As I was cruising around Pinterest the other day, I came across a picture of some hand-painted sneakers. Well, of course, that thought had occurred to me, but since I am really and truly a Vintage Mama, I had no clue if something like that would even be of interest to anyone. Still not sure, but since I saw someone (probably some really young someone) painting their sneakers, I decided to give it a try. That has happened to me on several occasions . . . since I’m not terribly “into” fashion, I don’t usually know what is popular at any moment in time (and it changes so fast anyway, I doubt that I could keep up with it even if I cared!), so it is helpful to me to know what people might be “liking” out here in the big world of cyberspace.
As soon as I started painting the little white sneakers with the bright colored paints out in my studio, I knew this was going to be a FUN project! I now have several pair of my hand-painted sneakers in my Etsy shop, Tatters to Treasures, but I decided to take pictures as I went along with one pair so that I could put together a quick and easy tutorial. This would be a really fun project for kids at camp, at VBS, for a 4H group or for any other activity where kids are doing crafts. It doesn’t take a professional artist to make these cute sneakers, just a few acrylic paints, paint brushes, new white sneakers, and some ribbon. That’s it! Let’s get started making some hand-painted sneakers.
Start with new white sneakers. Any kind will do, they don’t have to be fancy or expensive. Choose the color of paint you want to be your base, pull out the laces, and start painting. It works really well on the base coat to use an angled brush with a straight edge so you can paint down next to the white trim around the sole and around the top of the shoes without getting too much on the part that you want to stay white. If you get a bit of paint on the edge of the sole, just wipe it off with your fingernail or a Q-Tip. If you accidentally get paint on the white fabric trim around the top, just let it dry and then touch it up with white paint.
Start painting! Cover the entire top, sides, and back of each shoes, being careful to avoid getting too much paint on the trim around the top and bottom. The grommets for the laces can be a bit tricky, too, but don’t worry about it too much. Just paint around them to make sure there is paint completely around each grommet, then take a Q-Tip and gently clean the excess paint out from each hole and around the outside edges. You shouldn’t have a problem with messing up the paint on the fabric part of the shoe because the paint soaks in a bit and is not disturbed when you are removing the extra paint from inside and around the show-lace holes.
Paint the tongue of each shoe, very carefully, by pressing them down away from the trim at the front of each shoe and gently dabbing paint down to the very bottom of the tongue. Then carefully extend the paint to the edges and up to the trim around the top. It can be tricky but gets easier with practice!
When you have both shoes completely painted, let them dry for a couple of hours.
Now comes the fun part! These flowers are so easy but you will want to practice on a piece of paper first. I started out with just a blob of white paint and then kind of swirled it around in the general shape of a flower. Round with some little scallops here and there around the edges. Then I added a bit of bright pink in dots around the edge and just feathered them out towards the edges of the flower. You will want to play around with the colors so you get some light and dark pinks, mixed in with the white. Then I added a bit more white in tiny dots in the center of each flower.
The leaves and vines are pretty easy, too, as long as you go really lightly with the paint brush. For the leaves and vines, you will need a fine point brush and then just “whisk” a line from each flower out across the shoe. Add several twining or curving lines in light green and dark green, then add a few pointed dots for leaves. I also added a few tiny dots just because it seemed like a fun thing to do. I put one pink flower on the front of each shoe, one kind of a partial flower off the outside of the shoe, and one complete flower closer to the center front but still a bit off to the side.
Then I added a smaller flower to the outer heel of each shoe, and twirled a few vines, leaves, and dots all around. On some of the other shoes I’ve painted I added a LOT more stuff, because sometimes we want to be really sassy and other times we want to be rather shy so either way, have fun painting the flowers on your sneakers!
You can always just put the plain ol’ white laces back in your hand-painted sneakers, but why do that when matching ribbon is so much more fun! For the blue sneakers I had some sheer light blue ribbon that matched perfectly, so I used that. You can use satin ribbon, or grosgrain ribbon, or pretty much anything you want – just cut a piece of ribbon about 30″ long, lace it through the holes, tie it in a bow and tie a tight knot at each end of the ribbons to keep them from fraying. There you have your very own pair of adorable, whimsical, and totally fun summer sneakers! Hope you had fun making them – don’t you think this would be great fun for a kids’ project? Of course, you never know how they will turn out, but it would be worth it to see what they come up with!
Here are a few other designs of my hand-painted sneakers, all available in my Etsy shop, Tatters to Treasures