At last! At long last, I have my two-tone red 23Skidoo shoes! I noticed these shoes in an American Duchess teaser way back in January 2012. Last November, I pre-ordered them with birthday money and was one step closer to the jewel toned oxford t-straps of my dreams. Nearly a year later they’re finished, I think my 23Skidoo project must be fashion set to “tortoise!”
The shoes arrived, carefully packed and pristine white. I wore them a few times this way but decided I really wanted deep red/ “light” red coloring. Blithely, I assumed I could take the shoes to a cobbler and have them dyed. Not so much, apparently leather dyeing isn’t done in the same way one might have bridesmaids slippers dyed.
Instead, I needed to paint the shoes. I was really unsure about this process so I took my time, roughly six months, getting up the nerve to paint my lovely shoes. After reading/watching the American Duchess shoe-painting tutorial, I bought two little pots of Angus leather paints- red and black. I asked Lauren how to best achieve the dark red/”light” red effect and her suggestion was to tint some of the red paint with a few drops of black for the toe and heel caps.
Stephen and I settled in one evening to paint my shoes. We’re both handy, painty people so found the work pleasant and different from other projects. We started out wiping the shoes with Ethyl Acetate to remove any oils or finishing and to allow the paint to stick.
Stephen chose a 1/2″ wide, flat brush with fine bristles. When I saw how much better it worked than the coarser brush I started with, I switched.
The first few layers of paint went on a little unevenly despite the change of brush and I was a little worried! But after layer 3 or 4, I could see the colors would even out nicely and I relaxed. Over a few weeks, I left the shoes out where I could see them and occasionally evened out the paint here and there.
Then I varnished them with acrylic paint varnish and scotch-guarded for good measure. I really love the effect of painted leather, I’ve had painted shoes before but didn’t realize it. It looks like a picked up a tiny scuff! I can tidy that up, I have my paints to touch it up and then I’ll re-varnish in a more aggressive manner. I’ll gently roll the upper part of the shoe away from the base so I can paint away those flashes of white, too. They’re not at all obvious until I wear the shoes…
I know American Duchess designs her shoes to be comfortable for all-day wear, and I tested it out myself. I didn’t go to a re-enactment or a dance event (if only!), instead I wore these to work at a show on my feet almost the entire day. They were great, really supportive and no blisters. In fact they were great on day 3 after the other shoes I wore ate me up on day 2. For reference, I have wider-than-average feet and a high arch. The sides of the shoes are cleverly made so my feet don’t look like they’re overflowing, as can happen with me sometimes.
I’m really happy with the end result, though I do want to touch up a few places and varnish more heavily. I tend to wear red as a neutral, so red shoes suit my wardrobe. The two shades still read as a solid shoe while the tonality gives it a little more depth. I don’t think shoe-painting is on my list of “instant gratification” projects, but it is extremely satisfying to know I can paint shoes. I’m already thinking about the next pair of painted shoes… What about delft-tulip patterned Gibons? Like the shoes one might find on a delft-blue porcelain figurine.. ?
Here, I’m wearing the 23 Skidoos with my brand new Penelope Tiramisu dress and a Zebra Cuban heel seamed stocking. Serious stockings, I love them and usually wear fun stockings for work. The gallery, fabric specs and notes can be found on sewingcake.
I’d like to say many thanks to my local coffee shop Hallowed Grounds for letting us take photos! Stephen and I had their delicious, refreshing iced cucumber-mint-apple juice that comes served with half a mint bush this time. It smells so good!
What do you think? Would you ever paint shoes, or have you? How *great* is it to finish a UFO? Who out there wears seamed stockings?
(I know I said before I’d be letting the blog go quieter as I work more on sewingcake, but I had to show you these, I’ve been harping on them for such a long time…!)