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How to Easily Decorate your Chuck Taylors or Canvas Shoes

Updated on September 15, 2010
A pair of GD baby shoes made from recycled thrift store shoes, acrylic paint, and the method listed below.
A pair of GD baby shoes made from recycled thrift store shoes, acrylic paint, and the method listed below.

Decorate your shoes?

There are so many ways to decorate canvas shoes. You can personalize them online, get them painted by a professional, color them with Sharpies, paint them yourself, stick things to them, and probably do a zillion other things I don't even know about.

But if you have very little artistic talent and you want something unique, the options are often on the costly side.

While trying to solve this dilemma myself, I came up with this method, and it works pretty darn well!

The best part is that you need little to no artistic talent, and you can still have Bella, Edward, Harry Potter, the Grinch, Eeyore, a photo of your pet, or your favorite Manga characters on your shoes by following these simple steps.

You Will Need:

  • canvas shoes
  • tacky glue
  • computer-printable iron-on transfers
  • an image design you like (as a digital image)
  • a piece of thin white cotton, such as muslin
  • acrylic paints, if desired, in complementary colors

Close-up of the fabric / transfer image
Close-up of the fabric / transfer image

Step One: Print

Shrink the image to a size that will fit on the side of the shoe.

Print it on the transfer paper, making sure to set the print to "mirror image" so that all letter and designs come out on the transfer opposite than usual.  They will become righted when ironed on later.  Follow direction in transfer paper package.

Another close-up
Another close-up

Step Two: Get it on the fabric

  • Cut out your design with a bit of border around it from the transfer paper.
  • Place on the white cloth fabric.
  • Iron the design onto the white fabric, following the iron-on transfer package instructions.  This will most likely require you to cover the transfer with a light cloth or towel.
  • Cut design out of white fabric and transfer paper, cutting off the rest of the border from the transfer paper.

Chuck Taylors make a great canvas for any type of decoration.
Chuck Taylors make a great canvas for any type of decoration.

Step Three: Stick it to the shoe!

  • Apply a generous coat of Tacky glue to the back of your transfer / muslin "patch."
  • Stick it on the shoe in the desired location. Smooth out all bubble, and wipe away excess glue around the patch. Make sure the edges have glue under them so they don't lift up.
  • Wait for glue to dry. Fabrics stuck together with Tacky Glue are extremely hard to peel apart!

Step Four: Decorate and Wear!

If you want to, decorate the rest of the shoe with acrylic paints. Use complementing colors.

If you have no artistic skill, make dots, swirls or lines.

Have fun and make them as unique as you are!

(note: avoid getting these completely soaking wet)


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    • MoRita profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from IL

      I honestly don't remember which I used at the time I wrote this. Sorry. :0(

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Do these brands of transfer paper work on canvas shoes? If not can you recommend some to me?

    • MoRita profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from IL

      Will the transfer fall off the fabric or will the image fall off the shoe? I think either may happen over time, though the incidence of the first may be less if you get a good brand of iron on transfer paper. I've found that tacky glue sticks pretty darn well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey, once you do the transfer will the picture start to peel and fall off? Or should it be fine? THANKS.


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