Updated date:

Spruce Up Old Shoes with Micro Glitter: A Creative Idea for Upcycling

Before and After Photographs

Before (right) and after (left) picture comparing the upcycled glittered shoe to the old, worn-out felted shoe.

Before (right) and after (left) picture comparing the upcycled glittered shoe to the old, worn-out felted shoe.

I saved a pair of good but worn shoes from the landfill and gave them an upgrade in the process

I was editing my closet the other week and found a pair of shoes that are very comfortable and by a good manufacturer. One of my favorite pairs of shoes, actually! But looking at them objectively, part of each of them was looking really quite tatty—a felt-like swoosh that covered almost half of the shoe, but the felting part was wearing off in uneven patches. They weren't even good enough to donate or garage sale.

Discouraged, I put them in the discard pile. Later, my creative brain started working on the problem and I found a way to not just re-cycle or re-use these shoes, but to UP-cycle them. It was an experiment, to be sure, but it worked with excellent results so far.

Another before and after shot of the old felted shoe and the "new" glittered shoe in natural light.

Another before and after shot of the old felted shoe and the "new" glittered shoe in natural light.

The shoe on the right is where I started from in each picture (it looked a lot worse in real life).

And the left one is where I ended up (it shines with understated glamour in real life).

This project would be good for anyone wanting to jazz up their wardrobe a bit, and it's not just for old worn shoes:

• Prom shoes
• Wedding shoes
• Dancing/clubbing shoes
• Radical multi-colored shoes with your distinct tastes
• Shoes that need a change of pace
• Costume shoes and costumes
• Purses
• Works of art designed to hang on the wall, lamp shades (turn a blah Chinese paper lantern into a dazzling shade!)…

There is no limit to the creative possibilities!

Materials and Advice

Materials needed for a project similar to this one:
• Spray adhesive--get very sturdy adhesive: you don't want to leave a trail of glitter everywhere you walk in these shoes!
• Painter’s tape--I used Scotch-bluetm Painter's Tape for Multi-Surfaces. I'm told that the new green tapes is better in many ways, however, so you might want to research that option for your project
• Extra-fine glitter in your choice of color(s). Note: A little glitter goes a VERY long way!
• Hair spray (probably over-engineered, but that’s what I used)
• Possibly a plastic bag or plastic wrap
• A spray booth where you can leave your project to dry overnight without being moved or disturbed by people or pets. I used a small cardboard box with tall sides to (attempt to) contain the adhesive spray and glitter.

One caution before you begin any project like this: the adhesive glue that I used stays somewhat tacky even after it has “dried”. So, any overspray will not be fun to clean up. Make sure that your work area is appropriately covered with newspaper, a painter's tarp, or something else that's disposable.

One more caution: the glitter will get EVERYWHERE no matter how careful you are. If you can do this project in a corner of the garage or basement (assuming the weather is of the correct temperature for the spray adhesive you are using) that will help to contain the mess. Keeping a vacuum cleaner nearby would be a great idea, too.

The Process

Once you have everything you need and a space to work, you are ready to begin.
1. CAREFULLY take the lid off of the extra-fine glitter, making sure not to drop any and making sure that it is away from where you plan to apply the spray adhesive.

2. Cover anything that you don’t want to get sticky and full of glitter with painter’s tape. You might want to use thin disposable gloves, too.

Tip: When I did the second shoe, a few days after the first, I stuffed a plastic bag inside of the shoe and then used painter’s tape to tape it in position. That was easier than trying to mask off the opening with tape alone—quite a bit of glitter had gotten into the first shoe.

3. Mask very carefully to ensure that all and only the parts you want glittery are showing. Don’t forget to tape the bottom of the shoe--this stuff gets everywhere! It took me about an hour to mask off each shoe.

4. Next, I used the spray adhesive per the manufacturer’s instructions, making sure to get some in the small areas.

5. Next, I quickly applied the glitter evenly over all of the un-masked areas of the shoe, making sure to get the small detailed areas as well as the larger areas.

6. Now, the waiting begins. Wait as long as your spray adhesive says to wait before touching your shoe/object.

7. After the glue is dry, shake the object to remove as much loose glitter as possible. Tapping the edge of the shoe on the work surface might help, also.

8. (Probably optional) Out of concern for keeping the glitter in place (shoes take a beating, after all), I sprayed the glittered areas lightly with hair spray, just to further discourage the glitter from falling off. I waited a few seconds for that to dry, then repeated the shaking process: all of the glitter appeared to be fully attached to the shoe.

9. This is the messy step: removing all of the painter’s tape or whatever you used to mask off the non-glittery parts of your shoe/object. Remove the tape carefully and slowly so that you don’t drag along an intentionally glittered area.

10. Shake off any extra glitter again (and use a damp paper towel—or 10—to get the glitter out of the inside of the shoe.

Variations to Try

There are many different ways that you can spruce up worn but still good shoes.

Rather than glitter, you might try the following over part or all of your shoe:

  • Tiny mirrors
  • Lace
  • Ribbon--applied flat, looped, or woven
  • Metallic charms
  • Crystals (for example, Swarovski crystals)
  • Antique metal leaf (gold, copper, silver)
  • Shredded multi-colored threads (think: embroidery leftovers chopped up fine and then scattered over the shoe at random)
  • Flocking (felt-like substance)
  • Spray paint (for leather goods)
  • Colored sand
  • Nail polish--designs made with nail decorating polish/tools
  • Marbeling
  • Use "color changing" shoe polish to make color-block shoes (mask off areas you don't want colored)

Rather than decorating the top of your shoe, decorate the bottom portion of heels (the part that doesn't touch the ground) for flashes of more subtle style:

  • Apply felt, cut carefully to size so that it doesn't show from above
  • Spray paint the bottoms red (fake "rich" shoes)--or any other color
  • Apply any of the techniques listed above for use on the top of your shoe, but use them on the bottom of your shoe instead

Happy Glittering!

Please share your successes/failures here: I would like to hear how your project(s) turn out and I'm sure others would, too. Better yet, write an article about it! Also, if you have any changes to my procedure, please let me know: there may be a much easier way to do this, I’m not Martha Stewart.

Comments

Glitterismyfavoritecolor on November 22, 2017:

Girl, STOP....I was literally about to walk out the door to go to the craft store to buy some spray paint to fix my tarnished jewelry. But I quickly read this and I'm like...Jesus you are on fire! I'm currently selling basically everything I own, because we need the money but also BC I just had a baby and I NEED an outlet. I'm super creative and my brain is already on THIS! I literally have two giant bins full of shoes to get rid of, around 75 pairs of shoes. This...Will be fun. Yay!!!!

lucille12 on April 15, 2015:

When searching for the recommended shoe rack, you will search for an extensive number of options to consider from.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on April 07, 2014:

That would be perfect! Good luck!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on April 07, 2014:

great idea. I may use it to upcycle an old clutch bag that I have.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on September 18, 2013:

Thanks, CraftytotheCore! Glad you liked it!

Next time I want to glitter the bottoms of some high heels RED... Haven't got the right shoes that I'm willing to experiment on yet, but we'll see how many pairs the dog "plays with" in the next few months. (You'd think I'd learn to put wet shoes directly in the tub and shut the bathroom door, but no... LOL)

CraftytotheCore on September 18, 2013:

I was in the shoe store one day and a lady was trying to find a pair of sparkly red shoes for her daughter. She was going to be in a play as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. It was out of season for that style shoe. I almost recommended to her to glitter her own shoes. Very useful info!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on September 12, 2013:

Thank you, everyone, again--especially anyone I missed thanking personally--for your comments, compliments, ideas for additional crafts/upcycling options for shoes (many of which would work for purses, too... :-) ), and for your up-votes and congrats on HOTD. I'm so thankful to have such a supportive community of fellow writers and creative geniuses to expand on ideas in new and different directions. We make one FINE community of creativity and support! Cheers to everyone on HubPages!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 30, 2013:

You're welcome, Appsthatpayyou! (For some reason your comment just today appeared in my Spam comments folder. No idea why it got there or why it took so long, but it wasn't there this morning.) I agree, anything one can do to conserve while maintaining their lifestyle in these harsh economic times is a good thing. Cheers!

Appsthatpayyou from London on April 25, 2013:

REally useful in these economic time. Thanks

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on February 04, 2013:

Good luck, have fun, and keep an eye on that glitter so it doesn't get out of control! :-)

Celeste Wilson on February 04, 2013:

Oh my Mom's shoe rack is in such trouble, because here I come. She has shoes piling out of the doors and I am going to upcylcle a bunch. Thank you for a great idea. Um, I will ask permission first of course, but I think she will be delighted with the results. :0)

Celeste Wilson on February 04, 2013:

Oh my Mom's shoe rack is in such trouble, because here I come. She has shoes piling out of the doors and I am going to upcylcle a bunch. Thank you for a great idea. Um, I will ask permission first of course, but I think she will be delighted with the results. :0)

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 30, 2012:

Thank you so much for the encouragement and praise, Skye! I, too, enjoy reading hub articles. We have such a great knowledgebank amongst us that there's really no end to what we can do, both collectively and individually.

skye2day on July 29, 2012:

Laura girlfriend what a fun idea! I love it. This is a keeper and it does open the door for lots of crafty changes with the glitter and glam. The shoe thing is the best! Your new shoe is happening for 2012! I truly enjoy moving about the hubs and getting nuggets of knowledge from a host of hubbers from all walks of life. Thanks for sharing. You keep going. Always share what is on your heart you will never go wrong. If just one person gets one nugget alleluia. (In regards to your comment to ursularose) God Bless you and yours laura. Skye. voted!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 28, 2012:

Thanks, talfonso! I'll have to make room in the budget for Swarovskis, but I agree: they're the best. Also I love their pearls.

talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on July 28, 2012:

Coating old shoes in glitter sounds like a wonderful idea! Did you know that glitter isn't the only thing that can embellish dumpster-worthy shoes? You can glue rhinestones (glass ones, like the Swarovski crystals, are the most durable and heat-tolerant) on them to make them SPARKLE. Anyway, this idea is cool.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 25, 2012:

Thank you!!!

ariasaragih on July 25, 2012:

Congratulations on your hub of the day

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Oh, I hope you do! What fun! Let us know what you do and how it turns out!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thanks and regards!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

UrsulaRose, you can be my cheerleader any day! Thanks for so many more kind compliments. I was totally blown away by winning HOTD for this--I thought people might think it was silly. Cheers back to you!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Hi, That Grrl! Nice to see you again. I'm sure you'll think of a perfect upcycling project, whether it's shoes or something else. Just let your creativity go wild!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Crystal Tatum--Thanks for your praise and your vote. It certainly does seem like shoes don't last as long. Post a hub or send a picture if you end up "up-cycling" some of your shoes. I have a pair like that---comfy but BORING. I think they're going to get a few tiny chains across the front, but I haven't decided for sure...

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

wordsmith2418--I'm so glad this has inspired you to take a second look at your shoes. You'll walk just a little bit taller in shoes you've "up-scaled". Buttons (one or many), feathers, and blossoms are all in style lately, too, if glitter isn't quite what a particular pair of shoes needs.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thanks, ComfortB! I was totally surprised (in a good way) about getting HOTD on this--I was just enjoying wearing some old favorite shoes again and happy to post a hub about it to share my process. Cheers!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Rosyel Sawali--many thanks! I can't wait to see what ideas you come up with for up-cycling things. I hope you'll post hubs about them.

Thanks and regards, Laura

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

urmilashukla23--Thank's so much for your praises, and I do hope you'll try this or something else creative and post a hub about it. Thanks again!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Fantastic! Great minds think alike, as I've found several people now who have done this type of thing. Keep the creativity coming!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

leni sands, a huge thanks for your support! I can't wait to see/hear how your projects turn out. Please write a hub on it or at least a note here updating us. Here's a thought: colored glitter on the bottom of a high-heeled shoe covering the area that doesn't touch the ground. (There must be an industry name for it.) Or, felt or leather...

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Hey thanks, DeborahNeyens! I really appreciate it. I was TOTALLY surprized I got it, too, though.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

prairieprincess, thanks so much for your compliments and for your votes. So far they seem to be sturdy, too (I'm not leaving a trail of glitter behind me everywhere I walk in these).

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thanks for the votes, Natashalh! I didn't think there was anything messier than glitter until I started working with this micro-glitter. Be cautious! Then again, someone could get carried away doing projects with colored microglitter, so I can't say I'm resenting the vacuuming time. Cheers!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Please do try it! It was so much fun to "save" a favorite pair of shoes.... Now I'm thinking of all kinds of ways of up-cycling things with little effort. I'm sure you'll find a purse or hat or pair of shoes that could use a little jazz, in whatever form you choose to provide it.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thanks much, alphonse george! Have a good night (if you're not already asleep)!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thank you so much, mary615! It didn't take much imagination once I committed to putting a good old pair of on my feet again rather than in a landfill. After all, they'd proven to work solidly in other ways, the fabric part just needed a bit of "polishing". Thanks for voting,too!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thanks Chrissieklinger! I figure we can fill the land with broken things or we can take a second to make them usable again.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thank you so much, tammyswallow! (and it was easy to do, too!)

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Exactly! This way I get the comfort of a favorite pair of shoes and the look of brand new.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Keeley Shea, I'd recommend thinking beyond just glitter, too. One big intricate or simple button on the middle of the toe of the shoe, for example, or a small (quarter-sized) satin flower on the sides of each shoe. Infinite possibilities!

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

I definitely agree. I'm thinking red glitter next time I have a problem like this....

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Moonlake, it sounds like your "old comfortable shoes" were a big hit with everyone, including you. I'm glad you lived close enough to run home for your comfortable shoes, though. Old things get discarded too quickly these days, it seems. Thanks for your congratulations! I certainly had fun doing the project and writing about it.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 21, 2012:

Thanks, Stephanie Hankel! The project actually was very easy to do. The hardest part for me was waiting 24 hours for the glue to be completely dry!

UrsulaRose on July 21, 2012:

Congratulations of receiving the Hub of the Day accolade Laura. (I bet Martha Stewart never got one of these!). Keep coming up with these 'crazy projects of yours' because they are simply fabulous. :)

Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on July 20, 2012:

I'll read just about any upcycling idea. I don't have enough shoes to have old shoes to recycle for this one.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 20, 2012:

You're SURE there was no pun intended? Thanks for the compliments and I look forward to reading your works, too.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 20, 2012:

Thanks, Cyndi10! Especially for folks on a tight budget it's important to think "outside the box" and try new things.

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on July 20, 2012:

What a fantastic idea! Very creative. I always get discouraged when my shoes appear worn so quickly. (They don't make them like the used to!) This is a great option for handling that problem. Voted up.

Veronica Lewis from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania on July 20, 2012:

I like this idea!! I have a couple of pairs of shoes that are really comfortable but not very stylish. I think decorating with an antiquing type or perhaps pewter glitter will look really nice. Thanks for the info!!

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 20, 2012:

Congrats on the HOTD award. I love to upcycle shoes. Love this hub. Voted useful!

Rosyel Sawali from Manila, Philippines on July 20, 2012:

Amazing! Very creative and practical too. I will need to learn to UP-cycle old stuff. Not only will it be fun, it will also save your old stuff esp. if it's a fave one. Thanks for sharing! ^_^

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on July 20, 2012:

Excellent job! Like the idea. Will try. Voted up and congratulations of Hub of he day award!

jellygator from USA on July 20, 2012:

My daughter just did this with a pair of boots and was thrilled with the way they turned out.

Leni Sands from UK on July 20, 2012:

What an absolutely fantastic idea. I love it. So many pairs, so little time - must get cracking....voted up and everything else including sharing on fb, twitter, etc....

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on July 20, 2012:

What a clever idea. Congratulations on Hub of the Day.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on July 20, 2012:

Those look great! What a difference and it really updates the look. Voted up and more!

Natasha from Hawaii on July 20, 2012:

I love it - this is right up my alley! And you're right, gliter gets every where! Voted awesome and useful!

carozy on July 20, 2012:

Creative and fun. I want to try this sometime.

alphonse george from Kerala,India on July 20, 2012:

Love your thought.You are great.Well deserved.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 20, 2012:

Congrats on HOTD. This is such a great idea! You may not be Martha Stewart (I wrote a Hub comparing me to her), but you sure have a good imagination.

I have worked with glitter before and it can be really messy. I used to hate when my kids did a craft project with it! You wrote very good instructions on how to do this project.

I voted this UP, and will share.

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on July 20, 2012:

Awesome idea! Glad to find new ways to keep things out of a landfill as long as possible.

Tammy from North Carolina on July 20, 2012:

So simple but so gorgeous. This is a fabulous idea. Congratulations on your well deserved hub of the day.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on July 20, 2012:

Great idea for our old shoes. And every lady feels better wearing new shoes.

Keeley Shea from Norwich, CT on July 20, 2012:

Great hub! Congrats on hub of the day! How creative. I have to go look in my closet and see what I can do with some of my old shoes that have been sitting there for years! Thanks!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on July 20, 2012:

What a fantastic idea to spruce up a pair of old shoes! Much better than sending them to the landfill!

moonlake from America on July 20, 2012:

Very nice. I bought new shoes for my granddaughter's wedding. Walked right out of the things while walking out of the ceremony had to go back home get a different pair of shoes. Put on some old comfortable shoes from my closet everyone remarked how nice they looked. Sometimes old is better. Took back the brand new shoes to the store and got my money back. Great idea you had they look nice. Congrats on Hub Of The Day.

Graham Gifford from New Hamphire on July 20, 2012:

I, too, loved the statement that you were "editing" your closet. That is such a perfect way to consider your wardrobe and tweak it now and then to give it burst of life. Lately, I have seen several ideas to enhance old shoes, like added sparkle, and I think that is fabulous. Easy, fun, and let's face it, we work hard to spend our money on our clothes and accessaries, why not extend their usefulness and look great! This was a fun hub - thanks for sharing your step-by-step (no pun intended)

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on July 20, 2012:

Hello Laura, Congrats on Hub of the Day. I like to change shoes and bags with add on pearls or those faux craft diamonds. Like your glitter, they add new interest to an old item, or they make a boring item a bit more exciting. Thanks for giving us a great tip. Take care.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 20, 2012:

Congratulations on your hub of the day! This is a really creative idea for renewing and up-cycling old shoes. Your clearly written step-by-step instructions make the project sound easy to do. Nice job!

iefox5 on July 20, 2012:

Very creative and useful tip, will try your idea later.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 15, 2012:

Ardot-- Nope, not genius, it's just that one of my crazy projects actually worked this time. :-)

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on July 15, 2012:

Thanks, Tom! Glad you got the urge to edit your closet... I need that urge more often ;-) besides, while deleting the obsolete items maybe I'll strike cold again.

Ardot from Canada on July 15, 2012:

Genius!

Tom Vogler from The Shenandoah Valley on July 15, 2012:

Nice choice of words in your opening line, that you were "editing" your closet! :-) Now is the time for me to do likewise! :-)

UrsulaRose on July 14, 2012:

You may not be Martha Stewart (the world does not need two anyway) but you are a creative, talented, resourceful and thoughtful person who obviously cares about the world that you live in . Love the 'new' shoes.

It is amazing what can be achieved when people change their perception on giving their 'stuff' a new purpose. I am giving a Mega Thumbs up to a like-minded ReMake UpCycler. :)

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on July 14, 2012:

Nice job, great DIY