How to Recycle Fabric Scraps...into Restyled Shoes!

comments (11) April 10th, 2009     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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What a simple, fun way to give new life to old shoes—fabric decoupage!
Sometimes, you can get a great project out of things you have around the house. (I couldnt bear to toss these fabric scraps I had left over from another craft.)
With a little Fabric Mod Podge, you can seal those scraps to the shoes.
What a simple, fun way to give new life to old shoes—fabric decoupage!

What a simple, fun way to give new life to old shoes—fabric decoupage!

Photo: Katin Imes
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After a recent fabric project, I was left with a pile of tiny scraps—all triangular but much too small to use in any kind of sewing. But I loved how they looked jumbled together, so I started casting about for ways to reuse them. In my closet I found a pair of canvas shoes that have seen better days but need to last one more season. And voila!

What you'll need:

  • Canvas shoes
  • Low-tack painter's tape
  • Fabric Mod Podge (see link below)
  • Fabric scraps
  • Paintbrush, 1 inch or smaller
  • Small dish

You can use any canvas shoe for this project—tennis shoes, espadrilles, ballet flats, etc. Before you begin, remove any laces and run the shoes through the washer and dryer to get them as clean as possible. Don't use any fabric softener—that will prevent the Mod Podge from adhering well to the canvas.

Mask any noncanvas areas of the shoe with tape.

Protect your work surface with some paper. Then mask any noncanvas parts of the shoes with low-tack painter's tape. To pass the tape along a curved edge, you can clip it, as shown, or place lots of small pieces of tape along the curve.

Brush Mod Podge on the canvas, and press fabric scraps into it.


Now to decoupage the fabric scraps onto the shoe. Pour some Fabric Mod Podge into a small dish. Working one section at a time, brush a medium-thick coat of glue onto the shoe. Then lightly press the fabric scraps into the glue one at a time, overlapping them as you like. (This process goes pretty quickly, by the way.)

Brush another coat of Mod Podge over the scraps.

Brush more Mod Podge over the fabric scraps. You want to get them saturated with the glue (especially where they overlap one another), and make sure all the edges are flattened against the shoe.

Repeat this process to cover all the canvas of both shoes.

Remove loose threads with tweezers.

If you're, um, detail-oriented like I am, then you can also remove any stray thread bits with tweezers while the glue is still wet. This photo also shows you how helpful that masking is!

If your shoes have a tongue, apply masking to the back of the eyelets so the pieces won't be glued together.

If your shoes have a tongue, like most tennis shoes, then apply some painter's tape to the back of the eyelets, as shown here. This will prevent the tongue from getting accidentally glued to the eyelets.

Leave the shoes to dry overnight.

Allow the shoes to dry overnight, then remove the masking.

I experimented with adding an extra coat of Mod Podge, which is what I'd do with a paper decoupage project, but I found that this extra coat made the shoes a little too stiff for comfortable wear. So make sure that your first coat is securely adhering all those scraps.

After 72 hours, you can wash these shoes in cold water on the gentle cycle, or spot-clean them by hand. But, according to the manufacturer's website: "Fabric Mod Podge will hold up best on decorative items that don’t have to be washed often." Which is fine if you're just trying to get another season out of an old pair of shoes.

Now, imagine cutting some pretty motifs out of your favorite print fabric and using this technique to customize a tote bag!


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posted in: fabric, shoes, decoupage

Comments (11)

EchoLin writes: cool shoes. i really want to have one.
Posted: 10:42 pm on March 4th
chardonay1234 writes: LOVE THEM!!! I am going to do this for my 8 yr.old :-)
Posted: 8:43 am on October 9th
dea4 writes: What a neat idea.
I have another thing that can be done with white canvas shoes, but isn't necessarily crafty or anything, but thought I'd throw it in here.
My daughter got a pair of white canvas shoes, then carried a bunch of different colored sharpies with her and had her friends and teammates(volleyball team) sign her shoes. She now has a pair of shoes with tons of signatures all over them. Makes an interesting conversation piece when she wears them and it is also a neat keepsake from her teen years.
Posted: 4:19 pm on June 29th
mdorta writes: &&& Super chic & oh so creative. Love it.
Posted: 3:58 pm on December 11th
crafteegyrl writes: I made shoes a bit like these, except I didn't use small scraps...Check them out!

I thought I was pretty original...guess not! LOL!

Thanks, HB
Posted: 4:27 pm on September 18th
paperrain writes: AUGHHGHGHG!!!

Next time I go to Hawaii, I'm taking several pair!
Posted: 7:32 pm on April 22nd
PamHarris writes: Beautiful! Brilliant! Love the idea! And I didn't know there was a fabric mod-podge. Can't wait to get my hands on some of it!
Posted: 11:20 pm on April 11th
Sweet_Dee writes: Gotta try!
Posted: 7:07 pm on April 10th
Edytheanne writes: I am all over this. I think I will make some new shoelaces to go with them and maybe add a few charms at the tail end.
Thanks for the idea.
Posted: 6:03 pm on April 10th
Merit writes: I recently got a pair of denim ballet slipper type shoes from Old Navy, but I kept thinking they just needed a little... something. Thanks for the great idea!
Posted: 5:43 pm on April 10th
theemptynest writes: Sooo cool!! Kids will love these.
Posted: 3:49 pm on April 10th
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