Shoes are an apparel item that most people chuck almost immediately after outgrowing a certain style, which is I’m so excited to share this DIY fabric covered shoe tutorial. I gave these flats a makeover after they’d been sitting around for too long, and I’m super excited about the results!
My style tends to shift toward minimal with a focus on pieces that tell a particular story or draw attention. I love combining prints, layering textiles over each other and materials with plush attributes like velvet or embroidered lace. That’s exactly why these made-over shoes are so perfect, I love the lush florals but also that they’re comfortable flats. They aren’t super trendy, they just are.
I originally bought these shoes at a thrift store, attempting to take advantage of the lace-up shoe trend that was so popular a couple years ago. They were originally from Target, but as I figured then, the lace-up shoe trend wasn’t going to happen forever and I wasn’t exactly going to spend a ton of money on it. Then the shoes sat around for awhile as I opted into different trends, and the other day I realized that I kind of hated them. They weren’t very me. I almost tossed them into the “Charity shop/Clothing swap” pile when I realized it would be so easy to change them and probably class them up.
Covering your shoes with fabric is incredibly easy, and takes very few materials. What I love most about it as a concept is that you can take relatively cheap shoes with a good shape and make them look like expensive exciting shoes. I chose to cover my shoes in the scraps of a floral vintage dress that I had upcycled into a jacket a year ago. I loved the fabric so much I kept every last bit of it, so I had plenty to work with. I have to admit, I’ve seen other fabric covered shoe tutorials that I really like and think are fantastic. This older one from Delia Creates is one that I really like and might be helpful for you to check out if you want to cover shoes with sides to them.
I also cut most of the strappy parts off, simplifying the shoe quite a bit. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I wasn’t wearing them before, every time I looked down at my feet I felt like I was being turned into a gladiator. Tragically, when I removed the strappy bits, one of the ankle straps decided to fall off completely and I had to sew it back on before I could continue covering the shoes! Luckily the cheap suede that these shoes were originally constructed out of was easy to sew through using my sewing machine and a needle meant for sewing denim. Still! For moments I feared these shoes wouldn’t happen at all. Luckily, patience, glue, and some scissors, I turned them into something cute and the ankle straps still function! 😀
- Shoes: It helps if they’re already fabric, leather or faux suede. If they’re faux leather use sandpaper to grit them up before you continue as it will help the glue stick to the shoes.
- Fabric glue (I like Aileen’s Tacky Glue)
- Fabric Scissors
- Craft Paint Brush
- Fabric Scraps: It helps if it’s relatively thin, opaque, and not stringy material.
- Prepare your shoes by trimming of parts you don’t like. For me, that meant taking off all the cumbersome straps. If you like your shoes already, you can proceed to step 2.
- Cut pieces of fabric that are larger than the front of your shoe when you wrap the fabric around the toe.
- Using your brush, spread a thin coat of fabric glue over the entire front of your shoe. It dries quickly so you must work fast! Then place your fabric over the glued area, and smooth it down, making sure all creases and cracks are covered. You might have to reapply the glue to the undersides, this is okay, just glue and smooth.
- Trim the excess fabric along the base of the shoe, nice and close to where the upper part reaches the bottom.
- Here’s the hard part: use your scissors (or a razor blade if your scissors are too big) to push the fabric under need the base of the shoe so that the edge is concealed. If your blade ends up perfectly cutting the edges off and you’re left with a smooth edge, that’s ok too, just add some more glue to make sure it doesn’t fray.
- Trim the excess material on the top of the shoe around the opening, leaving about 1 centimeter of fabric. If your shoe has a curved opening like mine, make a cut in the center of the fabric. Glue the excess fabric under the top of the shoe. Make sure to glue excess fabric around the toe as well. 7. Repeat these step on the back of the shoe, making adjustments as necessary based on your shoe design. The back of my shoes have zippers, so I used the natural edges of my dress scraps like the hem for the areas around the zipper to make a clean line. If you’re using new fabric, you can create your own folded “hem” by dabbing a little fabric glue on the fabric, folding it over and pressing it with your fingers or an iron.
That’s basically it! Now you have fabric covered shoes! If you’re feeling really wild you could even embellish them, but I kept mine simple as I like a more minimal look. Have fun wearing your new kicks!