How to Dye Leather Sandals
I have these phases where I love to shop and then phases where I just hate it. Right now I’m in a shop until I drop phase and it came on in sort of a crazy way… Trying to prepare for my first trip to the Caribbean (oh, my GOSH, that sounds so amazing, doesn’t it? I’ve never been ANYWHERE and we’re just getting right on into it super hardcore, right? :) I’ve been buying all sorts of things I’ve deemed necessary after some online research.
First off, it’s hot. Luckily it isn’t any hotter there than it is here so I’m not worried about that bit of it, but I went ahead and got some new summer duds made from light and breezy materials like linen, some shorts, sundresses, you know the drill… Plus there are the bathing suits and snorkels and rash guards which, by the by, I’m not super stoked about because who wants to go swimming in long sleeves?
Clothes accounted for, there is now the problem of shoes to go with all of my lovely outfits. Rob took me out to the outlet mall in Mercedes, which is amazing, by the way. We go to find shoes, specifically some sport sandals and some black sandals that are comfy to walk in for long jaunts, but I come back with a pair of bright blue Nikes. Erm. Fail. I’m kind of on a walking kick, though, so they’re gonna get used so…
We go back to the outlet mall AGAIN aaand I come back with the most ah-mazing black and white Nike Flyknit Racers that were the “daily special”, or whatever, remind me of the Joker from Batman though Rob tells me it should be Two-Face instead because they are half and half and SO COOL. Gosh. I’m not very good at this am I? But I do wind up getting a pair of super comfy brown sandals great for walking and some sport sandals for our water adventures. At the mall I decide I’m totally cool with accessorizing with brown but back home I’m all, womp, womp, I failed. Again.
Now I have this thing… I don’t buy new clothes without giving away a proportionate amount of my wardrobe to a good cause. Never, ever. So I’m digging around in my closet and I’m sifting through all of the shoes I gotta give away and I find these older G.H. Bass and Co. sandals I got years ago and wore and wore and wore and loved and loved and loved and then forgot about in the back of my closet.
I put them in the giveaway pile, along with my rainbow Sketchers, because I only need so many pairs of sneakers and brown sandals. But then it hits me, I LOVE these sandals. They were perfect for roaming around New Orleans and they’ll be perfect to roam around Puerto Rico, but they’re the wrong color. But luckily, this girl knows all about dyeing leather. Boom! My brown sandals are now my black sandals and they’re going with me on vacation. Huzzah! My world of footwear finally makes sense again! :)
So long story short, wanna learn how to dye leather sandals? Let’s get it.
For this project you will need:
- Leather sandals
- Leather dye (I prefer Fiebings and it comes in a bazillion colors)
- Small, finely bristled paint brush
- Masking tape (optional)
Give your sandals a good once over. Clean the bottoms with a magic eraser, if you’d like, glue down and trim up excess stitching that might have come loose and wash away loose dirt. If your leather is very shiny, a wipe with fingernail polish remover with acetone will help remove that so your dye works better.
First things first, protect your work surface well. This dye is GOOD STUFF and it will dye ANYTHING. Seriously, all caps kind of business. Wear gloves if you have someplace nice to be anytime soon and place a trash bag and newspaper on your work surface, especially for something porous like wood. Now I’m using a piece of poster board on top of a sheet of acetate over my Formica desktop and there was no issue though I literally knocked over the bottle, oops!
Now if you’re good with a paint brush, using small, fine bristled brush gather a dab of dye in the bristles and brush directly your dye directly onto your clean leather.
If you’re not so great I’d strongly suggest using masking tape to protect the soles, heels, insoles, etc. Just get after it and cover it all if it doesn’t need to be dyed and don’t worry about how fancy the job looks. You might wonder why you’d go to the trouble of the insole, but that’s just because since these are sandals portions of the insole will always be visible in certain areas.
Start with the heel of one shoe and move on to the next allowing the first to dry. Switch this way from one shoe to the other to prevent from accidentally transferring the wet dye to other parts of your shoes. Leave anything dangling, like my straps there, for the very end.
When you get into areas where the leather might move as you walk, like here in the toe portion of mine, pull the leather to and fro to make sure you dye it all. It always looks so weird to have your feet swell and then a trace of the hold color showing up where the leather stretches out a bit :)
Once the shoes have been completely dyed and have had an hour or so to dry, take a smooth, clean cloth and buff away any excess dye. Be sure to also go over the interior portions of the shoes where dye might have dripped back there a bit. If you don’t buff away the excess you’ll have some fun stains on your feet once they start sweating!
A quick buff will also make the leather appear bright and new again. Cool, right?
I’m super stoked that I kept these guys because they really are some of my favorites, and now that these sweet sandals of been dyed, they are the perfect black pair for my wardrobe. Crazy craft lady and her humongous craft stash for the win!