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Beauty & Fashion

Embellish Your Own Canvas Sneakers!

Raise your hand if you have some kind of plain-color shoes. Everybody does, right? We all need some basic black, white or beige shoes in our lives to help match our patterned outfits. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some fun shoes in there, too! And how awesome would it be if you upcycled those shoes yourself?

For this week’s DIY, we’re going to take a look at some amazing hand-painted TOMS being sold on Etsy for inspiration to create our own DIY kicks. The hand-painted shoe craze has exploded and many of the coolest finds are pricey, but the good news is that it’s not that difficult to craft your own pair. Don’t have a plain pair of TOMS, Chuck Taylors or Keds? Check your local thrift store or hit up eBay or Target for any pair of canvas shoes.



  • Any acrylic paint, like Delta, Ceramcoat, Crafter’s Edition. The acrylic doesn’t matter as much as the sealer.
  • Brushes with soft bristles.
  • A high-quality sealer (these usually run around $10-$15). A matte finish works well, but if you prefer gloss or high gloss, get whichever suits your style. You can purchase these at JoAnn’s or any other art supply store and they are usually right next to the acrylic paint.
  • A pair of TOMS, Bobs, Vans or any canvas shoe.


  1. Draw your design on the shoe with pencil first. It doesn’t matter if you smear the lead as you will need to paint at least three coats of the acrylic over it anyhow for the design to really last (these are going on your feet, remember!).
  2. After you have your design drawn on, start painting. Let each coat dry entirely before applying the next. On a hot day the paint dries quickly, so each coat of paint can be applied much faster than on colder days.
  3. Do not get overly stressed out if you make any mistakes. The beauty of acrylic is that it dries fast and can ALWAYS be painted over. Take a couple of deep breaths. Remember, anything you do can be undone and fixed, and keep painting. If I make a hideous mistake, I usually design something larger, paint white over the old design, and draw the new, larger design onto the shoe.
  4. I usually apply two coats of sealer regardless of what the directions on the bottle say. With my experience of painting on canvas and duck cloth, I’ve never had a design wear off or get sun-faded. Most sealers say at least three coats, but that seems like overkill, especially with three coats of acrylic under it. It doesn’t matter if you go a little outside of your acrylic painted area with the sealer and spill over onto the canvas. Most sealers dry clear, so don’t get too panicky if you see a darker spot on the canvas. Wait a couple hours and it should dry clear.

And there you have it…your own pair of painted shoes!

Source: Cooney Island California



So cute and girly! (Purple Lizard Studios)


Handmade in California, and that’s what it reminds us of! (B Street Shoes)


Perfect for a music lover! (Sole Reflections)


These remind us of a romance novel. (R to the Second Power)


These have an awesome Bible verse painted on them! (PaperHeartsApparel)

PI Girls, what do you think? Would you make or buy hand-painted shoes?

Image: Etsy/PaperHeartsApparel


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  1. Trinity

    Posted by Trinity on June 7, 2014 at 19:03

    Not usually a fan of these shoes but I like this idea so much. My only question is do you paint the words or use a Sharpie for them?

  2. Queen E

    Posted by Queen E on December 28, 2013 at 22:44

    SO Cute! I wish I had read this during Thanksgiving break to give to my Yearbook editor…she loves these shoes. I’m more of a ballet flat/low wedge person, but she loves these.

  3. Silver_Blaze

    Posted by Silver_Blaze on November 18, 2013 at 14:37

    I am SO doing this! 😀 Now to think of a design…

    • Trinity

      Posted by Trinity on June 9, 2014 at 13:41

      Yeah, right? I think I’m going to do son lyrics, probably from Kimya Dawson or something. I think my first one’s going to say “Just when the shoes seem so big I can’t win” on one shoe and then on the other “I fill my own sneakers and take off again.”

  4. Project Inspired

    Posted by on November 16, 2013 at 18:17

    I love Toms! They are so comfy!

  5. missjessicallea

    Posted by missjessicallea on November 16, 2013 at 16:53

    I absolutely adore these! I’ve seen a bunch I’m in love with, but I didn’t know how to do it. Thank you very much!

  6. Sarah1260

    Posted by Sarah1260 on November 16, 2013 at 16:11

    My sister is making a pair of these and they are outstanding!!!

  7. AChild0fGod

    Posted by AChild0fGod on November 15, 2013 at 05:14

    I love these DIY posts! This is a really cute idea and I think i might try it! 🙂

  8. mkay77

    Posted by mkay77 on November 14, 2013 at 19:04

    I’ve seen a pair with Les Mis references all over it. Made me sooooo happy. 😀

  9. gracedgirl

    Posted by gracedgirl on November 14, 2013 at 15:57

    This is my favorite DIY so far! Love the idea of painting your Toms. I’ll have to try the Bible verse example on my own shoes. 🙂

  10. rdfpink

    Posted by rdfpink on November 14, 2013 at 12:18

    Oh my goodness! These are actually what I was looking at for my birthday this year! I am actually looking at buying knock off Toms and having a friend paint them for me. They are so special, and have so much more character than just plain canvas shoes!