In today’s post: Learn how to make these pretty floral sneakers using napkins and mod podge. This fun decoupage project allows you to personalize canvas shoes with any pattern you can find on a napkin.
When I first heard of using napkins to personalize a pair of shoes I was skeptical. I mean, it sounds weird. And also…kind of fun. I’ve seen cool hand painted sneakers, but I don’t have that kind of artistic talent. But using Mod Podge to glue a cute napkin to a shoe? I figured I could do that.
DIY Floral Shoes
The great part is that it doesn’t look like all you did is glue a napkin to a shoe. This is decoupage, and it’s pretty cool! The mod podge makes it almost look like the canvas shoe has the design printed right on it, with a bit of a distressed feel. This is a really fun way to personalize a cheap pair of white canvas sneakers, and it’s a perfect craft for spring or summer. Remember, you can use any napkin you can find, so the sky’s the limit for different colors and patterns you can use to spruce up a cheap pair of sneakers.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own floral (or any other pattern you can find on a napkin!) shoes:
- Cheap white canvas sneakers: I chose to use sneakers that don’t have laces because that makes the decoupage process simpler. These shoes are from Walmart. (Use cheap shoes for this fun project; it turns out adorable but the napkin print will probably get some cracks and flake off in areas eventually.)
- Paper napkins: I found these cute floral napkins at Hobby Lobby. I tried a few different prints and the ones with a white background ended up looking best with the white shoes, especially because I did not cover the back of the shoe.
- Mod Podge: I used normal matte mod podge, as well as a matte spray sealant. If you are not planning to use a spray sealant, you will need to use mod podge made for fabric, as it is more water resistant that normal mod podge.
- Foam Paintbrush
- Painter’s Tape
- Exacto Knife: Make sure you have a new sharp blade for best results
- Matte Spray Sealant
- Piece of Plastic Wrap (not shown): this helps place the napkin without tearing it.
Will These Shoes Hold Up?
To make sure these shoes hold up to wear, you will want to finish them with at least two or three coats of Mod Podge and another two coats of a spray sealant. That should help them hold up to normal wear, although you may still see some wrinkling or cracking as you wear them. If you do see cracks, add another coat of Mod Podge over the area to ensure the napkin stays put. Also, please be aware you will not be able to submerge these shoes in water – and it’s probably a good idea not to wear them on wet or muddy days.
How to Make Floral Decoupage Sneakers
These shoes are not hard to make, but you do need to follow the directions closely. There are a few tips and tricks that will help the end result look much nicer, so I’m going to share very thorough instructions with you. Taking your time with help you get a more professional looking result.
Prep the Napkins and Shoes
Make sure you have a piece of plastic wrap handy; you will need it in step three.
For this craft, you’l use just the top layer of your paper napkin. Most paper napkins have two layers, but some have three, so you’ll need to pull a couple of napkins apart until you have just the top layer. You can put a piece of tape on the top and bottom of a corner of the napkin to make it very easy to pull apart. You will use one napkin per shoe.
Apply Mod Podge
Work on one shoe at a time. Using a foam paintbrush, apply a layer of mod podge all over the upper portion of the shoe. Make sure all of the canvas gets covered with mod podge, especially in small areas.
Remove the tape, and run your finger along the sole of the shoe to clean off any mod podge. Work quickly so the mod podge doesn’t dry.
While the mod podge is still wet, place a napkin on top of the shoe. Try to lay it down as flat as you can. Then grab the plastic wrap and wrinkle it up, and use that to tap the napkin down onto the shoe. DO NOT touch the napkin with your bare fingers; that will cause the napkin to tear. Just tap tap it gently with the plastic wrap. Make sure you cover the entire area that you painted with mod podge, and don’t worry too much about wrinkles.
Repeat with the other shoe. Allow the shoes to dry completely before continuing, at least one hour.
Trim away Excess Napkin
Once the shoes are dry, you can trim away the excess napkin. Use a sharp exacto knife and carefully cut right along the sole of the shoe, pulling off the napkin as you go. Carefully cut the napkin just inside the trim on the top of the shoe as well. You may end up with a few small piece stuck to the sole of the shoe – use your fingernail or the back of the exactly knife to gently scratch them away.
Patch any Holes
If part of the napkin tore while you were applying it and you ended up with a hole, don’t worry! You can patch it. Grab another piece of napkin (just the top layer) and tear a piece that’s slightly bigger than the area you need to patch. Tearing instead of cutting helps the napkin blend in better. Be sure you tear from a place that’s the same color as the area you are patching. Dab a small amount of mod podge over the area that needs patching, and then tap the patch down over it. Allow it to dry completely. (If you look closely at the photos of the finished shoes, you won’t be able to find the place I patched!)
Iron out wrinkles
Once the shoes are completely dry, you can gently run the tip of an iron over them. This will flatten out the wrinkles and make the shoes look MUCH better. Use an iron on medium heat and just gently touch the tip of it to the shoe, moving the iron around.
The wrinkles will become much less noticeable as you iron. **Note: try not to iron over the trim if you left it white, as the iron can transfer a little color from the napkin.** You can see how much less noticeable the wrinkles are after ironing in this photo:
Seal the Shoes
At this point, you need to seal the sneakers so you can wear them. First, you’ll paint the entire top of the shoes with mod podge. It will look cloudy when you put it on but don’t worry, it will dry clear. Allow the mod podge to dry completely, at least 4 hours. Then repeat with another layer of mod podge, and another few hours of drying. Finally, seal the shoes with a spray sealant, such as Krylon matte finish. (I recommend two coats of this as well with dry time in between.)
At this point your shoes are ready to wear! Remember, do not submerge them in water. You will see some wrinkles in them as you wear them, just like you do with any shoe. If any little edges or corners start to pull up, just paint over them again with mod podge and allow to dry.
- White Canvas Shoes
- Paper Napkin
- Mod Podge Matte
- Small Foam Paintbrush
- Painter's Tape
- Exacto Knife
- Spray Sealant
- Piece of Plastic Wrap
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- Grab a piece of plastic wrap and set aside. Pull a few napkins apart until you have just the top layer.
- Tape off any areas on the shoes that you don't want the napkin to be transferred to.
- Paint a layer of mod podge over the upper portion of the shoe, where you want the napkin to cover. Be sure to get into the corners. Wipe off any mod podge on the soles and then pull off the tape.
- Place the top layer of a napkin over the shoe. Wad up the plastic wrap and use it to gently tap the napkin down onto the shoe to adhere. Do not touch the napkin with your bare fingers. Keep tapping it with the plastic wrap until it is adhered to the shoe.
- Repeat with the other shoe. Allow both shoes to dry completely, at least an hour or two.
- Use an exacto knife to trim away the excess napkin. Carefully cut right along the sole of the shoe and pull away the napkin. Then carefully cut right along the trim of the shoe that you taped off and pull away the napkin. If any small pieces of napkin are stuck to the sole, use your fingernail or the back of the knife to gently scratch them off.
- Use the tip of an iron on medium heat to smooth down wrinkles on the shoe. Use the iron gently and keep it moving so it doesn't stay too long in one place.
- Paint over the entire shoe upper with a layer of mod podge and allow it to dry completely, about 4 hours. Then repeat with a second layer of mod podge. When that is dry, spray it with a spray sealant. Repeat with one more layer of spray sealant.