Tribal Tennies DIY

August 14, 2012Allison Murray


I had different plans for this Shoesday, but Saturday night I had a dream about the coolest tennies. They were coral and teal and followed the totally on trend tribal style. Sunday morning I got up, called my mom and grandmother and worked on the shoes while on the phone. Just like that my new favorite shoes were created!!!

I was lucky that I hoard because I already had basically all of the supplies necessary. There’s no greater way to stifle creative urges than a 2 hour trip into town to go to the hobby store. BUT, I didn’t have any coral fabric paint. What I did have was coral acrylic paint and textile medium. So I mixed the two together and the day was saved!


Next up was pattern, which I had already found. Somewhere on one of my time killing phone apps I saw the greatest skirt. I guess I committed the designs to memory, or just my mind made it up and I’m positive it’s right. Either way- you don’t have to do the same. Just as a little help, I drew out the designs and step by step for the big medallion style. It’s rough and quick, so don’t judge! You can also do a google image search for some awesome options.


Oh – this is what the shoes looked like before. They’re behind Mister Maxamillion von Fuzzybottom. It’s cool though. I’m sure you know what white tennies look like…

So – wanna make your own? You will need: fabric paint in two colors (or acrylic and textile medium), white sneakers, black fabric marker, fabric marking pen, paint brush.


STEP 1: Draw your pattern on one of your shoes. You can either mimic the symbols I used, search out some others, or invent your own! I used disappearing ink, just in case I hated the design. (p.s. I also wrote out notes while on the phone in disappearing ink. I have NO clue what they were!)

STEP 2: Start to fill in your design with your primary paint color. I went coral for the entire background of the shoe. Use your secondary color to fill in some of your designs.

Trace with your black fabric marker and fill in any black spaces. Take care that the pen will bleed near wet paint, so allow to dry before taking on the marker work.

STEP 3: At some point you’ll need to mark up your next shoe mimicing the design from the first. Because I was painting slowly, I used permanent marker on my second shoe. It would have disappeared before I got around to it!

Finish painting and outlining the designs on the main portion of your shoes.

STEP 4: Paint your tongue your secondary paint color. Allow to dry and use your marker to make them patterned as well.

STEP 5: Since I haven’t found a good way to heat set, I instead let the paint sit for a good week before wearing out and about. This helps the paint set for me without heat. You should have no problems after that!

If your shoes are too stiff to be comfortable, especially around your ankle, wet your shoes slightly and toss into the dryer for about 10-15 minutes. This should help soften up any coarse paint!


Happy Shoesday!!! See y’all tomorrow!

Comments (9)

  • Ashley

    August 17, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    This color combo is so great, and I'm so impressed with the design… Not tomention your apparent multitasking skills… Haha nice!

  • Allison Murray

    August 17, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Thanks, Ashley! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, eh? :)

  • Molly

    August 18, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Where can i find some plain white shoes like yours for a good price?

  • Allison Murray

    August 18, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Hi, Molly. I get my plain white tennies for $5 at Wal-Mart. They are in the cheapie section where they hang shoes instead of have them in boxes. I want to say that they run whole sizes only, but I'm not 100% on that. Good luck!

  • Palmy

    October 31, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Hello! Alison Im from thailand. and l love your tennies idea so i made it.
    thank you for sharing this good idea

  • Allison Murray

    November 1, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    That is too neat, Palmy! I would love to see a pic if you get a chance :)

  • Julia @ FaveCrafts

    April 17, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    What a cute project! I love it so much that I decided to feature it in our roundup of refashioned shoe tutorials! Check it out here:

    Have a great day!

  • Allison Murray

    April 18, 2013 at 3:17 AM

    Thanks so much for the share, Julia!

  • 25 DIY Ideas & Tutorials To Refashion Your Shoes – Noted List

    August 24, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    […] Get the directions here. […]

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