Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Over the weekend I finally tackled a project I've been thinking about for some time. Inspired by a couple of projects shown in past issues of Altered Couture magazine, and encouraged by the acquisition of materials so inexpensive that it literally didn’t matter what I did to them, I've created what I think is a pretty amazing transformation.

From this:

To this!

And all for about fifty cents. Told you I was the queen!

The shoes came from a free box at a semi-annoying sale last year. The ad promised lots of fabric and craft supplies and even though it was off my usual path I decided to take a look. Unfortunately, while there was a lot of stuff on the driveway, it was overpriced and there was nothing of interest to me. Which was at least partially explained when I heard the seller bragging that she had let someone come a couple of days early and buy all her best stuff. Okay, I admit it was hers to sell, but doesn’t she realize there are rules? And that one of them is people who come early are cheating? (Yes, I'm joking. Pretty much.)

So I headed back to my car and noticed a box o’ free stuff nearby. And there was this pair of shoes in quite good condition that to the naked eye looked about my size. Okay, I can hear some of you going ewwww, used shoes! You don’t know where those have been! Trust me, you have no idea how many feet have been inside a pair of new shoes at the store either. And I know something about leather shoes that not everyone is aware of.

You can wash them! Yup, right there in your washing machine. I threw ‘em in with a couple of old towels and used the gentle cycle, then let them dry in the sun, and voila—clean shoes. Which, when I tried them on, fit perfectly. I could have polished them at this point but I just knew there would be something better to do with them.

Sometime later I scored two new packages of origami paper for fifty cents, planning to give them away.

One pack was indeed given. But then I was looking at that magazine and saw what they'd done with shoes, and thought of that colorful paper. And have been thinking of it for months. I have no idea what kept me from diving in, because once I got started it was a blast.

You need a lot of specialized equipment for this kind of project:

Yup. Scissors and glue. The magazine article said she’d used bookbinder’s glue. I looked that up, and basically it's white glue. Elmer’s. I cut the paper into roughly two inch squares,
spread the glue very thinly on the back with a folded out paper clip, and I was off. It was really fun playing with colors and patterns and shapes. I took my time, going off to do something else when I got bored. As I was working I remembered that my husband had picked up a little bottle of gold paint, like you use on a model, so I painted the heels with that. And rather than put the shoelaces back I used a couple of short pieces of black elastic. All told, the ingredients couldn’t have cost more than fifty cents.

So today the shoes had their maiden voyage; I wore them to work. There are a couple of spots I need to reglue, but I've got plenty more Elmer’s! And people’s reactions were fun, especially the lady at the restaurant where I had lunch who came up beside me and breathed, “Where did you get those SHOES?!”


  1. Those are so cool! You did a wonderful job. :)

  2. that is so clever. the shoes look so different after the decoupaging.

    i actually bought a pair of shoes at a thrift store the other day. they look fine as they are (even though my friend tells me they look like bowling shoes). I wonder what they would look like if i went and put wrapping paper all over it. hrmmm.. possibilities!

    and yes, that is a secret - i never knew that you could put leather through the washing machine.

  3. That is so cool. What a great idea.

    I buy all my shoes at thrift stores. If you look, you can find great deals on new or hardly used shoes. I just spray with Lysol and wear them!

    I got two pairs of Dansko clogs this year for $5 each (one pair was over $200 online)!

    This would be really fun for kids to do at a birthday party!

  4. OMG - this changes how I look at old leather shoes. Can you wash suede?!?!?!

  5. The queen? I do believe this raises you to godess!

    Those are sooooo cool. So cool.


  6. those shoes are really lovely!
    did you put anything on the paper to seal or protect it from wear? The paper might not last too long exposed to the harsh elements of SoCal!

  7. You are truly an ARTIST! Love the idea of gold heels. Using your technique, I'm going to try to decoupage a thrifted vintage leather purse that's a good shape but an ugly color. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Super fantastic shoes! Well done!

    Did you know that I decoupage bracelets with text from books?? I just love my Jane Austen...

    Thanks for the leather washing tip too :)

  9. Thanks for visiting Heart Felt and leaving your lovely comment. I can't believe how you have transformed those shoes...amazing! x

  10. It's me again. Go check out the post I just made mentioning your blog. I hope you don't mind - I just wanted to share!

  11. You definitely you mede a real good job with this shoes!!

  12. I LOVE those shoes! (My birthday is next month.... hint, hint ..... ;0) )

  13. O My Goodness. I thought My mother-in-law was the only one who thrifted garage sales as enthusiastically as you! You sure did find a great bunch of nice deals. I can't wait till spring here..that is mostly when all the good stuff hits.

  14. how fun! Thanks for sharing! They look great. :)


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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