Friday, June 1, 2012

DIY: Ombre Canvas Shoes with Sharpies

I've been wanting to alter these plain Jane canvas shoes for quite some time, and I've finally found a fun and easy way to add some color. Just in time for summer!

You will need:

  • Canvas shoes
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • A sponge, cotton pad, or dropper (something to drip the rubbing alcohol onto the shoe)
  • Your choice of Sharpies
  • Tester fabric (optional)
  • Newspaper
  • Bowl
Inspect your shoes if they're not new. Make sure they're relatively clean! I had to wash mine. They'll be fine in the washer machine with a couple of old towels. Remove the laces, get your stuff and head outside for this super fun craft! (if not outside, A well ventilated area is cool too)

What colors and fades do you want for your new kicks? I recommend a tester fabric because I found out later on that some colors don't spread at all, and some colors spread into other unexpected colors; although the surprise outcome is part of the fun.

To get colors to fade, color across the shoe with one or two colors, and immediately drip the rubbing alcohol over the color. To do this I poured some rubbing alcohol in a bowl, used the cotton pad to soak some up, and squeezed the pad over the color. The more rubbing alcohol, the more it spreads. You don't want to wait too long to drip the rubbing alcohol, because the sharpie ink could dry permanently. 

~ Color and drip, color and drip... ~

The teal in the middle didn't spread well, so I went back over with a blue that did

A few tips: 
  • If you want to go back over a section, try to wait till it's a little dry at least. If you color on parts still really damp with rubbing alcohol, you'll dry out your marker.
  • If you must and you're impatient like me, then go ahead. When the marker appears like there's no ink coming out, then grab a scrap sheet and color till it's revived.
  • The ink spreads in all directions; experiment with other shapes and patterns if you'd like!
  • goes into greater depth about this technique.
Once you're all done, leave them out to dry over night. Once they're completely dry, the ink will stop spreading. Don't be afraid to go over a few spots if you feel like it! I did a OOTD post earlier with these shoes, if you want more pictures. I think they came out pretty great; I want more!

Let me know if you make these and how they turned out for ya! Hope you liked the tutorial; feel free to post any questions.



  1. This is a fun idea! I was looking for how to dye my white canvas shoes and found this technique very interesting. I think I'll try it on a tank or T. I already bought the blue dye for the shoes and Im set on that. Cotton shoes are a dime a dozen, so Im sure Ill be decorating a pair soon!

    1. Thanks! I've seen it done on tees as an alternative to tie dye effects, but you can really do anything you want that involves fading and blending colors :) I hope your shoes turn out awesome!

  2. What a fun idea! Thank you for sharing it.

  3. aww you're welcome! thanks for checking it out! :D


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