DIY Indigo Watercolor Sneakers

Guys, sometimes store-bought sneakers just aren’t enough. I love bold color, patterns and a solid pair of tennis shoes. I walk just shy of 5 miles a day so I’m constantly looking for comfortable shoes that make my day a bit more fun. My last adventure in customized shoes yielded these epic gold glitter sneakers that I still wear to this day! Today’s version I may actually like even better.

I’ve gotten so many complements on these you guys, they’re bright, bold, colorful and fun. They add a little sunshine to my walk each day I wear them!


What You’ll Need

  • 1 pair white Keds or other canvas shoe
  • Fabric Medium (This helps the paint stick to the shoe even when washed!)
  • Satin Acrylic Indigo Paint, Martha Stewart makes an indigo acrylic (linked), pictured here is Reeve’s
  • Paint brushes


1. Mix your paints – First mix 1 part acrylic paint to 1 part fabric medium. Then add about 4 to 5 drops of water per tablespoon of paint mixture, the texture should be a little runny but not like water. Remove the laces from your shoes and if you’d like, tape off the rubber bottoms of your shoe to protect them from paint. Washi or painters tape should do the trick.


2. Make a test swatch of your pattern – seriously guys I can’t stress this enough. Make a test swatch on a similar fabric so that you can decide whether or not you like the way your paint mixture looks. I’ve found that depending on the acrylic paint brand you may need more paint or less water.


3. Starting from the back seam of your shoe (the seam allows for a natural starting point) start painting your pattern. I opted for two rows of open circles but I think stripes or chevron would be delightful.


4. Work your way carefully around the shoe, occasionally loading extra paint onto your brush to make darker patches of your pattern. If you want a lot of diversity you can use a second, undiluted paint/fabric medium mixture. It’s okay if your pattern comes out a little rough & uneven, this will add to the effect! I also opted to fill in the area around the laces and I love it! Again, don’t feel like you need to fill in the area perfectly – you want some color variation.


5. As you wrap around the front of the shoe, if you’re using the circular pattern I’m showing here you’ll need to add an extra row. To get a really light look for parts of your pattern, let the paint on the brush almost run out before refilling. Or for really light spots, [surprise!] add a little more water to your paint. if you haven’t noticed the level of dilution makes a big difference in the color.

Pro Tip

The more water you add to your paint mixture the more likely your paint will drip or run. This is easy to prevent! After loading paint onto your brush, lightly touch your brush to a piece of cardboard or paper towel – this will pull some of the excess paint off.


6. Continue painting around the outside until you’ve completely filled the shoe. While the first shoe dries, start the second, mixing more paint as needed. When the second shoe is dry, re-lace and wear your rocking new shoes!

finished_shoe3 finished_shoe2 finished_shoe carpets_shoes


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