Help! Can you dye Canvas Shoes???
  • I'm not sure where I should be posting this so forgive me if I'm in the wrong place!

    I just bought a really cool pair of canvas wedges online and the only color they had available was baby blue. :( Because of this I have been trying to find different methods to dye them to no avail. I ordered the Jet Black dye and Soda Ash just in case I choose to take the plunge and dye them.

    So what I want to know is, has anyone here dyed canvas shoes before? Do you know someone who has? Is there anything you think I should know?

    FYI: I've never dyed anything before. I'm planning on putting the dye on a sponge or something and dabbing it on the shoe...

    Oh and the sole of the shoe is genuine leather and is a tan color. I would be willing to dye that too if it's possible. Thanks in advance for the help! :)
  • I've dyed cotton canvas shoes, cheap knockoffs of Keds, with the rubber sole and toe cap. I used multiple colors and had great results. The canvas must be made of cotton or hemp or linen to dye well; synthetics are not good for this.

    There are two concerns: is there anything about the shoe that will be damaged when you wash them a lot to remove the excess dye afterwards? And, is the canvas at all water-repellent? To test the latter, drop some water drops on the shoe, and see whether they bead up, or soak in. If they soak in, you're good to go.

    (You bought the Jet Black Procion MX dye, right, not the Jet Black Acid dye and not another dye? This is important.)

    This is the method I've used on canvas shoes: Remove any removable insole inside the shoe, and remove laces. (You can dye cotton laces separately, but unles slabeled as cotton, most shoelaces are undyeable synthetics. Dharma Trading Company sells dyeable shoelaces.) Soak the shirts in soda ash solution (I use one cup of soda ash per gallon of water, but half as much will work fine, too), let the excess drip off. Since you want black you'll need a LOT of dye in your dye solution, perhaps three tablespoons per cup. Most people add a tablespoon of urea per cup of dye, but this is optional. (Other colors do not require nearly as much dye, but black is special.) Paint or squirt your black dye on until the shoes are thoroughly soaked. If you did not use urea, wrap the shoes in plastic to keep them moist overnight, and put them in a warm place (at least 70°F or 21°C). The next day, rinse the shoes in cool water, then wash them with detergent, preferably either Synthrapol or the type sold especially for use on dark-colored garments, several times, in the hottest water you think they will be able to tolerate. Let them air dry, put back in the insole and any laces, and you're done.

    There may be some unevenness to the color produced this way. For maximum smoothness of color, you need to use a bucket with a lot more water in it, as well as a lot of salt, and immersion dye your shoes, instead, stirring them around a lot and adding the soda ash in three separate portions. See Method One for Immersion Dyeing Cellulose Fibers on this website's Procion MX dyes instructions page. It might be difficult to keep the shoes submerged.

  • Thank you so much for your help! I actually ended up finding a shoe repair shop that dyes shoes and I took them in and he said it would be no problem! I would have considered dyeing them myself had I seen this post before then! I appreciate you taking the time to write out the steps and your experiences. Next time I will definitely go by your method. :D Take care!
  • You're probably better off going with the pro, in this case. I'm a little worried about what all that water would do to a leather sole. It's really only a good idea for washable shoes.

  • With the leather sole, you might be better off using paint, instead of dye. They shoes wouldn't breathe as well, but you could still get pretty good results painting it on the fabric, and not have to worry about getting the leathre wet.
    You can use paints like Neopaque, etc. on leather, but lots of shoe repair shops sell leather dye, which would probably give you better results.
  • Hi dyemyshoe,
    Can you give me the name and number of the shoe repair shop that you brought your shoes to? Also the city and state where it's located? I have the same dilemma as you. Thanks so much for sharing.