Shoe Win: How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

So…I may be completely crazy for doing this…but I painted my Swedish Hasbeens. Now, before you pull your hair out in disagreement, I feel like I ieould mention that I have literally NEVER worn these shoes out and I have had them for YEARS. No exaggeration. Which is exactly why I decided to paint them. So that I could actually wear them.

Okay, so now that I’ve over explained myself. Let’s get to the before and after photos. Here’s the side by side…

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

I’ve been searching for a more colorful neutral lately, so I went with a rich wine color. Which works with pretty much every outfit I own…or close to it. Mission accomplished. Now I can finally get some use out of these puppies.

To dye leather like a pro, you’ll need a good textile dye, a paint brush, and some painter’s tape. My favorite textile dye is Dye-na-Flow by Jacquard. That’s what I used for this project and the leather bound notepads DIY. Good stuff! AND it also helps if you’re dyeing a lighter leather, like mine. 

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

First things first – be sure to tape off the areas that you do not want the dye to go. You want to make sure the tape is nice and secure to get a crisp clean line. This really helps to make the finished shoe look like it was always the new color (as opposed to painted on, which isn’t always a cool look).

As for the dyeing, it works just like paint. The only difference is that it’s less forgiving than paint. You need to apply pretty even coats for the leather to maintain an allover color that doesn’t appear blotchy. It’s still simple to do though, even with a larger surface area to cover. You’ll just have to go over the entire area several times with a paint brush and more dye to get even coverage that builds up over a few layers.

More Tips: I also found that painting in just one direction and not overfilling your brush with dye helps with getting even coverage.

Once you’ve reached the desired color, allow the dye to dry completely before using. You can get your blow dryer out to speed up the process, if you’re impatient like me.

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

DIY // How to Dye Leather Shoes Like a Pro

Photography by Linda Jednaszewski
Concept and styling by Brittni Mehlhoff

So now that you know how to dye leather shoes like a pro, think you’ll give this DIY a try? I bet there’s at least one pair of shoes in your closet that you could get some new use out of it with a quick dyeing facelift.

64 comments | Click here to reply

Good luck Cathie! I think this would be a perfect experiment for sandals….especially if you haven’t worn them in a while.


I am intrigued. I have a pair of Doc Martens sandals that I haven’t worn in years, that would look super cool dyed. Praying for courage…..


Hi Sreynolds. I bought mine locally, but you can also get it on Amazon. The color I used can be found right here: but there are plenty of other colors on Amazon as well. Just search Dye na Flow. Hope that helps.


Were do you buy your dye at? Love this idea of dyeing shoes ect.


[…] Who knew dyeing leather could be this […]

Friday Links! - The Crafted Life

[…] ¿Quieres renovar tus sandalias? Pues este tutorial para teñir piel te irá perfecto. Además nos confesamos fans de estos […]

Ideas para el fin de semana - Demodé

thanks for posting! I have some Frye boots I’ve wanted to dye. I bought them online in “banana” not realizing how yellow they really were in person. I now have to buy some dye.


Hi Robin. There are lots of textile paints and dyes that also work on synthetic materials. Usually, it will say the types of materials the dye or paint will adhere to right on the label. The dye that I used (Dye na Flow) actually works on synthetic materials as well. So, it would be the same process that I shared in the tutorial. Hope that helps. 🙂


Great idea! Any tips for painting shoes that are man made fiber?
I found shoes I love so I bought a 2nd pair in a very light tan, with the plans to somehow paint them PURPLE. I was thinking that the paint they use to paint vinyl car seats might work. But I have yet to find a purple. AND I would rather not have a spray paint because the shoe has a flower on the front that would be hard to cover if spray painting. It might make a blobby mess. LOL
Any ideas?


Gotta try this with my leather purse. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


This is awesome! This would be such a fun way to revamp an old pair of shoes!



Thanks, Brittni! I’m going to give the heat setting a try. I’ve been wanting to extend the life of my white handbag by dyeing it for ages!


Wow. I love what you did there!


Ha. I completely agree…life is too short for ugly shoes. 🙂


Very nicely done! Oh, I love red shoes! They go with everything! (: I like buying cheap shoes and dressing them up by dyeing and other DIY methods like painting on them/sewing beads etc. Life is too short for ugly shoes! (:

Love your shoes – they look so cheery now!

xx Jia,


Thanks Lola and Amy.


I don’t think I have any leather shoes to dye… but I’m loving the idea!

Amy W

They turned out amazing , these are definitely on my try out list !


That’s a good question Kimberly. I would say that it probably depends on the type of dye you are using, but if you use the same one that I use, you can actually heat set the leather, either with an iron or with this stuff called Airfix if using an iron isn’t practical. For best results, the leather should be untreated. Hope that helps.


Love that wine color! Do you think this DIY would work just as well with a handbag…or would the dye rub off on clothing?

Leave a reply