Dyeing suede

Margot Silk ForrestMaybe you think dyeing suede is pretty hard to do. After all, suede is a very delicate type of leather and how can you possible dye it without ruining its lovely soft nap?

As with all other shoe painting and recoloring, the key is to use the right product. I have been happily dyeing suede boots and shoes and sandals for years using suede dye from Angelus. The only gotcha is that you have to dye your shoes or bag a darker color. Dye is not opaque, like our Lumiere and Neopaque paints are, so it won’t cover a darker color.

Bearing that in mind, try it!  IMG_2010Here is my latest quick & easy dye job — a pair of Minnetonka moccasins (SO comfortable) that I purchased in a pinky lilac shade because they didn’t have any in the intense purple I wanted!  I chose Angleus Suede Dye in Purple. I purchased a 3 oz. bottle, which is plenty for a pair of shoes. If you are doing boots, you will need more.

Angelus Suede DyeFirst I brushed off my new mocs with a stiff brush to remove any loose bits of leather, then I untied and unlaced the ties so they hung straight down from the point where they emerged from their casing.

dyeing suede shoesThen I taped over the sole and along the inside face of the pink suede using Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tape with Edge-Lock (more expensive, but worth it).

Finally, I followed the directions on the bottle to apply the dye with the little wool dauber that comes in the box. You can order more wool daubers if you want, but you won’t need them unless you change or mix colors. (Yes, you can mix the Angelus suede dyes or even lighten them by adding Neutral.) I recommend putting on latex or other protective gloves before dyeing – that stuff is hard to get off your hands! Also, be sure to protect the surface you are working on.

Daub on one coat and let dry (it will take awhile.) Then daub on a second coat, let dry and see if there are any areas that need touching up.

Dyeing suede You will notice as you daub on the dye that the stitching on the moccasin takes the dye differently than the suede — and sometimes differently than other stitching on the shoe. Decide that this is a feature, not a problem.

After your final touchups, let dry thoroughly, brush up the nap with a stiff brush (a nail brush works well), retie the laces, and enjoy!

Once you get a feel for dyeing suede, you can start getting adventurous. Here are some of the adventures we’ve had. (All of these shoes have been featured on this blog, so you could check the Suede category at right and they will come up for you to read the details.)

Collage of dyed suede shoes

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