only one of its kind offered to the do-it-yourself consumer. Department stores without this particular type of dyeing process offer similar dyeing services as found in the retail shoe store, or may utilize an outside source.

Bridal Shops: Caters to every need of the bride and bridesmaid, proms and pageantry, offering in-house dyeing, or allows the customer to visit a business proffering dyeing services, such as shoe repair shops.

Shoe Repair Shops: On top of dyeing-to-match fabric/satin shoes and purses, either by pre-measured chart colors or by a swatch of fabric from the underside of the dress, some repair centers also sell the shoes and purses. The only drawback to this service is that styles and sizes may be limited, but can be special ordered if given adequate time. The advantage is the shops will charge a low fee for the dyeing process or offer a cost free service, if the items were purchased within the store.

Where ever you choose to purchase the shoes and/or purses to be dyed, try to choose a fabric that resembles the material of the article you're trying to match, and make sure a large piece of swatch material, the same material as that of the shoe or purse, is included with the new items. This will insure a better match. It also helps to know what type of light the items will be seen in, as there are variations in every kind of light source.

What To Expect: Once the articles have been dyed and you revisit the business to retrieve the items, the dye job should be uniform, with no dark rings around the toe or heel area, and the color should match the swatch almost perfectly. The exceptions are when the color isn't dark enough and another coat of dye is needed, or when the fabric of a shoe or purse doesn't agree with the dye used. Rare, but it does happen.

When the items are retrieved, there may be very small, light areas along the sole edge and perhaps around the heel of shoes (this shouldn't happen to purses), and in some instances, light spots may appear anywhere on the items being dyed. These spots are caused by an excess amount of manufacturer's cement, and though it's rare for the markings to occur along any portion of the item except along a seam edge, there's no way to completely remove the adhesive without damaging the fabric. If discovered after dyeing and you're not satisfied, return the item to the retailer.

If the items have been dyed to your satisfaction, it's a good idea to apply a silicone free water repellent spray to their surface. If the shoes or purse become wet for any reason, from drink spills to inclement weather, the color will bleed off the items, perhaps onto your skin or clothing, creating an ugly stain.

Some businesses will offer to alter the color of a dyed fabric/satin shoe, but this isn't a recommended application. The items must be bleached to achieve the desired dyed effect, and the new color being applied will not always match the intended new color. There may be residuals of the original color deep in the pores of the fabric. However, fabric shoes or purses that have been colored once can be re-dyed dark navy or black.

Now that the wedding plans have actually come together, there's only one thing left to do. Let that groom in on the secret....