Embroidered Sneakers

I’m still doing embroidery, and I decided, after the tragic loss of my baseball cap, that my next project would be to embroider a pair of sneakers. You may have seen all sorts of embroidered Converse on Etsy and elsewhere, and they are adorable. However, I wasn’t sure if mine would end up adorable, and sometimes Converse feel great on my feet and sometimes they do not. So I decided to go with a pair of always comfortable and very thrifty Hey Dude sneakers instead.

This turned out to be a not-terribly-great decision, because embroidering toward the toe was very tricky! The sides of a high top Chuck Taylor make a much more accessible canvas. But I did it, and while I don’t necessarily recommend it, I took photos along the way, so I’ll show you what I did, anyway.

First, I have a massive supply of embroidery thread due to a Covid-times Amazon purchase, one of those deals where you may as well get a huge amount of thread because it’s only a little more expensive than a reasonable amount of thread. So the first step in any new project is to pick my colors. In this case, I wanted to pick colors based not just on what I thought would make pretty flowers, but also what colors I could use that would make the shoes match different outfits I’m likely to wear. My first priority was to have some blues to go with jeans. Then I originally wanted to do both red and pink, because I like both of those colors, but they don’t necessarily go with each other unless they’re in a freeform imaginary meadow that I’ve embroidered.

But when I looked at them against the very-pale-peachy color of the shoe, they just didn’t look nice to me, so I ended up doing more of a coral thing.

Once I picked my colors, I drew up some potential flowers and made myself a little template so that I could think about where the flowers would fit. but then I forgot and recycled the drawn-on templates, so here’s a picture from just before I did that, with my different flower colors grouped together.

Next I put all of my colors on little bobbins on a ring to keep them handy, and I drew some flowers directly on the first sneaker with water erasable pen, and then I got going! At this point, I realized that embroidering at the toe was tough! I’d also started out with the vague plan to continue some stems and plants from the top part of the shoe onto the sides of the shoe, but this proved to be extremely challenging, and I soon abandoned it.

There may or may not have been the occasional injury. . . .

Luckily, I was able to wash the blood out.

One of the things that I love about the disappearing ink is that when I’m in the middle of a project, I’m always hyper-aware of the flaws, and the thread on top of the blue lines looks like a terrible mess, but then, once I’m done, I just dip my project into some water and the messy extra lines disappear and I immediately feel much more satisfied with my work. Here are the finished sneakers!

They definitely look cuter from a discreet distance, but people don’t usually put their faces right next to your shoes, anyway. The bees were a last-minute impulse add, but I find them extremely pleasing.

And yes, they are a bit of a mess inside, but I can wear them just fine. I showed them to Cute W and he said, “Oh, they’re so cute! I love the bees! You’re going to get so many compliments on them… until someone steals them.” 🙁

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