The Air Raid is held at Ft. Macarthur in San Pedro, and is primarily outdoors and unpaved. Last year was rainy, but we've been having a mild winter this year so I hope the weather holds through the weekend! Even if the ground isn't muddy it'll still be dirty, so I want some warm sturdy shoes to wear. Last year I wore my Aris Allen oxfords and they got nice and muddy, and last weekend I finally got around to dyeing them, which I've wanted to try for a long time.
This isn't exactly a tutorial on how to dye these shoes because I feel that this technique can be improved on, but in case some gals want to dye theirs I thought I'd document what I did. If you have any ideas how to improve this process, please comment below! And if you haven't seen it, read the Dreamstress's Shoe Dyeing Tutorial.
Dye - I chose Dylon, RIT would probably work fine
Salt - this may or may not be a good idea, see below
Gloves - get a 5 pack, I used at least 3 pairs
Brush - I chose a cheap sponge version, it worked fine
Old toothbrush - to clean shoes
White Tissue paper - stuff inside shoes while dyeing
Bowl for dye (glass or stainless steel)
Spoon for mixing dye (do not use for food)
Using a toothbrush or something similar, clean your shoes. Mine still had lots of mud from last year, and you need to clean off all the junk so the dye can take evenly.
I mixed up the dye according to the package instructions, but they wanted me to add salt to the dyebath water. Since I painted my shoes, I added it to the dye - which I'm not sure was a good move...
I didn't tape off any trim, but if you want to, do that now.
Stuff the shoes with tissue paper or paper towels.
Using the brush, thoroughly wet the shoes with plain water, then apply the dye. It's like watercolor painting, wet-on-wet. It spreads fast and goes on fairly evenly.
Wet shoes, after one coat. I let them dry for a while, then did a second coat.
After drying, the shoes were really splotchy! I'm not sure if it was from the dye or the salt, but it brushed away. I had already pitched the toothbrush, which was the wrong tool for the job anyway, so Chris got me a soft bristle brush from his shoe polishing kit.
Ahh, much better! not perfect, but good enough. They are more even-toned in real life.
Here's a warning about this project. The velvet nap seems like it's made of cotton, which is a natural fiber and dyes well with Dylon or RIT. The stitching and binding are synthetic and doesn't pick up the dye for natural fibers well, which is why you get the neat contrast. BUT!! it looks like under the cotton nap is a synthetic base, so the areas that are rubbed down through wearing don't take the dye well either.
If you really want to dye well worn shoes, I'd recommend mixing together dyes that are intended for natural and synthetic fibers. But then you'll loose the contrast stitching because that will dye too. Another option is to use a lighter shade of dye so the contrast won't be as strong.
FYI, I never wore these shoes much, maybe out dancing 5 times? That was enough to wear down the nap, I guess.
I'm still really happy with how they turned out! I like them in brown MUCH more than the off-white from before, and the contrast stitching is so cool. Most of the uneven color is on the inside of the shoes so it's not obvious, and I'm not above touching them up with a marker. :) Now I just need to find the Scotchgard and spray them down!