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Suedeing Dance Shoes

November 19, 2013

In honor of the upcoming PittStop Lindy Hop, how about some dance crafting?

I, like many social dancers, prefer to dance on shoes with sueded soles. To me, lindy hopping feels most effortless when there isn’t too much friction between me and the floor. I also like to have plenty of slip for my swivels.

I picked up a pair of regular Keds a few years ago thinking that I might be able to dance on them without any suede–a lot of women do this and are perfectly happy. However, I found that I only liked the feel of the rubber soles when I danced on very fast floors. This isn’t often the case where I dance, so I needed to suede the soles in order to get some decent use out of them.

Some people bring their shoes in to be sueded by a professional, but I can do a perfectly good job on my own. Here’s what’s worked for me:
Shoe Suedeing SuppliesGet your materials together. Whatever shoes you choose, make sure there aren’t huge divets on the sole: Keds are great because they don’t have a very deep pattern, which gives the glue something to adhere to. Since I only suede the front halves of my shoes, leaving the heels sticky in case I need to stop quickly, I use elbow pads for my suede. They’re getting harder and harder to find at fabric stores, but you can always order online. I’ve used Gorilla Glue for all of my successful shoe suedeing projects, and it’s great because it will stick to the rubber and is flexible, which is obviously essential for dance shoes. You’ll also need a pen, a pair of scissors, something to cover your work surface, and a sharp craft knife.
Suede Shoes 1Trace around each of your shoes, and mark them as right and left just in case there’s any difference between the two.
Suede Shoes 2Cut out each piece, leaving a little wiggle room to allow for error.
Suede Shoes 3Find someplace with good ventilation, preferably outside because super glue stinks, and cover your work surface to guard against any mistakes. This glue dries quickly, and the tiny nozzle forces you to move slowly over the shoe surface, so glue only an inch or two at a time. I put down some glue on the sole of the shoe and then press the suede down onto it. Use plenty of glue to ensure it sticks, especially around the edges, but don’t use so much that the suede becomes saturated.

Suede Shoes 4Allow the glue to dry for a while, and then carefully use a sharp craft knife to cut away the excess suede. This ensures that your suede is attached right up to the edges without the risk of getting super glue all over your fingers.

That’s it! Let them air out for a day or three so they don’t smell horrible, and then you’re ready to hit the dance floor! If the suede ever pulls up like mine did after dancing on the deck of a battleship (totally picked the wrong shoes for that dance…), you can just glue it right back down.

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