Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tomstrosity: Saving Shoes

Do we have any Toms fans out there? I know Em loves her Toms shoes. She wore a pair she decorated herself for her wedding:
Toms and knock-off Toms are everywhere right now. Nearly every clothing store I've been in (including Wally World) over the past few months has had some sort of Toms style shoes. Recently we had our first Toms Pinstrosity submission, or as Kristin called it, the first Tomstrosity. Kristin had a pair of highly loved and highly used Toms that she wanted to repair and waterproof. In her search to save her shoes she found the following two pins. 

The Original Pins

originally from this blog (which is now longer not available):
And here is how the combo ended up for Kristin:

The Pinstrosity

Kristin went and read the directions to see what was needed, but with the nearest good fabric store at least 2 hours away she winged it in places (story of my life). Here are her "tweaks" that she made while trying to fix the holes in the shoes:
  • "I didn't have an iron on patch, so I smeared glue on a small square of canvas and patched the hole from the inside."
  • "I didn't have anything with a hem that I was willing to cut apart, so I folded the edge of my canvas and used the glue to make a seam."
  • "I was paying attention to how to glue the fabric on the shoe itself, but the toes were harder than expected."
  • "Even worse was trimming.  Hers is super neat.  I swear I tried, but it just ended up raggedy anyway."
  • "She just glued, no sewing.  I just glued, and it's coming up at the edges now, a couple months later.  I sewed the worst part, but it was really tedious trying to sew through 2-3 layers of canvas with your hand inside a stinky shoe."
"So, I fixed my Toms.  I was happy.  Then it started to snow, and I stopped wearing them.  Then I started bringing them to work, so I could take off my snowboots and wear something comfy while I was just at the desk or walking around inside.  This was nice, until I became too lazy to change my shoes when I was just going to walk a little bit outside.  My feet were getting pretty wet. I saw the waterproofing pin and was like "Genius!"  I mentioned it to my outdoorsy friends and they were all "I use beeswax for waterproofing all the time," and let me use their tube of bee goo.  I'm still not 100% sure what the name of it is, due to the duct tape, but it said it was 100% pure beeswax.  I washed my shoes, getting the dirt off, but they were still pretty stained.  I waited forever for them to dry, then smeared the bee goo on.  My buddy said to use the hairdryer first to warm up the fabric, then smear on the wax.  It worked okay, but it was really slow going to switch between heating and waxing, and I was getting wax on my roommate's hairdryer.  For my second shoe, I smeared the wax on first, then heated it, and that seemed to work just as well."
"The wax definitely discolored my shoes, and left some waxy buildup on the surface of the toes that is just not coming off.  I'm thinking maybe you can't use these two pins on the same shoes, because the wax just didn't soak in very well where the fabric had been glued together."
"As for whether they're functional...they do seem at least waterproof-ish, but it's barely snowed since I waterproofed them.  They also got a significant hole in the back, so water leaks in there quite a bit.  I'm thinking about glueing another canvas patch on the inside, then maybe trying to cover the back." 
"Or maybe just calling it a day.  I'm starting to think the biggest failure of all is getting overly attached to an expensive pair of shoes that falls apart really easily.  (But they're so cute...)"

We all have that pair of shoes that we just don't want to get rid of because they are so comfy or cute or versatile, or our dog dug it up in the neighbors yard and we couldn't bring ourselves to take it back over to them. I've tried to fix dying shoes before and I just didn't have much luck with it. If fact, I'm wearing slippers that has a whole so big between the side and the sole that I can stick my hand through it (but somehow my feet are still warm), yet I don't want to throw them away yet. Shoe repair can be tricky with all the curves, edges, and materials. If you're trying shoe repair for the first time, definitely try getting the materials your directions call for. Then find a time when you have time to sit and carefully work on the project. 

As far as waterproofing goes, if you want a natural waterproofing job, beeswax really is the best bet. If you end up with chunks or funny textures after applying the beeswax you can try throwing them in the dryer for a few minutes to help melt the wax and get it soaked in. If you live somewhere warm (and where your shoes wouldn't magically disappear) you can leave them outside in the sun for a little while (obviously not for long amounts of time of the sun will really discolor your shoes). The more you can get the wax into the fabric of the shoe the better. If you don't care whether your waterproofing job is natural or not, there's a great waterproofing spray in the camping section for spraying down tents and canvases. We've used it on totes, shoes, tents, shade covers, etc. and it works great. Smelly at first, but effective. It may discolor your shoes slightly, but not horribly so. 

Saving your shoes can be fun, but it can be frustrating sometimes...especially if it doesn't work out in the end. Just remember Kristin's words to us, " I'm starting to think the biggest failure of all is getting overly attached to an expensive pair of shoes that falls apart really easily." 


  1. Or you could do like my husband and just use duct tape on your shoes....although he recently discovered during a long, rainy weekend away from home that it does not make the shoes waterproof.... LOL

  2. The product name on the tube with the duct tape is called Sno-Seal.

  3. Mine turned out ok (I used sheets of double-sided elastic), but they only looked cute for a month.

  4. I recovered my Toms and it turned out pretty good. It's not a perfect lifesaving measure, but they have lasted another 4 months, and are still going. I need to trim a few strings, but cutting the pieces of fabric out almost perfectly beforehand helps in the neatness of the fabric and not having to trim afterward. I found that out too. I'll probably put some Scotchguard on them, but I try to stick to things that are goretex or rubber if I'm going out in the rain. :) Pictures are on my blog, and the link to the tutorial is there as well.

  5. I'd like to point out that waterproofing any shoe only works if the seams, etc., are also waterproofed. Even if the fabric is sealed, moisture will still leak in along the stitches and between the sole and upper. Expensive waterproof hiking shoes are specially made to prevent this; it's not all about sealant. I think "water resistant" is maybe a more realistic goal.

  6. I just use the spray on waterproofer that you use for suede shoes. I have a fabric covered pair of shoes and the spray on didn't discolor or make the fabric look funny. And they are totally waterproof!

  7. Okay this is just a pet peeve of mine, but there can't really be knock-off of TOM's shoes because the style, alpargata, has been around long before this company...

    Otherwise, another hilarious, not to mention, useful post!

  8. Lol. I'm the Kristin in the post.

    One of my friends just flipped out and bought me new Toms because he was so sick of these green ones.

  9. I followed the directions on the pin, and used the glue they recommended, and the shoes turned out good spas new. You have to use a butter knife of something to stuck the loose ends between the shoe and the sole, but with a little creativity you can make them clean and neat. I did this to my daughter's shoes and they lasted till she outgrew them. Next up are mine and I am just waiting for the perfect fabric!


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