I regularly leaf through the pages of fashion magazines to see the latest in shoes, looking for designs I might want to adapt to my own use. My favorite magazine for this purpose is Elle, because they seem to show a lot more shoes than the other mags, which have the infuriating habit of showing pictures of the top three-quarters of any given model so you can’t tell what shoes she’s wearing!
A couple of months ago, I found three different shoe designs that could fairly be easily done by a dedicated DIYer. Today I’ll show you the first design I copied and tell you how I did it. This glittery gold sneaker is by UES Upper Echelon Shoes and it costs $299… on sale. Talk about “upper echelon” — the original price was $415!
I loved the detail of the chains and the glitter so I set out to make some for myself. Of course, as you’ll see from the photos below, high tops don’t look quite as darling in a size 9.5 as they do in a size 5, which is what they use for fashion photos….
I wanted to do mine in a dark glittery color to go with some wonderful black aluminum chain I had, so I bought black high tops from Payless. This pair actually came from their men’s department and cost $25.99. Shipping is free if you pick them up from your local store.
I started by removing the laces and painting the black canvas with Glitter It! glitter paint in Starlet. Starlet is a holographic glitter, which means that besides its silver glitter bits, it has special sparkly bits that are refracted to reflect a full spectrum of colors. It also works really nicely over black as you can see from the photo below.
The next step was to figure out how to add the chains since I obviously could not easily attach a double upper, as the UES designers did. I decided to stitch on little loops that would hold split rings, which would in turn serve as anchors for the chains.
Before I go any further, I want to tell you where I found the cool oversize black aluminum curb chain I used. It comes from www.generalbead.com and it’s called “BLACK 12mm ALUMINUM DIAMOND CUT CURB” chain and it’s item #CCA024. (Go to their home page, click on Chain & Cord, then click on Aluminum, and scroll down ’til you find it.) They also have the same chain in gold, item #CCB024. Either one costs $2.85 a foot. I used 2.5 feet for each shoe.
To figure out where I should place the anchor points, I started by stuffing the high top with tissue paper to mimic the shape and size it would be with my foot in it. Then I found the midpoint of the chain, placed it at the center just above the toe and draped down to the side. I stuck a long straight pins through the links where they hit the sides of the sneaker. They held nicely, thanks to the tissue stuffed tightly inside.
I kept playing with placement of the anchor points until I found an arrangement that I liked. Then I removed the chain, leaving the straight pins in place, and tried to figure out what to use to make sturdy loops that wouldn’t ravel. It boiled down to two choices: I could cut little rectangles of black leather from my scrap collection, or I could snip little bits off the soft side of black Velcro. I went with the Velcro. In retrospect, I should have used leather because it was hard to slide the split rings onto something so small, dark and fuzzy! Well, live and learn….
Here’s what the shoe looked like with the loops in place.
Had I been using smaller chain, I think I would have used four loops per side instead of three. If you are looking closely at the photo, you may notice that the rings attached to the loops are NOT split rings. They are jump rings. I tried these first and hooked them all up to the chain and slid my foot into my new chain-bedecked high tops — and all the jump rings popped open and flew across the room, much to the delight of our eternal kitten. More live and learn…
Let me back up just a bit. After I got the loops stiched on, I took a tape measure and measured the distance between each pair of loops, then I took my length of chain, marked the center point, and used the measurements to determine how much chain it would take to go between each set of loops. (I added a little extra for ease, but apparently not enough! On my second try I added more.) To mark each link that would have a split ring attached, I pinned a safety pin onto it.
Then it was a matter of sliding the split rings onto the chain first, then onto the loops. If you look at the picture of the finished shoe below, from the side and from the front, I think you’ll see what I mean.
I also colored the laces silver using Lumiere Metallic Silver squeezed into a little Baggie with a dollop of water and the wet shoelaces. I mashed them around a bit and let them sit for a couple of hours. They didn’t come out super silvery, but they’re much better than the white they were. I think I’ll browse online for skateboard shoe laces and look for bright red ones. These high tops deserve something special!
Why skateboard shoe laces, you may ask. Because they are long enough (54″) and come in great colors.
Instead of $415, I paid a total of $54.23 for my copies of what some Elle readers are wearing this winter. The best part? They JINGLE when I walk!