Dye it Yourself – How I Dyed a Pair of Shoes

Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes you own and fancied dyeing them? Well dear readers, that is precisely what I did! In this blog post, I explore and share with you my experiences of dyeing a pair of shoes, using Tarrago Self Shine Colour Dye in Metallic High Silver.

One of the advantages of having a craft as a hobby (or in my case, a passion), is that it gives you the freedom to look at things and think ‘hey, I could have a go at that’. Sometimes, this mentality doesn’t always work out as planned. And of course, there are limits.

However, this mentality can open up many doors to new possibilities – to create items that are truly what you want and need. For the past few months, I have been trying to find the perfect pair of silver shoes to wear on my upcoming wedding day. My first port of call was of course Hotter, but the shade of silver in current & upcoming collections sadly wasn’t quite right for me. I then took a trip up to London to pop in to Revival Retro to try on the Remix Balboa in Silver. Whilst I absolutely loved the colour and the style, they just didn’t fit correctly. I was assured that they would stretch to fit my feet, but I just kept thinking what a prize idiot I would feel getting home and telling Kieren I had spent the best part of £200 on a pair of shoes that didn’t fit!

Juliette by Hotter Shoes.

The shoes I had stashed to one side as my intended wedding shoes, were the Juliette shoes by Hotter from a few seasons ago (see my original post here). I love the style, the heel height is comfortable – but I just couldn’t get past the tone of gold in them. So, I took matters into my own hands – and decided to dye them.

An online search on brands of shoe dye turned up Tarrago – who seem to be experts in the shoe dyeing field. They stock a mind boggling amount of colours, for both leather and suede shoes – including a nice selection of metallics.

Tarrago shoe dye.

*Before I begin – I just want to state this is how I dyed my shoes – but always READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AND LABELS FOR YOURSELF and follow them very carefully!! This blog post is just my vague account of my own experience*

Step One – Remove the Existing Colour

Before picture. This was the shoes prior to any treatment or dye.

The first step (which I found was actually the worst) was to remove the original finish/dye on my chosen shoes. This felt horrible, as I had to literally use a green scouring pad to scrub at the leather. Even though it feels like you may be destroying your shoes, rest assured this is an important part of the process.

This is after applying the Preparer, and removing the original dye from the shoes.

The kit I bought comes with a Preparer; which is basically a chemical liquid to apply to a sponge sourer to then lift off the original finish. I say this was the worst part, for two reasons – 1). Scrubbing my shoes felt so wrong. 2). The Preparer chemical is nasty stuff, it has a strong odour and you must wear gloves (also, I just get a bit jumpy around chemicals in general – I actually had 2 pairs of gloves on throughout this stage!)

I was worried about how patchy the leather looked, but it didn’t seem to affect the finish.

Step Two – Painting around the Sole of the Shoes

After leaving the shoes for a little while so that the Preparer solution could dry/evaporate, I then used the actual dye to carefully paint around any fiddly parts. For example, the edge of the leather at the sole, the edges of the heel, and any parts that required delicacy.

Here you can see I painted around the edges of the shoes, at the sole.

Step Three – The Fun Part: Dyeing the Shoes

Dyeing the shoes.

After all the prep work and fiddly parts were done, I could then move on to actually dyeing my shoes! For this, I frequently stirred the dye bottle with a handy little brush (which comes with the pack), then used the brush to apply drops of dye to a mini sponge (also included with the pack).

After three coats of dye.

Next I gently rubbed the sponge with the dye over the shoes, until an even finish was achieved. I applied 3 coats, then left the shoes to dry out for around 4 hours. I then looked at them to assess whether I wanted to apply additional coats of dye, which I did. In total I applied 5 coats, achieving a finish I was pleased with.

The shade I used.

Step Four – Clean Up

After leaving the shoes to dry again overnight, I then returned to my handiwork the next morning. So, at this point I was really thrilled with the colour – but they definitely needed a bit of a tidy up.

Here you can see the dye on the rubber sole – not good.

This is the sole after I had used a cotton wool bud to remove the unwanted dye.

To remove the unwanted parts of dye from the heel, sole and other rubber parts, I used a cotton wool bud dipped in water. Simple as that. I gently rubbed at the dye, and it eventually came away from the rubber sections.

Step Five – Finished!

From gold to silver!

And ta-da, a pair of silver shoes! I am so pleased with the colour, and also really happy that I can wear these shoes on my wedding day. The fact that I have dyed them make them even more special and unique, and I know I will look back on the dyeing process and it will be another memory connected to my wedding.

The finished result, pictured on their original Hotter Shoes box.


Am I happy with the outcome? Absolutely!

Would I buy a pair of shoes purely with the intention to dye them? Probably not. As you may have gathered, the whole process took maybe a day and a half. Even though the bulk of that time is drying time, it is a lengthy process.

Would I dye a pair of shoes again if they needed to be a particular shade? Yes, I think I would. As I mentioned, I definitely wouldn’t go out buying natural/beige shoes just with the intention to dye them. But, if I needed to dye a pair of shoes for a special occasion, then I would go through the process again.

Also, this wasn’t a drastic colour change – I was going from one metallic to another, so I’m not sure how stronger shades (for example) blue to red would work out.

Have you dyed a pair of shoes? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments! This was my very first time using shoe dye, so I am curious to hear additional experiences.

Until next time dears!



2 thoughts on “Dye it Yourself – How I Dyed a Pair of Shoes

  1. Janey says:

    This is something I haven’t tried yet, so I greatly appreciate a look into this process! You did a marvelous job!


  2. Lauren says:

    Ahh this is a wonderful overview! I’ve never thought to overdye a pair of shoes, even though I’ve done that with clothing before. It seems very scary, but your result is lovely!

    xx Lauren

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