Princess has been taking dance lessons this year. Although our prices are much more reasonable here than in a metro area (gasp), it still has not been an inexpensive process. There are the monthly lesson costs, the class gear (taps, ballet shoes, leotards etc), costumes and recital gear. Don’t get me started on the fact that we don’t even get a single free ticket to the recital.
Of course when I asked at the beginning of the year the studio expressed no preference for what color ballet shoes Princess had to have. Being a typical 6 year old girl she wanted the pink ones.
Fine, we got the pink ones.
Then in October when they ordered the costumes, they told us they had decided on black ballet shoes for the recital. Ugh.
Well, 2 weeks ago she decided both of her shoes were too tight. Mind you, this is 3 weeks before the recital. That means she needed two new pairs of shoes that she would only wear for 3 weeks! Yes, that is only $30 ($15 a pair at Payless) but I’d rather not pay that for just a couple of weeks of use. Even if she takes dance next year (Which is in doubt-we love to dance, we don’t like having to do the steps someone else tells us to do. What can I say-independent women in my family), her feet will have grown by the end of the summer and any shoes we purchase now won’t fit.
Luckily for us there is a “free” box there at the studio where everyone tosses in their outgrown shoes, and anyone may take ones they find that fit. I was able to find both a pair of taps and ballet shoes that fit. Of course I tossed her outgrown ones in for someone else. The down side-the ballet shoes were again pink.
Well, I did what any frugalite would do. I decided to dye them. Now when I was in college I specifically remember being able to buy special spray paint at shoe stores where you could spray over and change the color of your shoes. In fact, I bought beige character shoes (ie tap shoes without the taps that theatre types wear for musicals etc) and used that sort of paint to paint them white for my wedding. I wanted to be able to stand and dance in them without killing my feet. But when I went to look for such a thing in good old 2008, I couldn’t find it. What I did find was black shoe dye meant to cover scuffs etc at Wally World for $2.50. I figured it would do.
To start with I stuffed the shoes full of newspaper to get the leather as tight as I could. Then I soaked some cotton balls in acetone nailpolish remover and rubbed down the surface of the shoes to take off that sort of glossy finish. Learn from my experience and pay special attention to all the seams and edges if you do this-I had to cover up some spots that wouldn’t take the dye with a sharpie. (I love sharpies!)
I had to apply* 4 coats of the dye. The first coat was scary-It looked awful. I mean really horrible. I was worried that I had made a terrible mistake-but I tried to console myself with the fact that if it didn’t work I’d just be back where I started-needing to buy a new pair in black.
The second coat (several hours later) came out much better-albeit still streaky, and I knew it was going to be all right. After the 4th coat dried, I used some black shoe polish and it fixed them right up.
If you get really close you can see the difference between Princess’s dyed shoes and the store bought black ones, but they look great from stage-and cost about $13 less than buying the cheapest pair of new shoes.