Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes

Having shoes that perfectly match the dress was the ultimate touch of luxury for the fashionable Victorian (and Edwardian, and quite a few other eras!), so of course I needed a pair of Emily pink shoes to go with Emily’s pink dress.

This is how you dye fabric shoes.

Start with your plain, undyed dyeable fabric shoes:  (yes, they really do need to be undyed, and uncoloured – shoes that are already coloured/dyed have almost certainly been treated with a surface finish which will make it very hard for them to absorb a new dye, plus the colour that they already are will affect the colour you want to achieve.)

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

I’m using a pair of 90s bridal shoes that I paid a whopping $8 for.

Try to determine if your shoes are silk, or synthetic (or, less likely, cotton or linen).  If your shoes are a natural fibre like silk, linen, or cotton, use a natural fibre dye.  If your shoes are a synthetic like polyester, you will need a synthetic dye.  Remember that satin is a weave, not a fibre, and satin can be either silk or polyester.

My shoes are silk, so I’m using the same iDye silk dye that I used to dye the fabric for my Emily dress, a 3/1 mix of iDye Pink and and iDye Sunny Yellow.

If you are lucky, your shoes will come with trial swatches, for you to try your dye colour on.  If they don’t, have a few swatches of similar fabrics for you to try your dye colour on – a selection of fabrics will give you a good idea of how your dye will look on a variety of surfaces (and hopefully your shoes!).

Mix your dye according to the stovetop instructions.  I filled my dyepot with water, brought it to a boil, added 3/4 a cup of vinegar, and then added the dye.  I stirred and simmered for 10 minutes to ensure that my dye was thoroughly mixed.

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

My steaming, boiling, very pink dyepot

DO NOT mix dye in a pot that you will ever cook food in.  There are lots of chemicals in dye that you do not want in you!  If you don’t have a dyepot, pick up a cheap one at an op shop.

If you want to dye your shoes a very dark colour, only use a small amount of water to the dye powder, to ensure that the colour will be saturated enough.

With the dye ready, try your sample fabrics and check that your colour is right.

As I was dyeing dress fabric at the same time, that got to double as my test.

My first dye mix, pure pink, was too blue pink, so I added a bunch of yellow to achieve a more coral pink.

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

The second, coral, trial sample on the larger blue-pink sample

You may want to blow-dry your fabric sample, or run it through the dryer to see exactly what it will look like, and to speed up the drying process so you can get to your shoe dying quicker.

With the correct colour achieved, I got to start on the fun part: dyeing the shoes!

Now, for fabric, you want to throw your fabric in the pot and stir like mad.  This is NOT how you dye shoes.

Nope, you paint the dye on.

Fill your shoes with wadded up white tissue paper.  I do not recommend using newspaper or coloured tissue paper as the printing ink & dyes can run and stain your shoes.  You don’t have to do this step, but it does help to keep the dye from seeping into the inside of the shoes (I skipped it).

If you want to paint your heels a different colour, mark them off with painters masking tape, slipping the tape as far as you can into the join between the heel and the shoe.  You will still need to be very careful as you paint not to get too much dye near the heel.

Using a wide, high quality brush, dip your brush in the dye, and paint your shoes using long smooth strokes.

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

Painting a layer of dye on

Paint each shoe with two full coats of dye.  Ensure that the dye colour is even across the shoe.

With two coats on each shoe, it’s best to let the shoes dry.

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

The shoes after the first two coats have dried

Save your dye – you don’t want to switch colours between coats – unless, of course, you decide the colour isn’t quite right in the first two coats, and need to adjust the tint just a little.

Once your shoes are fully dried, they will probably be just a little paler than you want them to be.

Heat your dye solution up again, and paint another two layers on.

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

Painting the 1st layer of the 2nd set of of coats

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

The front shoe has a full 3rd coat, the back only the dried first 2 coats

Tutorial: how to dye fabric shoes thedreamstress.com

Both shoes have 4 coats of dye

Set your dye solution aside, and let your shoes fully dry a second time.

When your shoes have fully dried from both coats assess them.  Are you happy with how deep the colour?  Has it fully covered and seeped into the shoes?  If so, yay, your shoes are done!

If not, continue to coat and dry until the colour is deep enough to make you happy.

Good luck!

When your shoes are fully dried, you may want to spray them with Scotchgard or a similar product to fix the dye and protect them from spotting.

Update: Thanks to all the people who are finding and using this tutorial!  If you have a question, please read all the comments as it has almost certainly  been answered there.

Please note that it is very difficult to dye an already coloured and dyed shoe, and that you CANNOT dye a shoe a lighter colour than the one it already is.  Nor can you dye a shoe or bag a colour that is across the colour wheel from the one it currently is.  A blue shoe cannot be dyed red – it will come out purple.   A green shoe cannot be dyed pink, it will come out grey or brown.  Do not attempt to bleach your shoes to remove a previous colour.  Bleach is a very harsh chemical and will seriously damage the materials of your shoe, significantly shortening their lifespan (if not ruining them immediately).

UPDATE #2:  I am no longer able to answer questions on this tutorial, or respond to messages about it.  It’s a tutorial: take it, experiment with it, trial a few cheaper pieces, and  figure out it what you want is going to work 🙂


  1. Renee Blue says

    I have shoes dyed by a cobbler (shoe shop) that went pretty good with a dress I wore for a wedding 7 years ago. Now I want to use the dress and shoes again, but the shoes seem to have become blue-er, like sky blue than the periwinkle dress that appears light purple now. Plus, someone at the past wedding spilled their drink and I see splash marks (lighter blue) on parts of the shoes. SO….. If I try to re-dye to a darker, maybe purplish color on the shoes, do you think there is any chance the splash marks would disappear? And….do you think that color would blend and even come close?

    • Unfortunately if your shoes have been dyed before and have stains and marks that have been left for seven years they are unlikely to dye successfully again.

  2. Savannah says

    Can shoes be dyed again? I want to dye some apricot heels lipstick pink. Thank you.

  3. Corinne says

    Hi there! Thanks for the tutorial. I have Fuscia silk wedding shoes that I would like to just take down a few shades to a dark burgundy. A friend recommended I use black dye to do this – what do you think? Thank you!

    • Don’t use black dye, that will just dull them and give you a really weird shade – you’ll need some combination of red, blue & purple. Experiment with watercolour paints to see what colours turn fuchsia in to dark burgundy.

  4. Bmac says

    I have some purple dyed shoes, I have never used them ! I want to dye them black! Is that possible! What dye do I get and where???

    • I wouldn’t see why not (unless, like mentioned above, they’ve been “sealed” somehow). I know many dyable shoe services actually offer to dye the shoes black after your event.

  5. Jennifer says

    Hi, I have a pair of faux suede light grey 100% polyester shoes. I tried dyeing them with dylon hand wash but the dye just washed off after (originally I did not know they were polyester). How can I dye them purple. Thanks.

  6. Judy rankin says

    Enjoyed your tutorial on how to dye shoes. I have a pair of bright white shoes from Walmart that have a webbing over the toes and a ” leather” around the sole. I would like to dye the shoes black but a navy blue would be okay too. Can I use the same process or would a Rit fabric dye work better? Thanks for the help!

  7. MRSVQBD says

    I’m trying to dye my white satin shoes a champagne color. How can I achieve that?

    • Hi there,
      I have the same situation – wanting to dye white shoes to a champagne colour- just wondering where you able to dye your white shoes?

  8. I just bought some MEN shoes that are leather… They already have a print.. which are LEOPARD print.. the leather they utilized had synthetic hair… my guess so they can look like they were actually made out of LEOPARD skin. The black part of the spots on them, were not black, they were more like a dark brown. So I want to dye them BLACK. What should I use to dye these shoes that will not make the dye run or fade if I use those shoes in the rain or something. Also.. the sole and the heel part of the shoes is TAN and I want that BLACK as well… the heel feels like if it is wood, so does the sole. How do I dye the sole and heel black as well, same concept that will be PERMANENT.

  9. Jennifer Redfern says

    Hello, I have brought some purple converse for my sons dance competition footwear. However, they aren’t the correct shade and are a lighter shade, more pink than purple. Can I dye them plum purple and what best type of dye should I use?

  10. thando says

    hello there
    I have these grey boots that id like to dye black and I was wondering if it would possible to dye them black without a challenge of having a weird shade afterwards

  11. Linda says

    I have a pair of pink dyed shoes that got wet when my niece got married a couple of months back. Could I redye the shoes or would the water mark stain still show?????

  12. Michael Herbst says

    hi, I just got a pair of grey and black nike inflict wrestling shoes. How would I only dye the grey part vegas gold?

    • Unfortunately that’s not possible with dye. You can’t dye grey to gold, and it’s very tricky, if not impossible, to dye only certain parts of a shoe one colour, and not the other.

      • Michael Herbst says

        I have friends who have done it and it turns out great

        • Perhaps you could ask them how they did it? I’m guessing with paint, not dye, and more likely over white than a dark colour like grey.

          • Vivian says

            Great answer! “Ask your friends how they did it.” Why ask here and then challenge the reply? Incredible!

  13. Adelya says

    Dear Dreamstress,

    I have Rainbow Club Christy satin shoes. Is it possible to paint them with Dylon handwash fabric dye? I would like to have a tea rose colour. Is it possible to get by mixing pink + yellow colours? Thanks!

    • Heather says

      I was also wondering the same….

      I have white wedding shoes that I’m looking to dye black with the dylon black handwash fabric dye! I’m assuming it will be okay?


  14. Melanie says

    Do you have any suggestions for using a light gold dye on white satin shoes? Light gold or “champagne” color. Or if that color dye is even available?

    I have a bridesmaid who needs to dye her similar shoes to match the same color as my other girls.

    • I found a pair of shoes that would look perfect with my wedding dress if they were a different color.

  15. Valentina says

    Hi, I came across your post on dyeing fabric/shoes. And I got this very infectious idea to try dyeing this cute pair of shoes I got. They are a fabric oxford, medium blue roses on white background. They are very cute, but I think would be more practical if the background was more of a taupe color. Can I send u a pic of these to see what you think? I’m also not sure what king of material they have-it’s not silky like your shoes in the post, feels more like cotton?? (Almost like the type they would use on sheets? Same type of weave rather I guess). I would appreciate your input! Please email me so I can maybe send you a pic and see what you think. Thanks a million in advance!

    • I’m sorry, I really can’t give individual advice on dyeing shoes. I’m an extremely busy person, and can’t be much help without seeing things in person, which we can’t do over the internet. This tutorial is just that – a tutorial. You’re going to have to try out a few examples, experiment, get some experience, and then decide for yourself, And know that you’ll make some mistakes along the way, as happens as you learn most new skills!

  16. I am currently dyeing a pair of shoes to match a dress I’m making for a show I am costume designing. I used RIT crystal dye mixed with rubbing alcohol (let crystals fall to bottom before painting) and a sponge tip brush. It is working out very well and I have a lot of control over the concentration of dye. Alcohol helps it dry faster and not saturate the shoe so it doesn’t loose it’s shape. Hope this helps anyone who needs it!

  17. Carol Fletcher says

    I have a pair of purple satin shoes with matching clutch bag that were bought for my sons wedding and was wondering if they would be able to be dyed black, as we cruise quite a bit they would be worn much more than they are now

  18. Amanda says

    I have Taupe color shoes can I make It lighter Taupe color as it is not matching my dress. it is Satin and what king of dye it is not silk. thanks

  19. Martha Inman says

    Help! I need to find someone to dye a pair of satin shoe for me…I have searched the internet and cannot find a place to have this done. PLEASE help..or advise where I can buy the dye…I need a turqoise for
    a wedding. Thank you…M

  20. Nana says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have a question about making the shoe lighter so it can show the different colour better.
    So I’m planning on dyeing a pair of fabric ankle booties like these but they’re beige:


    And I’m wondering if it’s safe to paint bleach and/or pre-dye onto the shoe first, and then paint the dye onto the shoes? And would yellow be able to show better if it was bleached/pre-dyed? Thanks in advance and have a wonderful day! 😀

    • I DO NOT recommend bleaching before dyeing. Bleach will seriously damage all shoe materials and significantly shorten their lifespan. This tutorial is really meant for undyed shoes, as it’s hard to colour over previously dyed shoes.

  21. Carla says

    Hello, I have just purchased a pair of Rainbow Club Dyable satin shoes. I wish to dye them navy blue, however they have diamonte and petals on them is it possible to dye these without damageing them
    Thank you for your assistance x

  22. Chasity says

    I have a pair of mint green Vans shoes that are pretty faded. I am looking to dye them with fabric dye, but i would like to know if it would be a good idea to bleach them before i do. Would it make it easier to dye if they are bleached lighter?

      • i also have those mint blue vans faded because of using detergents :/ , i am also trying to dye them. do i have to bleach them white again to dye them mint blue again? PLEASE REPLY.

        • Detergents and bleach will all seriously weaken the fabric of your shoe, and should be used as little as possible. You can try to re-dye, but it may not work well because the detergent will already have affected the fabric. DO NOT BLEACH.

  23. Susan says

    Do you use fixative after dying silk shoes or try to seam set them in some way to prevent fading and bleeding?

  24. amy trevino says

    I have a mint green pair of Badlgey Mischkas that are regularly $250 and I found them at Nordstrom rack for $96. I want to dye them a royal blue as my something blue for my wedding. I have no idea when I’d ever wear these as a lime green shoe but I cant seem to find someone that I can trust to dye them.

    There is a shoe hospital here in Austin that everyone is recommending me to but they have horrible Yelp reviews and warnings to not go there (not for dye jobs but for shoe sole repair, heel repair etc. )
    Was wondering how I could dye these since I am indeed dying them darker and they are not across from each other on the color wheel.

    Any suggestions or should I just give it a spin on the shoe roulette wheel and go to the austin shoe hospital?

  25. Hi

    I have a pair of dyeable wedding shoes that I bought at a thrift store for my daughters wedding. They have a couple stains on them and an ornament on the toe. They are off white. The stains are not real noticeable and I would just like to brighten them up a bit. Like using the same color of dye. Is that possible? Just wondering about the ornament as well.

  26. amy trevino says

    Is there absolutely no way for me to dye these pale light pastel green shoes to a royal blue color myself? what color would I need to dye them to get them royal blue. THe fabric of the shoe is satin and chiffon wrapping. I just cant imagine having to pay full price for these shoes and add on top of that the price of the pale shoes I already have. Please help? any advice?

    • Christine says

      We bought a small scrap of fabric at Jo Ann’s that matched the shoes I wanted to dye. Perhaps you could do this and just try with a very small batch of dye?

  27. Jillian says

    Dear Dreamstress,

    I would like to commend you on your patience with answering these “dying” questions. You are a saint!

    Seriously, thanks for the help. I’m looking to dye my white wedding dyeables a deep ivory color to match my dress.


  28. cindy says

    I have a pair of white wedge boots there like a cloth fabric could I dye those black and what’s the dye called

  29. shellyscorner says

    Wow! Dreamstress . . . I hope someone has given you a halo somewhere along the way! You TRULY MUST have the patience of Job!

    SERIOUSLY PEOPLE . . . READ THE TUTORIAL AGAIN!!! LITERALLY all but two or three of the above comments were answered in the tutorial! The people either didn’t read and comprehend, didn’t like the what they read, or believed that SOMEHOW THEIR situation was different or special! NOT!

    She said!!!:
    1. IF your shoes are already one color YOU PROBABLY CAN’T DYE THEM! EVEN if they’re light and you want to go darker!!! Because the MATERIAL USED TO MAKE THE SHOES WAS TREATED TO MAKE THE MATERIAL COLOR-FAST.

    2. IF your shoes are DARK you CAN NOT dye them LIGHTER.


    OH! But my favorite was the one who got an answer they didn’t like, so they wrote back, . . . “…but my friend did it…” SERIOUSLY!?!?! WELL if your FRIEND did it, WHY ASK THE DREAMSTRESS!?!?! GO ASK YOUR FRIEND! How RUDE!

    SERIOUSLY PEOPLE! The woman has a life! She GRACIOUSLY shares her time with us and offers a tutorial for OUR benefit! NOT because SHE NEEDS IT!

    Have the courtesy to actually READ & COMPREHEND the tutorial BEFORE you write a comment asking a question. Many of the questions asked got no response. My guess is because she already answered EVERY SINGLE ONE in the article BEFORE the question was even asked! Be respectful of her time and show some self respect, think about your question BEFORE you write it. Make sure it wasn’t already answered in the tutorial OR already asked and answered!

    I truly don’t mean to be rude or make anyone feel bad, but good grief! Imagine if you were the one writing the tutorial and all you got was questions that were answered before they were even asked! You might ask yourself why bother? If we want this treasure trove of information to continue to offer us her assistance, WE NEED to show our appreciation by asking the RIGHT KIND OF QUESTIONS.

    By the way, Dreamstress, THANK YOU for your tutorial! I learned a LOT! It was EXACTLY what I was looking for! And also, please forgive me if I have overstepped my bounds! 😉

  30. Christine says

    Thanks for this article! I have been on a hopeless search for orange wedding shoes. My mom suggested Rit but we weren’t sure about the soaking method. Painting worked great, and we used a hair dryer between coats.

    For anyone wondering, the shoes were a champagne/ivory and some type of glossy satin or silk. We used frogtape to cover the sole so we don’t have to worry about my feet turning orange! The plan is to give them some time to dry then generously scotchgard just to be sure.

    Will post back with any further info. Thanks again for the info and confidence!

  31. Danielle says

    Hi I’m just wondering if u know what paint on use to write on satin/silk shoes please. I’m not wanting to due the entire shoe just write in fine lettering. Many thanks

  32. Jeffrey Gailfus says

    Hello, I was wondering if it would be a good idea to attempt and dye red suede shoes to a burgundy. Just wondering how the color would workout.

  33. Katie Franklin says

    shoebuy.comshoebuy.comHi Dreamstress,
    Thank you for the helpful information and for responding to so many questions!! I have a pair of satin shoes (these: https://www.shoebuy.com/touch-ups-margie/366844) that I want to dye. I was wondering if you had tips for how to know whether the satin is synthetic or natural… I’m guessing mine are synthetic because it would probably be advertising if they were silk. What do you think?
    Thank you!

  34. Kara martin says

    Hello I’ve read several comments above but am still uncertain.. I have a pair of running shoes I’m wanting to dye black. They are mostly white and silver but do have some accent colors. Do you think the black dye will be able to darken or black out everything? Or would it be a waste of time? Thank you so much for your continued support and interest in everyone’s comments

    • If the running shoes are different colours, they are almost certainly treated with a finisher that will keep them from successfully taking dye. 🙁

  35. raul says

    Hi! I have a pair of navy blue shoes, the fabric is the one they use on vans; but last week, while i was washing them, I accidentally used a brush that had bleach lmao, can they be dye to black? thank you!

    • You could try dyeing them black, but you’re likely to get a significant dye difference between the navy and the bleached portion, because bleach is so harsh on fabric.

  36. Martia says

    Do you have a suggestion on what type of dye to use when dyeing shoes? Do you have any tips for dyeing shoes that criss-cross?


    • I prefer iDye as a dye. I can’t really give tips on individual shoes over the internet, but painting only one set of straps of the time, and using bits of card to prop them apart, might give you a better result. Best of luck.

  37. Bri says

    I’m having trouble with the the dye coming out the correct color. I dyed my nylon dress turquoise but it came out kelly green. My daughter dyed her satin bridal shoes blue but they came out purple. Any suggestions?

    • Did you pre-test the dye you mixed up on fabric samples of the same fibre as your dress and shoes to ensure the dye was dyeing true? Were your dress and shoes white, or another colour. If the shoes were slightly pinkish, it would make a blue dye look purple. Finally, dyes may not dye true on pre-treated garments and shoes, and you can’t always tell if a garment or pair of shoes has been treated.

      Just some ideas that might help.

  38. Joann Hollis says

    Thanks for this comprehensive tutorial! I want to dye lots of things now, but mainly… I have these incredibly comfy Mootsies Tootsies natural linen and jute espadrilles. Of course, I now want to buy a few more pairs and dye them to expand my work wardrobe for my casual-but-closed-toed office. I’ve gently cleaned them in the sink a couple times by soaking in lukewarm, slightly Dawned water. This has done well and doesn’t appear to have damaged the fabric at all, so hopefully I’m doing that right. My question is, once I’ve dyed and Scotchgarded a new pair, do I clean them the same way? The pair I have must be treated, as the dirt lifts right off, so I’m hoping the dyed ones will have reasonably easy care as well. Your input is greatly appreciated!

  39. Danielle says

    Hi I have a pair of champagne coloured shoes and I was wondering if they could be dyed or is there another way of changing them back to white? Possible a silly question but I have the perfect shoes but not the right colour.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    • No, sorry, you cannot change a fabric shoe from a darker colour to a lighter colour, only from a lighter to a darker.

  40. Velina Del Castillo says


    I have a particular shoe I would like to dye for my daughter as she is going to be the flower girl. I am having difficulty finding the color I need. I found white dress sandal. Crafted in synthetic leather and would like to dye it Fushia. How would I go about doing this and finding the right color.

    thank you,

    Velina Del Castillo

  41. Dear DreamStress,

    I’ve read all the comments but I’m still unsure of what I’m about to do.
    I have this pair of grey converse (fabric cotton/linen) and I wanted to dye them into a shade of red. Not a lighter colour but a darker one. (Like maroon). Would it be possible for me to dye them with red and get the result that I want? Or should I just use fabric paint instead just to be safe?

    Thank you for the tutorial! Any advice would be appreciated!


  42. Sandra says

    Hi there. Great tutorial. It was exactly what I was after…but… I am attempting to dye just one pair of shoes. To use an entire packet of dye seems a bit excessive. Would I just use a portion of the pack? Thanks.

    • That depends entirely on the colour you want. The deeper the colour, the more dye you’ll need. You do want your dye to be quite saturated, because it is only being painted on the shoe, rather than being soaked in it. You can start with a partial packet and keep adding dye and testing until you achieve the right colour.

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