Upcycled shoes

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A while ago I purchased a lovely pair of Clarks shoes in a very pale blue. I used them a lot whilst working one summer and they were great, until, one day, I got caught in a downpour. The pourous leather soaked the water up like a sponge and it took the dye with it. I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately, but the leather had become discoloured and a slightly less charming grey. 

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I hate throwing things away and I knew that no charity shop would accept my shoes in their current state, so I decided I would do something about it – there was nothing wrong with them that wasn’t cosmetic. Like a number of my “projects”, this was put to one side and left for a while. I was having a clear-out one afternoon and found the shoes. Searching the internet identified a range of leather dyes and a couple of hours later I had decided I was going to purchase a bottle of Fiebings dye and attempt to turn the leather into a mid-blue. 

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I had slightly underestimated the vividness of the dye and the leather turned out very blue! Being of the (initially) shy sort, I didn’t feel brave enough to wear these outright, but most importantly, the dye didn’t conceal the worst of the watermarks as I’d hoped – it made them worse in some places!

I dug some old denim scraps out of a box at Nottinghack – I had previously donated a small amount of old denim in the form of a couple of pairs of jeans. I have no idea where, or from whom, this idea arose (something on the internet a long  time ago I suspect) but I decided the way to go was to cover the more stained sections with denim. The shoes weren’t ever going to be water-resistant, so it didn’t matter too much which glue I used, so I grabbed a bottle of PVA and some small scissors from the workshop. 

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I applied a good layer of PVA to each section and cut a piece of denim larger than what I needed. I had played about with cutting templates from paper, but soon discovered it was easier to shape the denim once it was attached to the shoe. 

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It was just a case of applying scraps of denim in turn and carefully cutting around any “features” – the design of the shoe included some attractive stitches.

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I also tried to carefully align the weave of the fabric so that the grain was placed as attractively (and consistently) as possible. It was also tricky to find the right colour of denim – one of the pairs of trousers had been stonewashed and keeping the colour consistent was tricky. I also tried to dab glue along the edges of the fabric to reduce any fraying that might occur with use.

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And that’s it! An asymmetric design, accomplished in one evening. I can also report that the shoes wear no differently to before and are as comfortable as ever!

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