I am a big fan of Marimekko and their colorful Scandinavian designs. In the last year or so they partnered with Converse (another of my favorite things) to create a line of patterned sneakers. I’ve thought about getting a pair for awhile, but they are a little bit pricey and they didn’t have my favorite pattern, Unikko.
(I see they do have that pattern now, but of course not in my size.) I mentioned to Matt that I should try painting the pattern on a pair of shoes myself and he said it would be too hard. Well, challenge accepted and accomplished.
Yes, these are not Converses. Target only had One Stars and that star on the side would really ruin the pattern. I needed All Stars or Jack Purcells. Then I saw these on sale for $10 and thought they would be the perfect thing to experiment on. I think they turned out super cute. (though now that I know what I’m doing I may have to do a pair in another color on Converses.)
Also they are not painted. I did a little reading about painting your own sneakers, people suggested acrylic paint or fabric paint. I thought paint pens would give me the best control, but have found fabric paint pens to be a little too pale in the past. Sharpies on the other hand have nice bright colors, different size tips and are permanent. I tested them on a scrap of canvas and they looked great. The black ended up bleeding a bit on the sneakers, but that worked fine with the pattern.
Marimekko Inspired Sneakers
- white sneakers (You can use another light color, but it might slightly change the way the colors the markers create when drawn on.)
- masking tape (optional)
- fine tip Sharpies in red, black and orange (I used 2 reds, because the first on ran out, and 1 of each of the other.)
1. Prep your sneakers – Remove the shoelaces from the shoes. If you wish you can tape of the edge of the soles with masking tape to prevent getting marker on them.
2. Practice your design – The Unikko design is perfect for this project because it is very free form and the colors blur together a little around the edges.
3. Draw on the basic flower outline – Use a pencil to lightly sketch the outline of your flowers on the shoes. Then draw over the outline with the red marker. If you feel really confident you can skip the pencil and just use the maker, but remember it is permanent.
4. Color in the flowers – Draw in the black circle for the center of the flower, then an orange circle around it. The black tends to bleed a little so let it dry before you fill in the orange around it. Fill in the red petals and then the orange center.
Use the point of the marker to get into all the seams and stitches of the sneaker. They will separate a little when you wear the sneakers so you want them to be colored in.
Make sure to follow the pattern around the edges of the sneakers.
Draw in a few stems with the black marker.
These are not sneakers that are made to get wet . I tested the sharpies on a scrap piece if canvas and it didn’t run when wet, so a few drops probably won’t hurt but I wouldn’t jump in any puddles or throw these in the wash. Think of them as your special occasion tennies. I may try spraying them with some silicone waterproofer for shoes. If I do I’ll let you know here how it works.
If you make a pair of sneakers inspired by these we’d love to see them in our Flickr group.
© 2005 – 2012 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish