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DIY Crafts: Painted Canvas Shoes

I love developing a wide variety of creative DIY projects—everything from fashion to beauty to crafts!

How to make your own painted canvas shoes

How to make your own painted canvas shoes

I saw a photo ages ago on Pinterest of some oxford-style painted shoes and thought to myself, "I could do that!" Since then, I've seen several more styles of painted shoes. One of my friends even commissioned someone to paint a pair, Toy Story style, for her! I suddenly became re-interested.

Then, as if it were my destiny, I found a worthy pair of shoes. They were the last pair left, in my size, plain white canvas, and only $3.50! Thanks, Wet Seal. So now, here's how to paint your own pair of oxfords.

"These shoes suck." - Kelly

"These shoes suck." - Kelly

Step 1: Acquire Shoes and Paint Stuff

There are several types of shoes that will work. If you're going for the oxford style painting, I suggest the kind I bought, with laces and a tongue. I've also seen people paint the Vans-style shoes with no laces, but those kinds are better for other designs.

You can find these kinds of shoes anywhere, really. On Amazon, at Payless, or Wet Seal, like I did. Do some shopping around—you can probably find them the cheapest online.

Really, it doesn't matter what color the shoes are. White is preferable, but if it's not available, don't give up! You can prime over any colored shoe with white paint.

Speaking of paint, you'll need some of it! Obviously. But make sure you get acrylic paint. Acrylic, unlike watercolor or oil paint, is basically made out of pigment and plastic. Once the plastic is dry, the color is set. It won't run or smudge!

You can pick up little bottles of acrylic paint at Walmart, usually under a dollar each. Or, make a trip to Michael's or your local craft store—because along with your paint, you should probably get some brushes. I used one brush, though it would've been much easier with two. For this project, the best kinds of brushes are angled and synthetic. Get a couple of sizes so you can paint the details better!

Step 2: Design and Outline

I did a quick search online to find an oxford design I liked, then tried to copy that design onto my shoes. I used a pen to sketch the design out, but you should definitely use a pencil. Sketch lightly!

Below is a photo of how I did my outline, step by step. Make sure you take out your shoelaces. On either side of the shoelace holes, draw a row of dots. Outline the rows with zigzag trim. Then, add more dots around the seam at the bottom of the shoelaces.

Flip your shoe around and follow the seam on the heel, drawing dots on the inside and zigzags on the outside. Go back to the front and make a big old curly bracket on the toe. Add some dots on the inside and zigzags on the outside.

It's not that difficult, just a bunch of little dots and zigzag trim. Measure your shoes up against each other to make sure you're doing all of the designs evenly. Once you've got that down, it's time to paint!

Whip out those high school geometry skills... They DO come in handy!

Whip out those high school geometry skills... They DO come in handy!

Step 3: Paint Up!

I love mixing colors. I wanted a mint/light teal color, so I mixed up about a tablespoon of white paint with 4 drops of green paint and 2 drops of blue. I love it! If you have a color in mind and need help figuring out how to mix it, consult the omniscient Google.

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Now that it's all mixed, it's time to start painting. I began on the large sections first, just laying down color. I attended to the zigzag and polka-dot details later and applied two coats of paint to each section.

It takes a while to paint, especially with so much detail—so go into this with patience! The reward is a cheap and awesome pair of shoes, though, so I say it's worth it.

I painted and painted away, and I didn't really like my design until I added the finishing touches: the white dots on the toe and the shoelaces. I absolutely love these mint oxford wannabes, and I hope you guys have a fun time making your own!


Other Designs!

There are so many designs out there. Seriously. If you're having trouble figuring out what to do with yours, just look up "painted canvas shoes" and go crazy. I found several designs that I loved—Starry Night, Abbey Road, and even just a simple flowered design.

Don't freak out if you can't decide on a design! The wonderful thing about acrylic paint is that you can paint over it. Once I get tired of my mint oxfords, I plan on priming my shoes white and re-painting another design. Yay, shoes!


nik on March 24, 2015:

Nyc. ...........beautiful idea

kmaskreations on February 24, 2014:

Thanks for sharing this great hub!!! Many years ago, I painted some sneakers for Valentine's Day. Turned out great! Voted up, interesting, useful and beautiful.

MSGolden51 on January 13, 2014:

Thank's for sharing, I wondered if the paint would smudge or bleed. You did a wonderful job on your sneaker project.

Moon Daisy from London on January 10, 2014:

Looks great. I needed this hub last year when I bought some new white trainers (sneakers), decided they were too white, and tried to paint them. I didn't plan out a design, deciding instead to just improvise as I went along, and they looked terrible! Next time I'm in a similar situation I will revisit this hub. :)

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on January 10, 2014:

Very cute!! What a great way to take some simple shoes and add some serious personality! :)

RTalloni on January 10, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your info and design step-by-step. I've started an Arts and Crafts: Painting Shirts 'n Shoes board and this is going there. Finding the canvass shoes I want in the sizes I want has been a problem, but I'm inspired to look for them again now.

Alex Rose (author) from Virginia on January 10, 2014:

Thank you all so much!

Claudia Porter on January 10, 2014:

So glad that this was shared. What an awesome way to jazz up shoes. Loved it. Pinned, tweeted and shared.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 10, 2014:

This would be a fun project for the kids to do in the summer like at camp. Thanks!

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on January 09, 2014:

These are so cute! Great job. Voting up and sharing.

Alex Rose (author) from Virginia on January 09, 2014:

Thanks! It really doesn't leave it stiff unless you do a ton of coats. Two works to completely cover the fabric without leaving the shoes stiff!

I love that it can be personalized, I'm all about character. Have fun making some awesome shoes!

Mackenzie Sage Wright on January 08, 2014:

I've wondered about doing this, I was afraid the acrylic would make the canvas very stiff. But this is a great idea, and what a great way to turn some inexpensive footwear for the kids into something really cute (well, for 4 months until they ruin them or grow out of them, lol). I'm going to give this a try now, you've empowered me. Nice work!