Hi folks! Your friendly neighborhood Mint here!
Recently, I’ve had people ask me about the broken shoes I bought to revamp, so I thought I’d put together a quick guide covering the process. You never know when you’ll come across doll shoes in need of some TLC!
As you can see Nomi is very distraught! She broke the heel off her shoe when dancing, and the white leather is looking dingy. What’s a doll to do?
Luckily Nomi’s friend Stephanie loves adding pizzazz to damaged goods!
Before we work on restoring the shoes, we need to repair them! There are multiple methods when it comes to fixing a broken heal, some better than others. For Nomi’s shoes, I carefully and slowly used a drill to add a tiny hole to the broken parts so I could insert a pin to add stability. Once the hole was drilled, I filled it with a super-strong glue (E-6000 is my preferred adhesive) and inserted the pin into the loose heel before attaching the pieces back together. I then gave the glue a full 72 hours to cure.
Once cured, I could still see a crack where the original break was located on the heel. I’m a picky Mint so I knew I wanted to revamp the heel color and add texture to help hide the imperfection. I decided to use a combination of techniques:
First, I covered the leather portion of the shoe with painter’s tape, taking care to ensure all sides were fully covered. I then used silver spray paint to change the color of the soles.
Around that time I was introduced to Meggilu House’s AMAZING holographic face-up tutorial (which you can view fully here—please check it out!). I couldn’t help but wonder, hey, if folks can use holographic powder on face-ups, why can’t I add it to shoes?
So following Meggilu’s guide linked above I added holographic powder to the soles of Nomi’s heels:
To fully cover the shoes I needed to apply two coats of powder, then I allowed the soles to dry for 48 hours.
Hair curler halves make the perfect drying rack for dolls shoes! ^^
Once the holo powder was dry I applied a layer of Mod Podge High Gloss for extra shine, making sure to give the gloss another 24 hours to dry before moving on to the next step. (Mod Podge High Gloss takes approximately two weeks to cure but dries relatively fast. If you use Mod Podge High Gloss, be sure not to get your project wet before the two week curing period is up!)
At this point, the shoes were useable again and I was pleased. But the white tops showed their age and the seams were yellowing. That needed fixing!
My original intent was to repaint the shoe using Angelus Leather Paint. Angelus Leather Paint works GREAT for vinyl and leather projects—I’ve used it to paint Obitsu dolls, and seen many people use it to customize shoes for their cosplay outfits.
But in order to use the paint it’s best to remove a shoe’s factory glaze, or else the paint won’t bond correctly. This can be done with a de-glazer or acetone. (Not nail polish remover as the color may stain your leather!) As always, when using chemicals you need to wear gloves and be in a well-ventilated area.
I opted for acetone, but when I tried to remove the glaze, I was met with a HUGE nightmare! Apparently when I bought these shoes from their original owner they had been exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period, causing the leather beneath the glaze to turn yellow. The leather was so damaged that chunks of it flaked off with each gentle stroke to deglaze (which makes me wonder if the shoes had also been exposed to water). I was horrified. I knew when I saw the damage there was no way I could revamp them with paint the way I completed past projects.
I had some extra holo Lycra from the leotard I made Nomi in my craft drawer, and I had seen videos of people restoring human-sized shoes with fabric… so I figured, why not try it with doll shoes?
I followed the tutorial for human shoes here and scaled-down the fabric amounts. To sum up the process, I applied glue (Mod Podge Matte, in my case) to the leather in small sections, held the fabric taught, then SLOWLY moved around the shoe, repeating the steps until the white was fully covered in fabric.
I did the same on the shoe straps.
There was some fabric gathered at the toes (which is hard to avoid when dealing with shoes this scale) so I added a tiny charm to cover the area before calling this project done.
So there you have it, folks! How I bought broken shoes for $5 and turned them into a beautiful, OOAK pair! The possibilities are endless, really, as long as you are patient!
Thanks so much and happy crafting!