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How to Make Indigo Dip-Dye Sneakers

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

You probably already know that indigo is the hottest trend in fashion and decor, right? This is maybe why you would like to learn how to update your pair of white sneakers. Give them a dip-dye indigo look by following our step by step instructions.

Supplies

Shoes rubber bands tape
other shibori dipdye sneakers supplies
  • rubber bands in two sizes
  • a pair of plain white sneakers
  • duct tape (or Vaseline and baking powder)
  • two small pieces of cotton fabric
  • a wet cloth or hankie
  • scissors
  • latex gloves
  • apron
  • 20g of pre-reduced indigo, 250g of reducing agent (thiox or hydrosulfate) and 250g of soda ash, which you can find in this indigo dye kit
  • 19L (5 gallon) plastic bucket with a lid
  • stick for stirring (make sure it's long enough to reach the bottom of your bucket)
  • small container for the foam/"flower"
  • sheet of plastic to cover the floor
  • shallow pan to hold your fabric

1. Prepare the Indigo Vat

First, you need to set up the indigo vat. Just follow the step-by-step instructions we prepared for you in our Shibori Fundamentals tutorial. If you plan to use fabric dye and not natural indigo, you can follow the instructions in the second part of this Ne-maki tutorial.

prepare the indigo vat

Once your indigo vat is set, cover the bucket with a lid and let the dye settle from 15 minutes to one hour, which is more than enough time to prepare your sneakers.

2. Prepare the Sneakers

Step 1

First of all, remove the laces and set them aside.

remove the laces
set the laces aside

Step 2

Before dipping your sneakers in the dye, it is advisable to protect the rubber sole. This step is of course if you want to keep this part white. To do this, take the duct tape and cover the sole of the shoe. While placing the tape, take care to keep a straight edge and to fully cover the sole.

cover the rubber sole in duct tape

Once you have covered the perimeter of the shoe, trim the tape.

trim the tape

When the tape completely covers the sole, make sure to carefully rub it with your fingers to keep it well in place.

rub it with your fingers to keep it well in place

Repeat the process on the other shoe.

Another way to avoid colouring the sole is by using Vaseline. If you prefer to do it this way, just take a generous dollop of Vaseline and cover the rubber edge of the sole. Afterwards you can remove the Vaseline using some baking powder and an old toothbrush to scrub it away.

Vaseline on the rubber soles

Step 3

Find two small pieces of scrap fabric, preferably cotton or other natural cloth, and place them inside each shoe. These pieces of fabric not only will keep your sneakers puffed, but also they will get dyed with a lovely abstract pattern.

Put scrap fabric inside the shoes

Make sure to squeeze the fabric inside the shoe. Keep the fabric as wrinkled as possible. The more wrinkles, the better the pattern you'll achieve once it is dyed.

squeeze the fabric inside the shoe

Step 4

Now take some rubber bands and place them on the front part of your shoe.

Place rubber bands on the front part of your shoe

Keep adding rubber bands to create a striped design.

Keep adding rubber bands to create a striped design

Add some larger rubber bands. They are more efficient at creating a design, as they cover a bigger surface, blocking the dye.

Add some larger rubber bands

Repeat the same process on the other shoe.

Repeat the same process on the other shoe

3. Dip Dip Dip

Step 1

Now your shoes are almost ready for the dyeing process. First, thoroughly soak them in water.

thoroughly soak the shoes in water

Step 2

With your rubber gloves on, take your sneakers and quickly dip the shoes in the indigo vat. The dipping should be fast and you shouldn't hold the shoe in the dye for more than a few seconds for this first dip. Make sure to surpass the lace line, so that the dye will enter the shoe and dye the fabric inside it as well.

quickly dip the shoes in the indigo vat

Remove the shoes and then quickly dip them once more in the dye, holding them a bit higher, so that a smaller part is in the dye. This part will get a bit darker.

Remove the shoes and then quickly dip them once more in the dye holding them a bit higher

Step 3

And now lift them a bit more, so that an even smaller part is submerged, and leave them just a few more seconds.

Step 4

Gently remove your sneakers from the vat and set them aside for about 20 minutes to completely oxidize. Don't forget to close the bucket with the lid.

remove your sneakers from the vat

4. Let Dry and Wear

Step 1

Once your sneakers are oxidized, wash them with mild detergent in warm water and hang them to dry in the shade.

hang the shoes to dry in the shade

Step 2

Remove the fabric that is squeezed inside the shoe and let it dry separately.

Remove the fabric that is squeezed inside the shoe and let it dry separately

This is how your fabric will look like once dyed. Isn't it brilliant? You could make a purse, a clutch or even a tote bag using these two pieces of fabric.

dyed fabric

Step 3

Remove the rubber bands.

Remove the rubber bands

Step 4

Also remove the duct tape from the rubber part of the sole. In case some dye has  penetrated the tape and reached the sole, just take a wet cloth or a wet hankie and gently rub it till the sole is white.

remove the duct tape from the rubber part of the sole
Clean white sole

Step 5

Once your shoes have dried, it is time to return the laces to your shoes.

return the laces to your shoes

Ta-dah!

Complete dyed sneakers

Enjoy!

Pop them on and prepare for compliments!

In this tutorial you learned how to give a plain pair of white sneakers an indigo makeover. You learned the dip-dye technique with a twist of tie dye, using some rubber bands to block the color and create a geometric design on the toes of your sneakers. Plus, you learned an easy way to dye some fabric with a gorgeous abstract pattern.

Can't get enough of indigo? Follow my Shibori for Beginners series of tutorials and learn how to tie-dye with me.

Shibori dyed sneakers
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