This summer I’ve been stitched on all sorts of things and today I’m super excited to share how to hand embroider shoes! I love hand embroidery on things I can wear instead of just hanging finished projects on the wall. These shoes are super comfortable and perfect for travel so I thought I’d stitch a pretty little reminder to get out and explore more! See where to download the free file and see a video & photo walkthrough of how to stitch on shoes so you can try it yourself. Sulky sponsored this post, which means they provided materials and compensated me for my time, but all opinions are my own!
If you like this tutorial, be sure to check out these other posts too!
- How to embroider a hat by hand
- The best modern embroidery kits for beginners
- Cat t-shirt embroidery DIY
- 15+ Free Hand Embroidery Patterns
- 25+ diy shoe refashion tutorials
Stick N Stitch (the same stuff as Fabri Solvy) is perfect for apparel projects like this that would be tricky to trace on to! It is a magical game change for hand embroidery; I hate tracing and this makes it super easy to transfer a pattern.
I stitched the same thing on the other shoe too; I think the next pair I do will be all flowers!
Cotton Petites are single strand, which makes it fast and easy to stitch instead of untangling and counting pieces. I love how these colors popped against the fuchsia canvas on the shoe.
Pin this tutorial for how to hand embroider shoes with this link or collage photo:
How to hand embroider shoes
General tips for hand embroidering shoes
- If you ever plan on washing your shoes, wash them that way before you stitch! Otherwise the fabric can shift and pucker.
- Hemostats or pliers make it easier on your fingers to pull and/or push the needle through thicker fabrics.
- If your shoes are really thick, consider pre-poking holes with an awl to make stitching simpler.
- If your shoes have laces take them out so you have an easier range of motion!
- Experiment with the best thread start/stop method for your feet. I avoided knots because they felt funny and wove the ends in as I sewed instead.
- Blank pair of thin canvas or fabric shoes – I stitched on these but Keds, Converse, & Toms are all common choices
- Hemostat forceps
- Sulky Stick N Stitch
- Sulky Cotton Petite Thread – I used #1834 (green/ Pea Soup), #1830 (light purple/Lilac), #1256 (pink/Sweet Pink), #1299 (purple/purple shadow), #1046 (teal/Teal)
- Embroidery needle – my personal favorites
- Embroidery scissors – the ones I use in these photos
- Permanent fabric glue
- I was wishing I had a thimble
- Printer (inkjet or laser works!)
Free PDF pattern-sign up for my newsletter and get the free download once you confirm your subscription! If you’re already a subscriber, you can access the pattern with the password in each newsletter, in the resource library.
Step 1- Print the pattern! Roughly cut around the design and peel off the back.
Step 2- Apply & center the design on your shoe, smoothing it over firmly once you’re happy with its position.
Step 3- Backstitch the text; coming up along the line and entering back in the same hole as the previous stitch. Smaller stitches will look neater with these small curves.
Step 4- Take long satin stitches for the green flowers; I used 3 strands for each petal.
Step 5- Add a few short satin stitches at the tip.
Step 6- Make a few pretty little french knots on the dots.
Step 7- Use a lazy daisy stitch for your final flowers.
Step 8- Rinse away the stabilizer with warm water! You may need to agitate the fabric gently with a soft brush or your nail until it doesn’t feel sticky. Stuff with a rag and let dry over night.
Step 9- Whether you started & stopped with knots or tried to weave your ends in, dab some fabric glue on them to make sure they stay put! I used a toothpick to hold them down in the glue for a bit.
You’re done! Have you stitched on shoes before? I’d love to hear how it went!
Sunday 14th of August 2022
Hey! This was such a great guide, I used these steps to prepare myself to embroider my converse and they turned out great! I sealed the inside with fabric glue, but I was wondering if you did anything on the exterior to protect the stitiching? Thanks for much for the time and effort you put into this article!
Stephanie - Swoodson Says
Friday 26th of August 2022
Hi Lauren!! Sorry for the delay in replying - I'm so thrilled that it was useful to you and you have fun new embroidered converse, I'd love to see them if you have a photo online anywhere! I did not do anything on the exterior - or the interior - and they've held up well so far. You could consider scotch guard??? I'm sensitive to chemical scents so I have not messed with it. Definitely do a sloppy test stitch project and try the spray out on it before risking your actual shoes :D
Thursday 9th of April 2020
Hand embroiders shoes are just stunning if you can embroider properly. All those 8 ways you show here is just awesome. Can you please suggest me is it safe for my toms shoe?
Stephanie - Swoodson Says
Sunday 19th of April 2020