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How to Customize Black Converse

by Joanne Thomas

Whether you prefer to paint, stitch, bedazzle or embellish your pair of black Converse, no matter the style, the shoes' canvas fabric makes an ideal background that can easily be customized in various ways to become a showcase for your creative ideas and artistic flourishes. Take the time to design the customization and plan your method before getting started -- either on paper or in your head -- and those beloved Chucks will have a new place of pride in your wardrobe.

Paint and Pens

Paint your shoes with fabric paint and a brush, or paint pens. If you want to use paint pens that aren't designed for use on fabric, paint a background layer of fabric paint over the shoes before adding your design. Remove the shoelaces, wash the shoes if they're dirty, and stuff them with newspaper to give yourself a firmer surface. Tape off any parts of the shoes that you don't want to paint. Some designs -- such as polka dots, stripes, chevrons, hearts and stars -- are easy to paint even if you're not especially artistic. Finish your shoes with a few coats of clear acrylic spray or silicone spray to make the painted design more durable.

Embroidery and Embellishments

You can stitch decorative patterns or motifs directly onto the canvas of your shoes with embroidery floss and a sharp embroidery needle. If you're experienced, your stitching can be more detailed and complex, but even the simplest designs can be very effective. You can stitch a band of plus signs or zigzags around the lower perimeter of the shoes with only a series of running stitches. Starburst designs also consist of straight lines only. Consider stitching beads and buttons onto the shoes, or embellishing the shoes with hardware like studs and grommets, which are sold in kits with all the necessary tools and instructions.

Glitter and Glitz

If you're a fan of all things sparkly, cover your black Converse shoes entirely with glitter by coating the shoes with fabric glue, pouring glitter onto the glue and then shaking off the excess sparkle. You can also mix glitter into clear-drying glue and then paint the substance all over the surfaces of the shoes. Small glitter tends to stick in place better than larger glitter. Remember to tape off any parts of the shoes that don't need to be bedazzled. You can get creative with different glitter colors on different parts of the shoes, or you can make colored stripes, polka dots, stars or other designs. Coat the shoes with clear acrylic spray or silicone spray to help set the glitter in its place.

Appliqués and Adornment

Appliqués are fabric shapes that you can sew or glue onto fabric. Even if you use fabric glue to apply appliqués to your shoes, it's a good idea to hand-stitch around the edges to keep them in place more securely. If the appliqué is made from a fabric that frays, press the raw edges under before stitching the shape in place, unless you want a ragged, frayed look. To add more color to the design, sew the appliqué in place with a decorative stitch using thread or embroidery floss in a contrasting color. For a subtle customization, trace appliqués to fit over the tongues of your shoes.

About the Author

A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.

Photo Credits

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