Hand Embroidered Wedding Shoes
Updated: Feb 2
A few months ago I had the opportunity to create something for a super sweet bride. Today's their wedding day (as evidenced by the shoes), so it's finally time to share! She chose to wear white Converse sneakers, and wanted the heel stripes embroidered with M R S ♥ and 10 ♥ 21 ♥ 22. This was such a rewarding project and I really loved crafting it.
Things You'll Need
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Navy embroidery floss -- I used DMC 823
Red embroidery floss -- I used DMC 326
Embroidering Converse heel stripes are NOT for the faint of heart. Big ol' shout out to bent chain nose pliers for saving my ass while embroidering super thick layers. You will most definitely stab yourself if you don't use pliers to push and pull the needle through the counter lining. It's time consuming and takes a lot of understanding of how needles and woven fabric interact without visual cues. Make sure you have a lot of time and patience set aside. If you're not super comfortable with embroidery, I'd recommend trying a different part of the shoe, or a different shoe altogether.
I started by measuring the heel stripe and figuring out the placement of the letters and hearts. I determined it was best to make the lettering about 0.25" high. I sketched it out on paper and tried to make a stencil to copy onto the shoes. That failed miserably because I couldn't comprehend how to hold the back of the shoes and copy the pattern to the fabric without it smearing everywhere. So I ended up free handing it, which came out perfectly.
I know it's not really kosher, but I always use a mechanical pencil that I wear down the point on scrap paper to be rounder and softer. I think it's easier to control and more visible than other methods. Just make sure you press very lightly and don't transfer a ton of graphite.
M R S ♥ 10 ♥ 21 ♥ 22
Once you're happy with the placement, you can start sewing.
I color matched six-strand embroidery floss to the red and blue of the shoes, so it would be cohesive. I was happiest with color 326 as the red and color 823 as the navy. Two strands was just the right thickness to be visible and legible without being excessively bold.
For embroidery, I like to use an arm's length of floss. It's enough for each character without getting tangled in itself. I found it easiest to start from the bottom and work up, creating less opportunities to mess up completed work. I back-stitched the numbers and letters, following my stenciled lines.
For the hearts, I outlined them with a back-stitch and filled with a satin stitch.
The most important part of this is to take your time and don't try to complete it in a rush. Your hands will tire quickly from the strain of the needle. Also, you'll demolish a few needles, though I found it really convenient to use a bent/broken needle to sew toward the insole of the shoe.
To finish everything off, I applied E6000 to the back of the stitches on the counter lining, because I wanted to protect the stitches from falling apart, since they're in a high friction area of the shoe. If you're embroidering the sides, tongue, or other areas of the shoe, this might not be as important. But between putting your foot in and out of the shoe and repeated up and down motion while walking, it's a simple solution to protect from destroying your hard work. While curing, I leaned the shoes so the glue was parallel to the ground, so it would be as level as possible. If you choose to add the glue, make sure you have at least 72 hours for it to cure before wearing.
Best wishes to the happy bride and groom, and thanks for letting me be a part of your big day!
The shoes survived both muddy fields during photos and lots of dancing! I really love the dirt and wear, I think it's a beautiful reminder of every moment they shared on their wedding day.