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How to Decorate and Customize Converse Sneakers

These Converse leather sneakers were hand-studded with a craft knife, needle-nose pliers, and a LOT of patience.

These Converse leather sneakers were hand-studded with a craft knife, needle-nose pliers, and a LOT of patience.

DIY Custom Converse

Converse sneakers are hot again! Every few years their popularity skyrockets, even though they've been around for nearly 100 years already. One of the reasons is that they're so easy to personalize. Sure, you could shell out $70 or more for a pair "customized" at the factory from a limited palette of options. Or you could buy a plain pair on sale and make them completely unique for half the price. Which sounds more fun to you?

The greatest advantage of decorating your own Converse is their material: they are quite literally a canvas for you to decorate and design however you like!

You can also draw on your Converse with a Sharpie or permanent paint pen.

You can also draw on your Converse with a Sharpie or permanent paint pen.

If you've got a Bedazzler or other jeweling tool, you can add gems or studs to your sneakers fairly easily. You can also do it with a craft knife and needle nose pliers if you have patience. If you just want a little sparkle fast, you have other options. You'll need Mod Podge and fine glitter.

How to Add Glitter and Sparkles to Your Converse

  1. Make sure your shoes are clean if they aren't new. Note: Once your shoes are glittered, they will no longer be washable.
  2. Pour some Mod Podge into a small bowl, and add glitter. You should use about a 2:1 ratio of Mod Podge to glitter.
  3. Use a small paintbrush to paint some or all of the canvas on your Cons with glitter. Continue until your shoes are sparkly enough to make you happy!
  4. You can add flat-backed rhinestones to the toe cap with spray adhesive if you need ALL the sparkle.
These gorgeous Chucks are handpainted in wild patterns.

These gorgeous Chucks are handpainted in wild patterns.

How to Paint Your Converse

One of the cheapest ways you can completely transform your converse is with acrylic craft paint. Note: Do NOT use washable paint or your masterpiece will wash away the next time you step in a puddle!

  1. Wash your sneakers if they're dirty, or the paint won't adhere properly and the color won't be true. Make sure they're fully dry before getting started.
  2. Gather your supplies. You'll need acrylic craft paint, brushes of various widths, water to rinse your brushes, and newspaper or a drop cloth to keep your workspace clean.
  3. Decide on your design. If you're a great artist, you may want to paint a fantastic scene or copy a famous work of art. (How amazing would Van Gogh's "Starry Night" be on your All Stars?) If not, try stripes, polka dots, geometric shapes, or an abstract design.
  4. Get started painting! You'll see that the paint sinks in a little, making the canvas stiffer than before, but the shoes will still be comfy.
  5. If you're painting on black, you may need to use a primer or white paint as a base coat. Let your sneakers dry fully between coats.

Add Decorative Laces

Another way to personalize your Chucks is with decorative laces. You can buy laces in any color of the rainbow. Shoelaces also come in different widths and shapes: round or flat, skinny or wide, and even curly ones that you don't have to tie!

How to Make Your Own Decorative Laces

  • You can even make your own special laces. Take a pair of flat white laces and dip dye them in various colors, or paint them with fabric paint.
  • Note: Acrylic craft paint won't work well with the laces because the paint won't absorb well, and could rub off.
  • When I was a kid I braided together multiple strands of embroidery thread like a friendship bracelet and used those as laces. Use what you have around the house, and be creative!
Simply doodling on your sneakers with marker during class can result in fabulous abstract designs.

Simply doodling on your sneakers with marker during class can result in fabulous abstract designs.

More Ideas for Decorating Converse All Stars

You can use several of these techniques at once to truly personalize your Cons. Here are some more ideas:

  • Paint your sneakers first, and then add glitter in a contrasting color.
  • Have friends sign your sneakers with a Sharpie to remember a special occasion.
  • Sew or hot glue ribbon, lace, or rickrack trim to your sneakers.
  • Use tie-dye to drip dye the canvas of your sneakers. If the color is too vibrant, drip a little bleach on for a different effect.
  • Use Inkodye and the power of sunlight to print a photo on your sneakers from a small film negative.


Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on February 13, 2014:

Haha! I love your comment, Paul. Thanks for reading and the flattery.

Paul Fisher from United Kingdom on February 11, 2014:

You kids! Always playing around and showing up the oldies. Some really good ideas in here and personalising anything to be more in tune with your character is brilliant.

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on March 11, 2013:

Thanks, Claudia. It will take a few years before your little niece/nephew will be ready for this, but you could always buy a pair of tiny Converse to fit her/him when he starts walking and personalize them.

Claudia Tello from Mexico on March 08, 2013:

Great ideas for kids!!!! I wish I would have done this one I was a little girl, it would have been so much fun! Maybe I can spend some quality time with my soon to be born nephew/niece doing this once he gets a little bit older. I will keep your hub in mind.

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on December 04, 2012:

Fantastic, afunda! I don't blame you for wanting to keep your new ones pristine, but decorating worn-out or faded ones is a great way to make them feel fresh.

Andrea from Croatia on December 04, 2012:

love your a major Cons fan, sometimes I feel like changing them is sacrilegious. On the other hand, some in my collection are too shabby to wear anymore, and I'll be sure to use some of the things your listed here to renew them :)

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on December 02, 2012:

Hi, Mary. I would love to have more information about Inkodye, but unfortunately I haven't done it myself. I've read several tutorials, and it looks totally awesome, though. Here's a link to one:

The photo would have to be quite small, but it would really be awesome. Let me know how it comes out if you decide to experiment with it!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 02, 2012:

I was wondering about the advice you gave about putting photos on the shoes. I'm not familiar with "inkodye". I wish you had elaborated on that part of the Hub to make photos on the shoes.

Very interesting Hub.

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on December 02, 2012:

Hi, Glimmer Twin. What a lucky daughter you have! When I was a kid, I really had to fight to decorate my Chucks, and even then my mom would only let me use a broken down old pair. I hope you two enjoy!

PracticalMommy: If your son is arty, he'll have so much fun with this. (He may not be interested in the glitter, though!)

Susan: Yes, you can decorate a brand new pair to show off your unique style, or fix up an old pair to get a little more wear out of them if they've started to look scruffy. After all, the soles of Converse almost never wear out!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 02, 2012:

How fun! Great ideas to get more bang for your buck.

Marissa from United States on December 02, 2012:

Great ideas! This gave me an idea for a Christmas present for my son, who is becoming a little artist. And to think people pay extra money for a company to do this!

Voting up, and sharing everywhere!

Claudia Porter on December 02, 2012:

What an awesome idea! Shared, pinned and voted up. I am definitely doing this with my daughter. She got a bunch of Sharpies for her birthday and will probably go to town on a pair of these. Thanks!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on November 30, 2012:

That's surprising, clevercat! Converse fit most people because of the wide rubber sole. I guess people with narrow feet might have trouble, but I've always loved their width. Thanks for reading!

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on November 29, 2012:

I love this! These are great ideas. Too bad Converse shoes have never seemed to fit me.