DIY Saddle Shoes Tutorial

September 18, 2018Allison Murray
Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don’t want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!
Shoes have always, always been my thing and when I first started this blog I even made over one cheap pair of shoes a week in my “Shoesday Tuesday” feature. The very first ever Shoesday was the very first iteration of this DIY Saddle Shoes tutorial and it did really, really well. In fact, it kind of put my little 2-month old blog on the map, you could say. Way back 6 years and almost 6 months ago I said that shoes would always be my thing for 3 important reasons…

  1. Because if I gain weight or lose weight, my shoes always fit.
  2. For some reason, you can get away with crazy shoes and still be considered respectable.
  3. Trends come and go, but classics will always be classics.

 

Standing the test of time, these 3 bullet points are still valid in my life today :) But over time my crafty methods have changed a bit and I’ve got a LOT more experience under my belt making things on the regular… like 77 more months experience making things. And the way I did it back then worked out okay, but the way I do things today make a little bit more sense as far as durability goes. Now this isn’t such a big deal if you’re making your own pair of cheap saddle shoes to rock out at a costume party with a poodle skirt, but if you’re actually going to insert these cuties into your wardrobe and wear them regularly, well, making them with color that sticks around is kind of important.

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Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Back in the day (April 18, 2012, to be exact), I used a Sharpie brand fabric marker and this project was quick and simple. Like with pretty much all of the shoes I made back then, because I was making a pair a week and her closet is MUCH bigger than mine, I gave them to my sister. And just a few months of wear later, she had worn the saddle bits right off of the shoes. I remember seeing them in the shoe bin as I walked in the front door and going, “are those the saddle shoes?” Yep. They were. And the areas that had been black were suddenly such a light gray you almost didn’t see the contrast. 

So today we’re using paint and to save some $$$ we aren’t even going to use fabric paint because it can be kind of expensive depending on the size you purchase and because if you don’t paint a lot of fabric that’s just a waste of money. But by using paint instead of a fabric marker, we’re going to create some kicks that you can kick around in for ages before that color goes ANYWHERE. In fact you’re far more likely to mess up your white bits than ever wear off the color like my sis did back in the day.

This year, as I was making my umpteenth pair of saddle shoes in plain ol’ black something clicked in my head… why do they have to be black? And so I made 2 pairs in 2018… a black and white pair and a bright ass pink pair that make me crazy happy :) So grab your favorite color of paint (or a color that will match your poodle skirt) and let’s hop on this and make some cheap saddle shoes, shall we?

Make a pair of DIY Saddle Shoes for as little as $6.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

For this project you will need:

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

First up you’ll need to snag a pair of white sneakers similar to the ones above. These days I’m straight up about Keds and the original Keds Champion are the same style as the shoes above. If I were making these for regular wear, I’d go with the more expensive shoes because I’m getting old and getting old sucks and my feet hurt all the freaking time :) But since these are just occasional the black and white pair came from Walmart for about $6 and the pink and white pair came from Target for about $10. 

There are some major differences in the 2 cheap pairs I got. First up the Walmart pair are nice and white but the padding in them is the pits. Like, my feet hurt after less than an hour in them. The next pair I got were from Target and the white is really blue, which you can’t really tell in the photos, but side by side the Walmart pair actually looks white and the Target pair looks kind of weird light and really bright blue-ish white. But the padding in them is a lot better and I can wear them comfortably for much longer. Buying my normal size in both pairs, the Walmart pair was as expected fit-wise and the Target pair was about half a size too big.

Okay. So. Got your white canvas sneakers figured out and know if you’re spending $6, $10 or $40 after my extremely long commentary about your options? Excellent! :)

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Were you also wondering why it looked like my sneakers were on a hill? Marla was behind the scenes helping out with this fabulously simple shoe makeover :)

To keep things cost effective we’re going to use regular craft acrylic paint for this project. After experiencing issues with far more bad paint in my stash than good, I one day got frustrated and threw it all in the trash. I mean, some of these bottles are from the beginning of this blog and 6-year-old paint has the totally wrong texture. Since I’ve started fresh with my new craft acrylic paint stash I’ve gone pretty much exclusively Martha Stewart Paints by Plaid.  The two colors I used for this post was Camellia Pink and Beetle Black. 

Since I’m trying to minimize my craft stash I’ve also gotten rid of my fabric paints as a lot of them have gone bad over time. It doesn’t help that a lot of them have been stored in the hot garage where it seems the liquid has evaporated from it turning them into plastick-y goo. So that I only need to keep my spinner of 2-ounce Martha Stewart paints on my desk, I’ve also added Martha Stewart brand fabric medium to the new stash. With a ratio of 1 part fabric medium to 2 parts paint, I’m able to turn any of my craft acrylics into fabric paint. Cool, right? That means I can get some absolutely perfect colors without trying to mix colors and match versions of my mixes because I have an amazing variety of colors available to me straight out of the bottles.

Now fabric medium isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if these shoes are a one-off for a costume. You can also thin out craft acrylic paint with water which is basically free. To keep costs down further, you can use a less expensive brand of craft paint like Apple Barrel, which is also by Plaid and a good brand for a cheap price, costing only 50 cents at Walmart.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

To get the look of saddle shoes we are going to paint in the center portion of the shoe on both the outer and inner portions of the top canvas part of the shoe. Traditional saddle shoes also have a section on the back heel, which you can also incorporate if you’d like, but I chose not to do because nobody ever notices that detail or lack thereof.

Using your choice of color you’ll paint in this center section of the canvas, leaving the piping around it, eyelets and rubber soles nice and clean. To start, remove any tags and the shoelaces. Set the laces aside.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

To keep your paint off of your piping pinch the shoes and pull the piping back and then run your paintbrush beneath that piping for nice, clean edges.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

In some areas you might have to pinch 2 bits of piping, like on the Target brand sneakers, brushing in between the 2 sets. Now see how there is more area between the 2 areas of piping? I straight up left that business alone. In areas like this, go where you can without making a mess and leave it at that. Nobody will notice you didn’t cover ALL of the area because nobody’s going to be at eye-level with your shoes. And if they are, you have some weird friends.

When you get near the rubber sold, simply swipe your brush in as straight a line as possible. As long as the paint is straight it won’t matter if it goes onto the rubber sole a bit. Nobody will notice and if you look at your shoes from the store, this area is rarely perfect.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Keeping eyelets cean is super easy,too. Using a regular ol’ cotton swab, give the paint a few minutes to dry up just a bit. While it’s tacky, but not really liquid buff away the paint to clean up the metal grommets easily. If you wait a bit the paint will come away more easily and won’t just be spread around and like it will when it’s wet. Plus, it won’t wipe away from the canvas leaving spots to be touched up. If you wait a little bit too long and it’s too dry to come away easily, don’t fear. Barely dampen the cotton swab with a bit of water to get those suckers pristine and clean again.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Another tip I’ve got for nice, clean edges is to use a nice, stiff paintbrush. Coarse bristles will stay where you place them and follow your movement with the brush cleanly. Softer bristles will give a softer edge that won’t look as nice and sharp. I’m actually using fabric paintbrushes from Michael’s that I got half off with a coupon.

When loading up your stiff brush, only apply paint to one side of the brush. The paint will seep through to the other side, but it will be minimal and will help with your nice clean lines. Keep the side of the brush with less paint running along the piping of the shoes and you won’t have paint bubbling up and over the piping ruining your clean lines.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

As you work, your paint will build up into the bristles nearer where they attach to the handle. Regularly remove the excess paint on a scrap piece of paper or a paper towel to help keep those nice, crisp edges.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

You’ll want to keep the tongue of the shoe nice and white. To avoid paint dripping through your eyelets and onto the tongue. You can hold the shoe like above so that the paint drips onto your hands instead.

It takes a while for the paint to dry. To prevent accidentally smearing your paint, complete only one side of each shoe and then allow it to completely dry before tackling the other side. I don’t know how many times I swore I’d remember the other side was wet that I’d place it on the table and smear that paint all over the place. It’s devastating and totally preventable if you just let that first side dry completely.

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Allow your shoes plenty of time to fully dry. Give them a quick inspection and touch up any spots that didn’t get enough paint, clean up any eyelets if needed, etc. Once fully dry, lace your puppies back up and you’re done!

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Boom. Done. Even taking what felt like a lot of time trying to make my shoes as perfect as possible each pair took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Not bad, right?

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

I truly can’t decide if I prefer the pink or the black. The black is classic, but those hot pink puppies are pretty darn cute, right? Hrm. I guess it really doesn’t matter because I have them both! :)

Need a pair of saddle shoes for a costume or just because they are super cute but don't want to spend big bucks on them? Make your own cheap (around 6 bucks!) pair of faux saddle shoes!

Comments (34)

  • Susan

    April 17, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    What a great idea!! I have been looking off and on at thrift stores for who knows how long for a pair of saddle shoes to go with the poodle skirt that's in my costume closet. Now, the search is over! Thanks for sharing!

  • Allison Murray

    April 17, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    I am so glad that you found the DIY helpful and can finally start rocking that poodle skirt :)

  • Meg

    April 17, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    I gained 20 lbs and my old shoes don't fit. :S
    But yeah, this is an awesome idea. I may try it someday. :)

  • LJ

    April 18, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    I can totally see having an "inventory" of these in different colors! Great idea!

  • Allison Murray

    April 18, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    I agree with making a full inventory. I am already planning dying a pair khaki and making the saddle thingie red and a gray pair with navy blue. Will be so cute! Thanks for stopping by Meg & LJ :)

  • LJ

    April 18, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Khaki and red saddle-tennies? I am so stealing that idea!

  • Allison Murray

    April 18, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Ha ha! Wonderful – we'll be twins!

  • Laura

    April 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I totally did this & I love them!

  • Allison Murray

    April 24, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I'm so glad, Laura! Hope your new kicks treat you well :)

  • Diane

    April 25, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    I love these! I work in a nursing home and we have used Sharpie permanent markers to mark the laundry, but the ink evenutally fades, so if you are going to wash your shoes a lot, I would get the fabric pens. They make something called a Rub-a-dub marker for laundry that stands up but I'm not sure how well they color.

  • Meredith F.

    May 1, 2012 at 6:14 AM

    After coming here when I saw a pin on Pinterest, I just HAD to make them! Here is my pin with my results description: http://pinterest.com/pin/220606081717259399/ . I also got my 3 year-old niece's shoe size and made her some–she is going to flip when she sees them! Thanks for this genius idea!

  • Allison Murray

    May 1, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    I'm so glad you came by, Meredith, and I'm even happier that you got some good use out of a post! Thanks so much for the update!

  • Kathleen D

    May 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Awesome idea. I want to do this in my daughter's school colors!

  • Allison Murray

    May 3, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Hey Kathleen – thanks for stopping by. Drop us a link or pinterest pin when you finish? Would love to see the end result!

  • Susan

    June 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    I had a pair of them in HS…everyone wore them, cheerleader or not, in the Atlanta, GA area in the mid-70s. I loved mine and wore them out. Now I can have another pair!!!!!!

  • Allison Murray

    June 2, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    That is so awesome, Susan! I'm glad to know you'll be rocking some saddle shoes again! I had a bunch when I was younger – red, pink, black- and they are still fun to wear! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  • Cathy

    February 6, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Allison:
    I keep coming back to your site…you are a very crafty girl with tons of great ideas. I have totally enjoyed your site and your tutorials!!! Keep it up, enjoying you in Alabama!!

  • Allison Murray

    February 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Thanks so much, Cathy. Your encouraging words are so kind!

  • Jeannie

    March 18, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Absolutely love this. Its going to save me a bundle for my daughters swing dance costume.

  • Allison Murray

    March 22, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    I am so glad, Jeannie! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    June 4, 2013 at 6:28 AM

    Shoesday Tuesday is my favorite! And so are those saddle-shoes; takes me back to my childhood when I had a pair of pink saddle-shoes that I L-O-V-E-D. Might be time to invest in a fabric marker Sharpie, some $5 Walmart kicks, and bring 'em back! Thanks for being inspirational as always, Ms. Allison.

  • Allison Murray

    June 5, 2013 at 3:25 AM

    Thanks for being sweet and complimentary, Lauren!!

  • Christa

    July 7, 2013 at 3:40 AM

    I am a big fan of the sharpie for many things..Just thought u may wanna know, on a car ride that was 3 hours I got bored, took my white old leather flip flops off & started drawing zebra strips with a black sharpie. I let them dry a day in the sun, wore them…& whil not a lot came off on my foot (I drew stripes on the flat of the shoe that meets ur foot) They kind of bled everywhere..I was really shocked! Only bad experience with a sharpie ever. :)

  • Allison Murray

    July 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    You sound like me, Christa. I will and always have gotten after anything and everything with sharpies! Sorry to hear about your flip flops flopping. :(

  • Teri

    July 14, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Made a pair of these last Thursday for a 50s themed bridal shower. They were a hit. If you use regular Sharpies as I did, be aware that brand new pens may bleed a little. I resolved this problem by using an older, drier Sharpie to outline all of the edges, then I used a new one to color inside the lines. Worked like a charm. THANKS!

  • judy

    August 19, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    AWESOME –i was looking for pairs of these for 50s wedding —so decided to google it —this was so helpful–thank so much

  • Lynn

    August 26, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    Great idea which I will try for an upcoming 50’s social ,now I just need a poodle skirt.

  • Jessica Rodarte

    October 6, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Your tutorial is brilliant! I used your tutorial to make saddle shoes for my daughters’ sock hop birthday party. I shared a picture today on my blog and linked to your tutorial. (Here’s a link to it). Thank you! :)

    1. Allison Murray

      October 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      That looks like it was so much fun!

  • Sue

    October 19, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Thanks for this amazing and cheap idea. My husband and I are going to be Charlie Brown and Lucy for Halloween and this is a perfect affordable way to make my costume a little more believeable! Thanks for sharing

  • Stacie

    March 9, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    am so excited to do this….I had a pair of blue and white ones when i was growing up….was big into the graffiti nights where i lived….now i am into the rockabilly scene and these will go perfect….maybe some white and red ones too! thanks so much! I can do them for cheap! :)

  • autumn

    September 8, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    Sweet! This will be great for 50’s day at my daughter’s school!

    thanks!

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  • Kendra

    March 4, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    This Sunday is going to be 50’s day at church! I’m making a poodle skirt, so it just stands to reason that I make some saddles to go with them!! Thanks!!!

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