Introduction: Custom Shoes With No Artistic Abilities!

About: Sneakers, photography and more.

Custom shoes are a great way to stand out from the crowd, express yourself, or even prove you are more fashionable than anyone you know. Unfortunately, doing custom artwork on your favorite pair of kicks is out of the question if you can't draw or paint! With this instructable you will be able to make custom shoes with nothing more than some fabric and basic gluing/scissoring skills. In this instructable I customize a pair of vans shoes, but you can use any shoes you want (although I would not recommend this on leather shoes). If you are interested in seeing my instructable on custom Nikes, click this link! ->

Every time I wear my custom nikes I get tons of compliments!

The supplies for this project are pretty minimal, and you might have all of them laying around, but here is a list:

•Shoes (I used a new pair, but feel free to use some old ones so it isn't a big deal if you mess up.)


•Fabric glue

•Masking Tape

•An exacto knife

•Fabric Scissors

A few optional, but very useful things to have are:


•Clothes Pins

•Fray Check

Let's get started!

Step 1: Supplies

The Shoes:

Choosing the shoe is probably the most important step here. You want to keep in mind what kind of shoes might look good customized, what you will be using the shoe for, and if you are willing to modify a pair of shoes you already own or just buy a new pair. You probably don't want to use a shoe that you will be using hard, for example, basketball shoes, work boots, or any other shoes that might take a beating. This method of customizing is pretty sturdy, but it will fall apart quicker if you are abusing the shoe.

Some shoes I highly recommend are Vans, Nike Roshes, or Converse All-Stars. Each of these shoes are very common and very recognizable. I like to custom a common shoe, because it adds something uncommon. Each of these shoes are also made out of either canvas or mesh so the fabric we will be gluing to the shoes will stick well. Lastly, each of these shoes are fairly inexpensive. The Nikes cost around $75, and the vans and converse both cost around 40-50 dollars.

The Fabric:

Youcan use any type of fabric you want. I just try to use a fabric that will look good on a pair of shoes. The fabric I use in this instructable is actually denim, which is great because it is super durable, matched the shoe I was using, and doesn't fray as easily as some fabrics. You won't need very much fabric, even if you are putting it on the whole shoe. I paid around $2 for my fabric, and had plenty left over.

It is important to choose a pattern that will look good with your shoes.Try to keep in mind colors and patterns that will work with your shoes for the best result.


There are several types of glue you could use for this project. I use Aleene's Fabric Glue, because it is flexible and waterproof. You don't even notice any change in how the shoe feels after you customize them. I also use a product from Aleene's called Fray Check. Fray Check stops the edges of the fabric from falling apart. It isn't required, but I would recommend it.

Fabric Scissors:

You are going to want fabric scissors, not regular scissors. Fabric scissors do a great job of cutting through fabric without fraying the edges. Regular scissors do not.

Masking Tape & X-Acto Knife:

We will be using this to make our template for the fabric. Any masking tape works. I use an X-Acto knife to cut the tape because they are sharp, cheap, and precise.

Step 2: Prepping the Shoe, and Picking Your Design.

The first thing you want to do is decide what part of the shoes you want to customize. If you look at your pair of shoes, you will probably notice that the shoes are made up of different panels. It is best to follow the existing design of the shoe when you are modifying. For instance, if your shoe has a nike swoosh, you probably don't want to cover it up. Feel free to customize the swoosh, just don't cover the whole thing up. I decided I wanted to customize the heel of the shoe as well as the tongue. Since I was customizing the tongue, I removed the shoes laces, and used some tape to pull back the area on my shoe that was covering up the tongue.

Look at your shoe and decide what a cool look would be! At the end of this instructable I will post some pictures of other custom shoes I have made for some inspiration.

Step 3: Making the Template

Once you have decided how you want your custom shoe to look, start putting masking tape over the parts you want to customize. In the first picture you can see That I taped the tongue of the shoe up, but left a spot for the Vans logo. Be sure to leave plenty of overhang when you tape the shoes. Don't use several layers of tape. We don't want the tape super thick, because we want to be able to see through it a little bit while we are cutting it. Plus, the more layers of tape the harder it is to cut the tape out. The idea here is that we will tape over the shoe where we want to customize it, then we will cut off the excess tape so that we have tape the exact same shape as that part of the shoe. After this, we will take off the tape pieces and use them as templates to cut out fabric.

Once you have taped up your shoe, begin cutting off the excess tape. Be sure to not cut to hard, because we don't want to damage the shoe underneath the tape. Don't worry about this too much though. Shoes are a lot tougher than masking tape, so you most likely won't have a problem with cutting the tape. When cutting off the tape, I like to make several small cuts. I find that it is more accurate. I usually will cut off some excess tape, then use the knife blade to lift a corner of the tape I just cut, then pull off the excess and continue.

Once you have cut out all the excess tape, you will have perfect tape templates! At this point I like to mark each piece of tape so we don't get them mixed up when we take them off the shoes. Here is how I marked them:

RT: Right tongue

LT: Left tongue

RH:Right heel

LT: Left heel.

Mark your tape templates something like this.

Step 4: Making the Fabric Pieces

I find this step to be the most difficult. Fabric frays way more easily than you would imagine, and it can be tough to good looking pieces that aren't completely frayed, especially if you are cutting out an intricate piece like a nike swoosh.

Go ahead and start this step by removing the pieces of tape from the shoes. Be careful to not rip the tape here. I used the X-Acto knife to lift a corner of the tape from the shoe, then carefully lift the rest of the tape off from there.

Once you have removed the tape pieces decide where you want to put them on the fabric. I wanted a lot of flowers on mine, so I placed the tape over flower-dense parts of the fabric. You might notice that the tape pieces are curved and they will be difficult to place flat on the fabric. Just try your best to put them down as flat as possible.

Once you have placed the tape templates down I like to cut them all out individually (See picture 3). By doing this, it is a lot easier to cut each piece out precisely.

Here is where I messed up. You will notice in picture 4 I am drawing a pencil outline, and in picture 5 you can see that I have cut out the pieces, but left the tape part on them. The point of drawing a pencil outline is so you can remove the tape before cutting the fabric. By doing this you stop the fabric from fraying dramatically. When you cut out the pieces and then try to remove the tape, it pulls at the threads on the edges and frays the piece of fabric. Learn from my mistake and draw a pencil outline, remove the tape, and THEN cut out the fabric. Your results will turn out much better.

At the end of this step you should have all of your fabric pieces cut out to the dimensions you need. Be sure to keep track of them so you don't put the left tongue on the right shoe or whatever.

Step 5: Last Step! Gluing the Fabric Pieces On

Now that you have all your little fabric pieces, you can get ready to glue them on. I start this step by dabbing a bunch of dots of glue all over the part of the shoe we are customizing (see pic 1). After this, I use a Q-tip or toothpick to spread the glue around. This helps the glue to not soak through the shoe. It also help so that glue doesn't squeeze out all over when we press the fabric on.

Now we can go ahead and start placing the fabric pieces on the glue. If the fabric piece is a little too small, you should be able to stretch it a bit. If it is too big, carefully trim some down. Be sure to use plenty of glue around the corners, as this is where the fabric is most likely to fall apart. Make sure to press the fabric on the glue really well. We don't want any loose spots. At this point, if you bought fray check, go ahead and put a little around the edges so protect the shoe in the future. After the fray check, I like to put a clothes pin down on the corners of the fabric if I can. If you use the clothes pin, only leave them on for around 10 minutes. If you leave them on longer they end up getting glued to the fabric, so you want to take them off when the glue is still fairly wet.

You're done! See the finished project, as well as some other shoes I have done in the past on the next step!

Step 6: Results

After letting the glue dry over night, put the laces back on the shoe and you're done! Go ahead and toss those shoes on and take a picture for Instagram! Also leave pictures of the shoes you've made in the comments.

The Nikes in these photos have been worn quite a bit, so they are a little beat up, but you can see that they hold up fairly well.

Please vote for me in the "Footwear" Contest! Thank you!

Footwear Challenge

Runner Up in the
Footwear Challenge

Maker Olympics Contest 2016

Participated in the
Maker Olympics Contest 2016

Summer Fun Contest 2016

Participated in the
Summer Fun Contest 2016