Tattoo Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial

January 15, 2014Allison Murray

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Why hello, there. You may be wondering, what is she doing posting shoes for Day of the Dead in January? Well, quite simply, I forgot to post them sooner.

Yep, I was digging around to clean some stuff up in the background cleaning up junk drafts and whatnot when I saw this sucker and noticed that these cool shoes never actually were published.

You may remember this post as a guest swap between myself and Leslie at Pink Stripey Socks. If you haven’t before, I think you should check out Leslie’s blog because it is fab and if you like my stuff you’ll love hers! But let’s go ahead and get to the tutorial, shall we?

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

But back to the task at hand, with it being October and the time for all things Halloween-y I put my thinking cap on and decided to make some shoes with sugar skulls that stylistically looked kind of like old timey tattoo work.

This tutorial not only has a freebie file to make your own sugar skulls, but also has a little mini tutorial within itself… how to use an iron on transfer onto shoes. Google it, I dare you. Nobody will tell you how the heck to do this and so today I’m all over it.

For this project you will need:

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

First thing’s first, you’ll need to print your sugar skull. Using a copier make the skull a bit larger or smaller as needed to fit properly. I went ahead and knocked out a whole page worth and then selected the one I liked the best. Trim the excess paper flip over. Trace the lines onto the back with the Sulky transfer marker. You can also use a red transfer pencil but those things take forever and with the Sulky you can use your transfer twice with no problems.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Take your first shoe and jam your washcloth into the toe area. Shove and push so that it is nice and firmly inside of there. If you have some excess space jam another cloth in there. We want this to be super firm.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Use straight pins to attach the transfer, iron on side down onto the shoe as you’d like it. Run pins through the paper and the shoe and into the washcloth below. The only pins I own have plastic head so that’s what I used but metal heads would be easier.

Take your hot iron and place onto one area of the paper. If you have plastic heads you’ll need to avoid them and move as necessary so they don’t melt onto your iron. If you have metal heads you can just get after it!

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Do not move the iron like you’re ironing a pair of pants… Set it directly onto the paper and leave it there. Push down (the cloths inside will prevent the canvas from shoving and distorting). Pick up the edge of the paper and check to see your progress. Apply a second round of heat to anywhere the transfer hasn’t taken.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Repeat on the second shoe.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

And now, the fun bit! Color your skulls as you desire. The wet marker will bleed onto another color.  I wanted my colors to blends so I worked one right up to the next for nice, fuzzy edges but if you don’t want that, use one color and allow to fully dry before coloring next to it.

Trace the entire skull with a heavy coat of black.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Since the main design on the skulls is flowers, draw some big flowers and leaves all around the sides and back of each shoe. I used a fabric disappearing ink marker to draw out my first designs, but flowers are simple enough.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

Color in with the same colors as on your skull. Add the occasional cross, heart or diamond to fill any spaces that seem too empty.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

And be careful while the shoes are drying. I was working on these while it was raining with my windows open and somehow I came back to find that this had  happened. After the marker sets for a while water won’t bother it, but while the ink is still wet you’re going to have problems. I wound up whiting this area out with fabric paint and redoing the eye. It doesn’t match perfectly but I don’t know that anyone can tell  from a quick glance.

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

If you find you need to use white paint to cover a mistake, know that there is no white paint I have found that matches white canvas. To even the design out, I painted white in similar spots on both shoes to keep the painted eye from standing out too much. (it’s the one on the far right)

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

All together I only used five different colored markers. Two different greens, a teal, a yellow and an orange. I prefer using Tulip fabric markers because you can layer them to make colors lighter or darker!

Sugar Skull Sneakers Tutorial by

I bet you can guess what became of these shoes. Like so many I DIY up I have to give them away because I just don’t have the space for so many. So I gave them to my sister early in November and I have a feeling she’s probably worn them out by now! In fact, she got a compliment on them while I was standing right by her. That was pretty darn cool!

Hoping you’re having an amazing day!

Comments (3)

  • Leslie

    January 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Looks awesome. :)

  • Cheryl

    November 22, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    These are so cute! I live in Oregon, so aside from the drought, it rains for about 9 months straight. Did you Mod Podge them? I don’t know if that would make them weird or crunchy, or maybe they’d be tacky and pick up dirt?

    1. Allison Murray

      November 22, 2015 at 9:29 PM

      I actually didn’t and my sister wore them clean out but the paint shouldn’t be crunchy or tacky of you use fabric paints or fabric markers. On my sister’s shoe the only part that seemed to get dirty was the white areas but a quick spray of Scotch Guard would have helped lessen that considerably!

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