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DIY Polka Dot Shoes

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DIY Polka Dot Shoes

I love my shoes to the extreme. I have two small walls in my apartment that display 20 pairs. Since my studio is only a little over 200 sq ft. (San Francisco housing is rough), you can imagine how much I love my shoes.

Recently I realized that I have a lot of black pumps. Most of them are really cool (chunky-heeled suede, peep toe, vintage with bows, fancy straps) but I had this one pair of closed toe pumps that I never wore. They were perfectly fine, just too plain for my taste. I decided to get rid of them.

But a couple of days later I was at Michael’s and saw a giant display of acrylic paint on sale. Light bulb. Plain shoes + acrylic paint = new awesome shoes!

I wasn’t sure what I was doing since I’ve never painted leather before, but I didn’t care if I somehow ruined the shoes. I’d been planning on getting rid of them anyway. So I took the chance.

Finished shoes on display

And I love them!

What you’ll need

one pair of shoes (any fabric is fine)

acrylic paint (I used Martha Stewart Crafts line of acrylic craft paint)

paint brush

round pounder (optional)

hole punch

stiff paper or plastic sheet


Step 1) Start with clean, dry shoes. Leather is easy because you can just sponge it off and let it dry if you need to.

Step 2) Cut a hole in the stiff paper or plastic sheet with a hole punch. Using this as your template will make your dots all roughly the same size.

Step 3) My shoes were a little beaten up

Damage to shoe

so I used a black sharpie to fill in the most obvious scuffs and scratches. One coat with the sharpie is plenty.

Step 4) Time to start painting. You’ll need to do at least 3 coats of paint, and the brand I used said to let the paint dry for an hour between coats. So get comfortable!

1st coat: To start, I recommend using a round pounder if you have one. It’s easier to avoid pushing the paint beneath the edges of your template. You can do it with a brush, but it will be much slower going.

As I was painting this first coat, my template kept becoming paint-logged. So I changed mine about 3 times to avoid paint smears all over the shoe. But I discovered that sharpie covers up the smears just fine at the end.

Here is the result of coat 1:

First coat

Not so pretty, yet, and the paint is really faint.

2nd coat: I switched to my paint brush. (I used a small brush about a 1/4″ wide with flat bristles.) I didn’t worry too much about staying within the lines. I just tried to flesh out the dot shape.

3rd & 4th coats: I continued to fill in the dot with my paint brush to get the paint as thick/solid as possible.

Result of 4 coats:

Coat 4

Almost there!

Step 5) Finally, I took my sharpie and outlined each dot to clean up the edges.

Polka Dots touched up

And I was done!

Finished shoes on my feet

So much more exciting than plain black pumps, right?


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