Shoe-How-To of the Week: Pretty Pretty Pink Princess Shoes

One of the coolest things about the Devonshire leather 18th century shoes is that you can paint them and decorate them easily, using leather paints, rhinestones, bias binding, trims, lace, anything really.

I thought I’d try my hand at creating a version of one of my favorite pairs of extant shoes, found in the Manchester City Galleries:
Manchester City Galleries – 1770, made of wool and silk

Want to follow along?  Here’s how it went…
Start with a pair of Devonshires
1. First, wipe the shoe with Angelus Leather Preparer.  This takes off the sealer that’s sprayed on the leather, allowing your paints to stick.
Important stuff!
2. Next, start painting.  You can mix Angelus Leather Paints just like regular acrylic paints, to achieve various colors.  I wanted a bright-arse Barbie pink, so I added red to my soft pink.  Remember that the color dries darker.
3. For the diamond pattern, I chose to paint mine on by hand, but applying silver trim, using your glue pen, would also be awesome and probably look better than what my shaky hands produced.  If you are thinking of using a metallic paint, be sure to get the leather paint, as it’s far thicker and easier to use than regular acrylic.
4. And because I’m cheesy, I put a few rhinestones on the toe of the shoe.
5. When all your painting is complete, brush on a coat of acrylic finisher to seal everything in and keep it looking swish.
6. Now it’s time for binding.  You can’t run a needle through these leather shoes, but glue works splendidly.  Use a glue pen, like the one shown here, and little-by-little, apply the bias to the edges of the shoe, clamping with the chip clips to keep in place while the glue dries.  This is a very time consuming step, but it looks fab in the end.
Binding can be difficult.  Use the clips to aid you.  When you get to the zig zag, trim the bias and hold in place.  A piece of ribbon or any kind of trim would also work here.
I bound the latchets, the tongue, and also ran a strip down the seam at the back, and where the white parts of the latchets meet the pink.
7. And there ya go. Add a buckle – if you’ve bound your latchets, I recommend the square rhinestone slide, or the round rhinestone slide buckles, as the binding adds extra bulk to the latchets, and you’ll have a hard time fitting them through the other slide buckles we sell.  You can also loop your latchets, or use genuine shoe buckles, to keep your shoes closed.
These Pretty Pretty Pink Princess Shoes are pretty over-the-top, but there are literally hundreds of images of extant 18th century shoes to inspire your creativity.  I’ve collected some on my “Historical Shoes” Pinterest board here.
P.S. I don’t get a kick-back from Dharma Trading Co, or Angelus.  The Angelus products just really are great, and Dharma has a huge selection and great prices.  đź™‚


  • Kristin

    October 26, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    How would these painted shoes hold up walking around outside, in grass? Especially earlier in the day when there's a bit of dew?

    And why can't you use a needle on this leather?

  • Lauren R

    October 28, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Kristin, the leather paints are acrylic latex, and the finishing is a nice coat of the same. The little rhinestones I glued on may eventually chip off if I'm rough with the shoes, but none of that paint is ever coming off of these shoes again! They are completely waterproof.

    I suppose you could use leather needles and an awl to punch through the leather – I only meant you can't whipstitch on the binding easily. 🙂

    I haven't worn these yet. I'm still working on the second shoe. You definitely won't destroy any of the painting you've done on leather, so long as it's sealed with the acrylic finisher. Silk is a different story, though. Scotch guard those silk shoes after you've decorated them.

  • The Laced Angel

    October 29, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    DUDE. Those are fantastic! I love how well the leather paints up.
    I'm still nervous about doing my silk ones, and I haven't even started planning what they'll look like yet. Have you or anyone you know tried Dharma's silk painting dyes yet? I'm curious how well they work.

  • Mikey

    April 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Hey Lauren,

    I hope you still notice this…
    I have finally found a dutch shop that sell the Angelus paint (as I read here and on many other sites Angelus is the best paint)!!
    And this shop sells 2 sizes of bottles: 29,5ml and 118ml, Do you know how much I need to dye one pair of devonshires?


    • Lauren

      April 19, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      Hi Mieke,
      Yep, Angelus is the best stuff. You don't need any more than the 1 ounce bottle (the small bottle). That is plenty to cover several pairs of shoes. Remember, apply the paint in thin coats, at least two or more coats, instead of one thick coat. 🙂

  • Chelsea

    January 7, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I'm working on a plan to decorate my Devonshires, and this post has been very helpful! I have one question, though. I see you recommend using the large square slide buckles (I'm assuming these are the ones at your Etsy shop) after you've bound the latchets, but how do you make the shoes fit properly? The slide buckles are just decorative, right? Do you use velcro to keep the latchets closed?

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