If you need a little more bling in your life, consider bedazzling a pair of shoes. You can always buy them from the store, but can get very expensive, and it is often cheaper to just bedazzle them yourself. High heels and wedges are the most popular candidates for bedazzling, but you can also add some glitz and glam to more casual shoes, such as canvas sneakers or flip flops. The project can get a little time consuming, but the results are glamorous and totally worth it.
EditPreparing the Shoes
- Choose the shoes you want to bedazzle. You can bedazzle just about any type of shoe, from wedges to heels, canvas sneakers to flip flops. Plain shoes without a lot of embellishments (at least on the area you want to bedazzle) will work the best. News shoes will work the best, but you can use older ones as long as they are clean and in good condition.
- Because of how quickly they show wear and tear, flip flops and canvas sneakers should be new.
- Wipe the shoes down with a damp, cotton cloth. If the shoes are especially dirty, use rubbing alcohol instead. Be careful if the shoes are made out of leather, however; rubbing alcohol can discolor leather shoes. You don’t have to wipe down the entire show, but you need to wipe down the area you will be bedazzling.
- Plan out your design. You will be working with strong adhesives, so it will be difficult to fix mistakes. Take a look at your shoes and now and decide where you want the rhinestones to go. Because of how heavy the rhinestones can make the shoes, it’s not recommended that you cover the entire shoe. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Cover the entire heel portion on a pair of high heels or wedges.
- Cover just the fabric part on a pair of canvas sneakers.
- Consider covering just the rubber toe cap on canvas sneakers. Keep in mind that the rhinestones may fall off.
- Cover the straps on a pair of flip flops. Depending on the material, be aware that the rhinestones may fall off.
- Buy your rhinestones. Silver or clear rhinestones will work with just about any shoe. You can also use colored rhinestones, but make sure that they look good on your shoe. You can use rhinestones that are all the same shape and size, or play around with different shapes and/or sizes. If you are using rhinestones that are all the same size, it would still be a good idea to get a few odd sizes in order to fill in any gaps caused by curves.
- For a pair of high heels, wedges, or very expensive shoes, use tiny, high-quality rhinestones. Sizes between 5ss and 16ss will work especially well. Large, plastic rhinestones will look tacky.
- If you are covering a pair of casual or inexpensive shoes, such as canvas sneakers or flip flops, you can use larger and less expensive rhinestones.
- Buy or make a jewel setter, if needed. A jewel setter is a small, plastic stick with a ball of wax attached at the tip. If you can’t find one, roll a small piece of wax into a ball, and stick it onto a toothpick. The ball should be about the size of a pinhead.
- This is only necessary for tiny rhinestones. If you can easily pick the rhinestone up with your finger, you don’t need a jewel setter.
- You can also use a pair of jewelry tweezers. They look similar to cosmetic tweezers, except that the tip is longer and thinner. You can find them in the beading section of an arts and crafts store.
- Pour the rhinestones onto a tray. If you can’t find a tray, a clean, plastic lid would also work. Make sure that the flat, back side of each rhinestone is facing down, and the faceted side is facing up. This will make the rhinestones easier to pick up.
- If you are working with a lot of rhinestones, pour out only a small amount first.
- If you are working with different shapes and/or sizes, it would be a good idea to sort them out first. Use different trays/lids if necessary.
EditApplying the Rhinestones
- Apply a strong adhesive to a small patch on the shoe. Use a toothpick, skewer, or popsicle stick to apply the adhesive to a 1 by 2-centimeter patch on the shoe. If you are bedazzling a heel on a high heel or wedge, start on the edge or back of the heel; don’t start in the middle or top.
- It is easier to work in small patches. It also prevents the glue from drying out too fast.
- Use a strong adhesive, such as E6000 or GemTac. Regular white school glue or tacky glue won’t be strong enough for this.
- If the heel is covered in fabric, or if you are covering a canvas sneaker, you may be able to use a good-quality fabric glue instead.
- Pick up a crystal with the jewel setter. Lightly tap the wax tip against the top of the rhinestone. The rhinestone should stick to the wax. Don’t press too hard against the rhinestone, however, or it will get stuck to the wax and not adhere properly to the glue.
- Don’t panic if you get some wax residue on the crystal. You will take care of that later.
- If you are working with large, chunky rhinestones, you can pick it up with your fingers instead.
- You can also pick up the rhinestone with a pair of jewelry tweezers. Grip it by the sides.
- Press the rhinestone into the glue. Once the rhinestone sticks, carefully lift the jewel setter away. Use an orange stick or a toothpick to push the rhinestone into place, if needed.
- An orange stick is the same tool that manicurists use to push back cuticles. You can find it in the nail care section of more grocery stores and super markets.
- If you are using jewelry tweezers, be careful not to get any glue on them. If you did, wipe the glue off immediately.
- Apply the rhinestones to the rest of the shoe. Always work in small, 1 to 2-centimeter patches. You can place them right next to each other for the ultimate sparkly look, for further apart for something more subtle. If your rhinestones are all the same size, you may need to use an odd-sized one to fill in any gaps. If you are using a variety of sizes in a random pattern, start with the largest ones first, then fill the gaps in with smaller ones.
EditFinishing the Job
- Wait for the glue to set. How long this takes depends on what type of glue you are using, so read the instructions on the package carefully. For example, E6000 will take 24 to 72 hours to set.
- Drying times are not the same as curing times. If your glue has a curing time, then you must wait that long before wearing the shoes.
- Clean up any residue with acetone or rubbing alcohol. You can do this with a q-tip or a brush. If you are using a brush, make sure it’s one that you don’t care about, because it will ruin the fibers. Avoid soaking the area, however, or the acetone will dissolve the glue and cause the rhinestones to fall off.
- Always test the acetone on a spare rhinestone, especially if it is made out of plastic. It can fog or dissolve certain types of plastic.
- If the rhinestone is made out of plastic, try scratching the adhesive off first. If it won’t come off, try rubbing alcohol next; it is gentler than acetone.
- The adhesive will dry clear. If it is not very noticeable, it may sometimes be better to just leave it as it is.
- Buff the rhinestones with a soft cloth, if needed. This is only necessary if you got any wax or fingerprints on the rhinestones. Gently wipe them down with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth until the residue is gone.
- Treat the shoes with care. Some of the rhinestones may eventually fall off, especially if they are in an area that bends a lot (such as rubber toe caps on canvas sneakers or straps on a pair of flip flops). Even through the adhesive you used is very strong, avoid getting the shoes wet. This will help them last even longer.
- How many rhinestones you need depends on the size of the rhinestone and how much of the shoe you will be bedazzling. If you are covering the heel on a pair of wedges with tiny rhinestones, plan on using about 2000.
- If you get some glue onto the rhinestone while applying it, remove it immediately. Wipe it off with rubbing alcohol and try again.
- Don’t be afraid to switch from side-to-side or shoe-to-shoe, especially if the glue starts to get runny.
- The rhinestones will make your shoes heavier. Consider using a lighter shoe as a base.
- Avoid using cheap, plastic rhinestones on nice, expensive shoes. While cost-efficient, they will make your shoes look cheap and tacky.
- If you shoe already has embellishments on it, match the color of the rhinestones to them.
- Avoid using too much glue, or it will cause the rhinestones to turn foggy.
- If you run out of space, cover it with an embellishment that works with the design of the shoe, such as a bow, brooch, or shoe clip.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Clean shoes that are in good condition
- Flat back rhinestones (not “Hit Fix”)
- Strong adhesive (ie: E6000 GemTac)
- Tray or lid
- Jewel setter or jewelry tweezers
- Toothpick or orange stick
- Toothpicks, skewers, or popsicle sticks
- Soft cotton or microfiber cloth
- Acetone or rubbing alcohol