Monday, June 11, 2012

Tie Dye Drop Cloth Shoes

I lived in black cotton Chinese Mary Jane shoes in high school because:

  • I also wore them for my color guard uniform.

  • China flats are one of the styles that always fit my weird kid sized feet and don’t give me blisters.
I need some kick around summer shoes.  I figure I’ll pick up a pair of China flats in a cute color since I don’t need black as part of a uniform anymore and I’m trying to stick to my One Small Green Change of only buying shoes that fit.

canvas drop cloth tie dye shoes
I dyed these shoes with a Tulip Tie Dye Kit. (affiliate link) 
It was easier and less messy than that  fussy stuff in a bucket.  

I didn’t anticipate how hard it was going to be to find a pair of China flats! I finally bought a new pair off eBay for $2.99. The price is right but the color is a bore.

Chinese Mary Janes
I have a weird thing about buying used shoes. Cannot. Do. It. 
However, new off eBay I can do.

Husband suggested I dye the shoes and make them more uniquely me. The only problem is I am a complete Girl Scout camp tie dye failure. My tie-dye t shirt epic failed and the mean girls at camp made fun of me when we wore our shirts for the big camp talent show.

I’ve run screaming from all “hey, let’s do a tie dye craft with the kids!” activities ever since. True story.

This is a good time to face my tie dye fears, don’t you think? 

How to Tie Dye Shoes

drop cloth tie dye shoes

You will need: 

Cotton Chinese Mary Jane Shoes (MUST be cotton or another 100% natural fiber)

Tulip Tie Dye Kit – Primary colors

Tulip surface cover or plastic trash bag (recommended big time!)

Rock salt and/or uniodized sea salt (In the past using iodized table salt lead to major fails. Don’t be me.)

Cotton canvas drop cloth (I had some left over from making my gas grill cover)

Star cookie cutter or template



Straight pins

Fabric glue



Make it:

1. Wash the sizing out of the cotton shoes and a section of the canvas drop cloth. Do not use fabric softener.

2. Fill the premixed (and key to my tie dying success) bottle of blue Tulip fabric tie-dye with water and shake to mix the color per the directions in the kit.

3. Spread a Tulip plastic surface cover or trash bag on the ground outside. I recommend you do this outside, even though the squirt bottles makes dying less messy than that big tub of dye at Girl Scout camp, it never hurts to err on the side of easier clean up.

4. WEAR THE GLOVES THAT COME IN THE KIT. Unless you want blue hands. The dye is nontoxic so that's not the issue. Walking around with Smurf hands until the dye wears off could be though.

5. While the shoes are wet, squirt the dye on the wet shoes. Make sure you cover the entire shoe with blue dye.

6. Sprinkle uniodized rock salt and/or sea salt onto the dyed shoes to add texture. The dye will not penetrate where you sprinkle the salt.

rock salt tie dye
If you don't have rock salt leftover from winter or are a lucky duck who lives in a warm area that doesn't require rock salt, Tulip sells little packets of salt resist salt.

Caution: I stuffed my shoes with plastic bags hoping the dye wouldn’t penetrate to the inside sole of the shoe. The dye got through anyway. I also think having a less than flat surface interfered with the salt resist technique. The salt resist didn’t come out as well on my shoes as it did on my flat test t shirt. I like the texture I got on my shoes but I wish it was a little more pronounced like on my test project.

7. Place the dyed shoes in a plastic bag and allow the color to cure. The directions say to leave it in the bag 4-6 hours. I left mine in the bag overnight.

8. Fold the section of canvas drop cloth like an accordion while it is wet. Wrap the rubber bands that come in the kit around the folded fabric every 1 to 2 inches.

folding tie dye
Folding tie dye technique

9. Fill the premixed bottle of red Tulip fabric tie dye with water and shake to mix the color per the directions in the kit.

10. Place the banded fabric on the surface cover, put on the gloves, and squirt red dye on the fabric.

folding tie dye
This looks like something out of a horror movie, doesn't it?

11. Place the dyed fabric in a plastic bag and allow the color to cure. The directions say to leave it in the bag 4-6 hours. I left mine in the bag over night.

12. Remove the shoes and fabric from their respective plastic bags. Remove/cut the rubber bands from the folded fabric.

folding tie dye
The folding tie dye worked. Yay me!

13. Rinse the excess dye from the fabric and shoes with cold water.

14. Wash the shoes and fabric in a large load of water with a small amount of laundry soap. 

15. Dry the shoes and fabric in the dryer to set the dye.

salt resist tie dye
It's difficult to tell in this photo but the salt resist creates a nice visual texture on the shoes.

16. Place the star cookie cutter on the tie dyed fabric. Trace around the cookie cutter with a pencil and cut it out with the scissors. Cut two stars from the fabric.

tie dye star
Cutting time!

17. Pin the star shapes on the shoes. Trim the shape with the scissors if needed.

tie dye shoe
Almost done!

18. Use the fabric glue to glue the stars to the toe of each shoe. 

19. Once the fabric glue is dry, use the needle and thread to sew the star to the shoe. This will ensure the glue keeps the star on the shoe, is a barrier for fraying fabric, and adds interest. 

20. Wear those shoes out on the town!

drop cloth tie dye shoes
These shoes are made for walkin'

I love how my shoes came out! The salt resist adds texture to the shoe. The folded tie dye technique I used on the drop cloth adds to the rustic Americana feel I wanted. I am so working these shoes Fourth of July weekend!

drop cloth tie dye shoes
Rustic Americana Realness!

A big thank you to Tulip for sending me this easy tie dye kit and getting me over my tie dye fears. Tulip Tie Dye Kits are available at Walmart, Walmart Canada, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, Hancock Fabrics, and Meijer. The tie dye kit contents and colors may vary by store. You can also connect with Tulip on twitter @ilovetocreateFacebook, and Pinterest

how to dye canvas shoes
Pin this tutorial for later and share it with your friends on Pinterest!

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Heather - dollarstorecrafts said...

Such a fun project. I must get myself some of those Mary Janes - I had a few pairs in high school too!

thezenofmaking said...

Love them! I didn't know the salt trick--I'll definitely be using it for future projects.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I didn't realize there were other ways to tie dye something other than making the traditional tie dye circles (FAIL) either. I learned how to do the salt resist dying and folding dying here They have other techniques I want to try like dying fabric with liquid dye and sprinkling it with dry dye powder.

Samantha said...

Love how your pink fabric turned out. It's so vivid.

Natasha said...

Those came out super cute! I also luvvv china girl flats, urban outfitters has a really cute supply of them now. Fun colors & even cuter prints. They're pretty cheap too!

thezenofmaking said...

Thanks--I'll definitely check it out!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! I wore them in high school as well but my feet seem to need more support now. Thanks for the instructions!
Sue Clarke

TheSewingLoft said...

Super cute! Love that you took this project out of the box!

Carla said...

What a great idea! I love the addition of the red star, these would be perfect to wear to a 4th of July picnic.

Haylequin said...

I was just wondering, where did you get the shoes off of Ebay (like which seller)? Also, are the shoes wearable outside or do they have soft bottoms like slippers?

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

The seller doesn't have any more auctions. I found more on eBay searching for "China flat shoes" and "Chinese Mary Jane shoes" though.

The shoes have a rubber sole. You can wear them outside and around town like a regular summer shoe.

Unknown said...

These are too cute! I love that tie dying finally worked for you, even if it did look like a murder scene. I bet adding a fabric flower would be cute too. Thanks for sharing on Tout It Tuesday!

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