How To: Bejewel Your Own Shoes

One of my favorite DIY projects for the wedding was “bedazzling” or “strassing” my own shoes. I meant to put up this tutorial right away, but was lazy and didn’t 🙂

Recently, someone saw my shoes on flickr and asked if I would write up a post for their website, – thought strassing your own shoes might not be the most co

st-saving project on your craft list, it’s fun and you’ll be complimented all night on your patience, craft-savvy and style.

Here’s a copy of the post, which you can find here. I added in some more photos so you can see the progress. Of course, I don’t have too many pictures of the shoes on my feet, but let me assure you, they sparkled the whole night long.

“I’m a self-proclaimed shoe addict, and when it came to wedding shoes, I wanted something that made a statement…a big statement. My problem was that I was attracted to outrageous designer shoes, particularly embellished Louboutins, but simply lacked the budgetary freedom to go all-out and drop upwards of $3,000 on shoes! I resigned myself to wearing a perfectly lovely, though less-unique-than-hoped-for pair of shoes.

I poked around the internet for a nice pair, and one day stumbled upon a shoe forum that took designer shoes and altered them. One page on the forum was dedicated to the “strass” shoe – Louboutins bedazzled

with sparkling sparkliness. As I clicked through pages of glittering shoes, I thought “I can totally do this!” – I was diy-ing a ton of other things for the wedding, what was one more project!!!

Before I get into the details of this “how-to” project, I want to warn readers that this isn’t necessarily a huge money-saving project, and might even be the type of project that people roll their eyes to and declare “excessive” or even “dumb.” I am OK with that  “Strassing” your own shoes can be pricey, especially if you want to use Swarovski crystals, have big feet (like me), and/or have a lot of shoe to cover, so before you commit to DIY strassing, you’ll want to do your research. I will tell you that this was my favorite project of all DIY projects I tackled for our wedding, and though it was hard work, I loved the sparkly goodness of my shoes. If you have designer shoe taste without the designer shoe budget, you’ll love this project too.

I started with a pair of shoes from Payless. Yup. I paid a total of $15. I figured if I hated the results or messed something up, I may as well mess up on a cheap pair of shoes! I then relied heavily on Google to provide information and resources for undertaking this project. I decided to use hotfix Swarovski crystals – these are rhinestones with a layer of glue already affixed to the back. I purchased a hotfix tool at JoAnn’s Fabrics (with a coupon!) – this tool heats up, picks up each crystal, melts the glue on the back, and then it’s used to affix the crystal to your item. If I ever strass a pair of shoes again, I wouldn’t recommend this method, simply because I don’t think the hotfix glue is the strongest option, and rhinestones flew off my shoes all night long. I’d use E-6000 glue and tweezers to affix regular rhinestones instead – tedious, yes, but definitely more staying power. I purchased the hotfix rhinestones from They had coupon codes on Facebook and carried the best selection of anyone I found online. I hear that you can get better prices if you shop around on eBay, or if you chose to use non-Swarovski crystals available at craft stores. I knew ahead of time that this project would cost at least $200-$300.

In my opinion, this looks "richer" than a $300 pair of shoes!

I chose to use Crystal AB, Crystal Moonlight, Crystal and Silk AB Swarovski crystals, because I wanted to give my shoes some dimension with the different colors.

The "depth" effect I was going for was really visible when light reflected off the various colored crystals.

I also liked the rainbow shimmer of AB (Aurora Borealis in Swarovski-speak) crystals. I ordered four sizes, 20ss (largest), 16ss, 10ss, 6ss, and I ordered them in “gross” form – sets of 144 pieces, except for the 20ss, where “gross” equaled 72 pieces. I actually had to order additional crystals to finish my second shoe, and I spent a total of $275 in crystals, but buying everything in shifts made this expenditure a little less painful. The final numbers looked like this:

1 gross 20ss Crystal AB
1 gross 20ss Crystal Moonlight
1 gross 16ss Silk AB
1 gross 16ss Crystal AB7 gross 10ss Crystal Moonlight
7 gross 10ss Crystal AB
4 gross 10ss Crystal
7 gross 6ss Crystal AB
7 gross 6ss Crystal
For a grand total of 5,040 crystals!

Honestly, finding the right tools and ordering the crystals was the hardest part of this project. Once you have your glue or hotfix tool, shoes, and rhinestones, find some good dvd’s or stream something from Netflix and go to it. I finished half a shoe watching televised coverage of the Boston Marathon. My process for covering each shoe was to place the 20ss rhinestones randomly, then fill around those with 16ss, then with 10ss, and finally, fill in all the blank spaces with 6ss rhinestones.

This is the beginning stage of my strassing project. You can see my randomly placed 20ss crystals throughout the shoe. My mom said "the shoe looks great like that!" which was sweet, but they reminded me of keds I had in 1992, so no, the full strassing job would have to be completed!

Filling in with smaller crystals; I'm sure those who have strassed before me may have different strategies, like doing one region of the shoe at a time, but this worked well for me.

More "fill-in" detail.

Almost time for the smallest size of crystals!

It’s actually quite simple once you get going, and only a little bit mind-numbing! If you find at any point that you lack the inspiration to go on, bring your shoe outside into the sunlight, and stare into the sparkly-sparkleness. I promise it will bring back your motivation.

If you're lacking motivation to finish, put your shoe on, take it outside in the sunlight, and watch it sparkle!

My motivation petered out after finishing one shoe, but I found the first shoe was the hardest, and the second moved along very quickly.

I LOVED trying on the finished shoe....

Because I was strassing slingbacks, I wasn't sure how the heel strap elastic would look, but it came out OK

As cheesy as it may sound, you will feel really special wearing this one-of-a-kind, labor-of-love pair shoes on your wedding day. They might even make you a better dancer.”

Better dancer? OK maybe not, but the shoes did make the dip even snazzier!

At the end of the night - note: foot petals are a great investment!

So there you have it. If you have a couple of months before your wedding, don’t be afraid to take this kind of project on. As a DIY bride I obsessed about place cards and invites and favor bags – all appreciated but pretty much forgotten by guests. The things that still come up 10 months later are the DJ/awesomeness of music and dancing, me crying through my vows, the “fun-ness” of the wedding, and “the shoes.” YES!

As for the shoes now – yes, I still have them. They need a little bit of rehab, but I’m hoping that I’ll have the chance to wear them again someday. Even if I never do, I’ll be keeping them for a long time. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my dress, but the shoes will remain as is, and if I have a daughter that loves shoes as much as I do (and has sizeable feet) that may be what’s handed down to her at her wedding…unless I’m wearing them, of course!


4 thoughts on “How To: Bejewel Your Own Shoes

  1. I want to use this method in the toe of a pair of baby Chuck Taylor’s as well as a kid & adult pair. What size rhinestones do you suggest I use for each pair? I want a more uniformed look for the two youth pair. Thanks

    • Hi Kayla,

      I’d probably use between 16ss and 10ss sized crystals for the Chuck Taylors – or maybe 10ss on the baby sized and move up to 16ss for the adult and kid sizes. This way the rhinestones would be small enough so you can fill in the toes and have them look uniform, but not so small that you’re driving yourself crazy. You might want to buy a small bag of crystals from the craft store to get a sense of the different sizes and how they will look on your shoe. I have found that everyone has their own style when doing this type of project, and you might prefer one look over an other, e.g. one size rhinestone on the entire area vs. multiple size rhinestones on one area. Hope this helps!

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