Big initial M A year ago, I copied a pair of designer sneakers that were embellished with glitter and chains, and wrote about it in this blog. They were pretty complicated to do, but I was quite happy with the results.

Chain sneaks after angle at 72 dpi I liked the way they jangled a bit when I walked, and later I got some glittery silver laces for them. Then, sometime last summer, I noticed I hardly every wore them.

Hmm. So I put them on and looked down at my feet. All I could see were those BIG WHITE RUBBER TOE CAPS!

Big white toe @ 72 dpi Now, I DO wear a size 9, and these particular hightops come from Payless, where they don’t make a nice small round toe cap, like you get on Chucks. So it wasn’t just the whiteness that bugged me.

But I still felt like Moby Toes. So I decided to change the color of the toe. Now, since sneaker toes are rubber, you can’t paint them and expect the paint to stick very long. You can color them with Sharpies, but the color fades pretty quickly.

Flip flop glue The best thing to do is to glue something on top of those toes, preferably fabric.  There is a great glue called Flip Flop Glue that works well to adhere fabric to rubber. I wrote about it awhile back when I used this technique to cover the white rubber strip at the bottom of some platform sandals. (If you use the Search box on this page and type in FLIP FLOP GLUE, it will take you to a couple other posts where I’ve mentioned it.)

So I started searching through my fabric stash to find colors, patterns, and textures that would work with the glitter-and-chains look. I pulled out some Ultrasuede scraps, some printed fabric, and a couple of stencils.

Then I needed to create a template for cutting out the fabric. This is actually quite easy. Here are the steps.

1.  Cut out a piece of lightweight paper a little bit larger than the toe. Be sure it has one straight edge.

Toe Step 1 at 72 dpi Toe Step 2 at 72 dpi 2.  Line the straight edge up against the straight edge of the rubber toe cap. Hold it in place with one hand.

3.  With your other hand, use the edge of your thumbnail to press a crease into the paper along the ridge where the toe cap meets the sidewall of the sneaker.

Toe Step 3 at 72 dpi 4.  Remove the paper, mark the crease with a dark pen and label it TOP LEFT or RIGHT. This is for two reasons. First, once you cut out your template, it’s easy to forget which side was up. Second, the rubber toe caps on your left and right sneakers WILL NOT BE exactly the same size and shape!

5.  Cut out the shape with scissors. See if it covers the toe cap, and if not, trim it or make a new, larger shape. Frankly, it doesn’t need to be perfect, especially on the rounded part. Any discrepancy is barely visible from above.

6.  Now repeat the process for the other toe.

Voila! You have two little patterns you can use to cut out covers for your toe caps. Place them on top of your choice of fabric, draw an outline with a marker, and cut!

The last step is to squeeze a generous squiggle of Flip Flop Glue on the underside of the fabric. The glue is white, but it dries clear. Now take an old credit card to use as a squeegee and spread the glue evenly.  You want the glue to cover the entire area, though it doesn’t need to be thick.  Press the fabric covering in place over the toe and wait for it to dry before wearing. (The package says 24 hours.)

Here are the different fabrics I used and what they look like in place.Toe black at 72 dpi  Toe blue at 72 dpi

On the left is black Ultrasuede, on the right is blue Ultrasuede.

Toe dotted fabric at 72 dpi Toe strawberry fabric at 72 dpi These two are cotton quilting fabrics. You don’t have to worry about the fabric fraying because it will have glue all over the back of it.

Toe glitter at 72 dpi Toe spiral at 72 dpi

On the left is a toe covering of Ultrasuede that’s been painted and glittered the same way the hightops were (with Neopaque Black paint and Starlet Glitter It! paint). On the right is Ultrasuede that’s been stenciled with Neopaque Black. You’ll get great results stenciling on Ultrasuede and fabric because they absorb the paint, unlike leather.

Toe spiderweb at 72 dpi Cosmetic sponges And the winner is… This is black Ultrasuede that’s been stenciled with Lumiere Metallic Silver. (I found the stencil on Mary Beth Shaw’s blog.) To stencil, pour a small amount of paint on a flat surface (I use a paper plate), spread it around a little bit and dab up some paint with a cosmetic wedge. Then dab over the stencil. You can dab until you get the paint evenly applied, or you can do as I did above, and let the paint be uneven.

So if and when you get tired of BIG WHITE TOES on your cool hightops, you know what to do!


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