Not long ago on Ebay I garnered another gorgeous pair of 1940s heels for my collection at a great low price - and they fit! The shape is lovely, with classic 1940s styling and as always, beautiful detail.
But they needed some TLC. The seller said they needed a good cleaning, and they did. Originally a lovely off-white linen, they were grayish in tinge - more noticeable in real life than in the photos - and had multiple spots and bumps.
They also had, very faintly, a white design on the toe around the rhinestones and faux pearls.
I tried tracing it with a white coloring pencil, and while that helped a little, the design still wasn't noticeable from a distance.
So I set about restoring them. First, after looking up ways to clean fabric shoes, I tried a toothbrush and small amount of water and soap. That didn't work - only made the glue underneath show through in a yellowish circle.
So the next idea I had was fabric paint, since these are a linen-like fabric. After some research, I ended up purchasing 2 ivory shades of DecoArt's So Soft fabric paint, in hopes that one would be close enough to the original color - since that was the color I really wanted! It's so hard to find an off-white not too yellow or tan. But their Buttermilk was an almost exact match!
I put down a newspaper to cover my work surface and started painting. The fabric just ate up the paint, with a brush full doing only a square inch or so, but it adhered instantly and I could tell it was going to stay. I brushed in both directions following the grain for solid coverage.
The first heel done. See how it contrasts with the main shoe. And all those marks gone!
Here's the heel from the inside, with one half painted and one not.
Over the toe, I tried to work around the rhinestones, but usually got some paint on them anyway. But since this is fabric paint, it scratches right off the rhinestones.
After it dried a little - the paint dried very quickly for me - I tried the paint marker on the toe. The first half went well, but then the marker started acting up, so the rest isn't quite so nice. I think a ball-point would have worked better.
Here is the shoe with the design half done, next to the unpainted one.
What a contrast! The painted shoe makes the unpainted one look all the dingier.
After that it was a quick matter to paint the other shoe - I gave each one only one coat of paint - then I left them sit overnight to dry completely, though they were dry to the touch in a very short time. I was so happy with the result! Plus, I can touch them up and make them look like new again if they get scuffed or marked with use.
I'm not an artist, so the designs have some unintended individuality. Especially since the marker was acting up. Maybe someday I'll repaint the toes and draw the design with a better behaved tool.
But meanwhile they look so nice - almost like new - and are the perfect shade of ivory. Just what I wanted! My first trial with fabric paint is a definite success.
And the result is so very '40s!
(I can't wait to pair them with my ivory-and-lavender Easter dress. Stay tuned for a photo later!)