Tie Dyed & Leopard Spotted – Happy Early Birthday, Jen!

July 23, 2012Allison Murray


This Shoesday is a special one! My sister’s birthday is just a few days away and I’m afraid I’m giving away the secret of her present a little early. I’m sure she won’t mind, though! She likes shoes like I like shoes so I pulled a page out of my shoe crafts ideas journal and got to it.

You see, I am intrigued with tie dye. Seriously intrigued. I have tie dyed shirts, fabric panels and even a pair of king sized sheets (made on my driveway – it was a big messy and horrible production and a gift for my sister :) In fact, I am typing this while wearing one of my many tie dyed tees. But, I have never, ever tie dyed tennis shoes. The idea was always an awesome one, though. So I endeavored and did my best. Check out the results for yourself!

You will need: white or light colored canvas shoes, plastic to protect work area, liquid dye concentrate, cups with 1/4 cup or so of water – one for each color and one for plain water – paint brush, plastic wrap, paint brush, fabric paint

STEP 1: Start by preparing your area that you’ll be using. This is kind of a messy project. Place a big piece of plastic on your work space (I used a kitchen sized trash bag laid flat). Run your shoes under some hot water for a good couple of minutes. This will help to remove any sizing or other chemicals in the fabric and help your color stick!

STEP 2: Mix your dye concentrates into your cups of water. I wanted middle of the road tones, so I put about a tablespoon of concentrate into each cup. I used fuchsia, purple and teal. Be sure to leave one cup without any dye.

Go over your shoes with a bit of water on your brush and then begin with the dye concentrate. I first painted fuschia around the toes of my shoes, then purple and teal on the heels. Layer the colors over one another and keep adding water (to help the dye bleed into its neighboring color). I also put a little bit of purple at the bottoms of the heels for some nice color difference.

STEP 3: When you are happy with the color – remembering that it will be lighter when you rinse out your dye – cover completely and tightly with plastic wrap. Then tie your shoes into a plastic bag and toss somewhere that is dark and warm – I tossed these out in the garage.

STEP 4: Either when your dye has had ample time to sit, or when you just can’t stand it any longer, rinse the color out of your shoes several times over. When the water runs clear either allow to air dry or toss into the dryer.



Remember before rinsing your shoes that the longer they sit the richer the color. Mine only sat about 4 hours, but in an ideal situation I’d have let them sit for at least a couple of days.

*If you want to spot your shoes with leopard dots – continue reading. If not, enjoy your colorful kicks!

Using fabric paint, go around your shoe painting wonky dots, and c shapes to form your leopard pattern. If you need some assistance, Google “leopard print” and copy the shapes you see in the image results.

Well, that’s about it for this Shoesday. Happy Birthday, Jen! You have another present but it will have to be a surprise! (Oh, and the shoes will fit you – taking pictures was so uncomfortable because they are a size too small for me! :)

Comments (4)

  • Jess

    August 15, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    I love this post. I recently picked up a pair of white chucks on clearance and had something like this in mind, so I was super excited to come across your post about how you managed it. I actually copied you almost exactly. I made smaller leopard print with a stencil, but other than that mine are about the same and I LOVE them!!! Thanks for the step by step!

  • Allison Murray

    August 15, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    That is so cool, Jess! I would love to see a pic of yours!!! Thanks for stopping by to let me know about your Chucks :)

  • Joy

    March 28, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Do you have to be careful about getting the dye on the plastic part of the shoe? Or will that part not hold the color?

  • Allison Murray

    March 28, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Hiya, Joy – you may want to do a quick test, but in my experience the white rubber doesn't take on the color or if it looks like it has it easily rubs off with a dry rag. Best of luck!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Post Next Post


Sign up for my newsletter and grab my 10 most popular blog posts, I'll send them right to your email address.