Monday, September 01, 2014

Fun With Fabric: Custom Color Shoelaces.

These tennies were an impulse buy at Target.  
  • The polka dots were sweetly crooning my name. 
  • They were "lowest price of the season" ($12). 
  • And buying myself shoes while birthday shopping for my son must surely count as multi-tasking.

I knew with a pop of color they'd be awesome.  I mean, why settle for ordinary when you can amp up the style quotient make them colorful and fun,  Hmm, black with white polka dots...what about turquoise shoe laces?

I thought I'd have to look for some colored laces, then I realized these tennies came with white cotton shoelaces and I have a huge stash of acrylic craft paints.  Free is good.

A bit of fabric medium mixed with Navy Blue and Jade plus Pool Blue provided the intense turquoise I was mentally visualizing.  I thinned the paint still more with water in my fabric-dying container provided by StarKist and soaked the shoelaces for a couple hours after smooshing them well into the paint using a plastic bag to protect my fingers.  Then I draped them over a branch of our apple tree to dry. 

The key to using acrylic craft paints on fabric is to heat set the final product. I can't stress this enough.  I set my iron on "cotton", protected my ironing board with a brown paper grocery bag and protected my iron with a paper towel over the laces. Good thing I did too because you can see lots of paint ironed off!  So protection is good if you like your iron and your ironing board cover the way they are.
I ironed slowly along the length of the laces, then turned them over and ironed the other side.  A fair amount of color bled--even though I ironed slowly on both sides.  More than I expected, but still well within reason.

I checked for color-fastness by holding them under running water in the sink.  The water stayed clear but just as I began congratulating myself and thought about lacing up my new shoes, I began to see first a hint of color, then a flood of turquoise pigment even though I knew I'd heat-set the paint pretty well.  I think the color was from the interior of the shoelace weave because the visible part of the laces stayed the same vibrant turquoise.

I dried them again on the branch (thank heavens for temps in the nineties--quick drying suits my impatient nature) and then re-ironed them and checked for color-fastness.  Again.  I maybe impatient but I'm not stupid enough to want turquoise paint bleeding onto those white polka dots. 

The colorful result is casual, happy, and carefree.  And totally unique. 

It's nice to know that I can custom color my shoelaces.  What would I do different?  One thing:  I'd thin the paint even more than I did--watery would be better than soupy.  And the finished shoelaces wouldn't be quite as stiff from the acrylic paint. 

Now that I know that...I'm thinking those polka dots would look cute with cherry red laces too.  Or hot pink.  Or rainbow tie-dye.  Or goldenrod for autumn.