Sunday, August 14, 2016

How To Make Vinyl Boots Look Like Aged Leather

I went looking for summer boots last month, and found this cute fold-down style:

Not bad for $30, right?
 

Trouble is, like almost all vinyl faux leather, they're super shiny and plastic-looking. Bleh.

So let's make 'em look like real aged leather, shall we?

I won't keep you in suspense: here's how they turn out:

Pretty cute, right? And sooo much more realistic than that shiny vinyl.


Don't worry, this finish is quite durable, and won't come off in water even if you scrub. So splash through as many puddles as you want, and rest assured any extra wear and scuffs will only add to the "leather" look.

You can use this technique on any vinyl, so it's also great for costuming and steampunk applications!

But best of all, this is super easy, and super cheap. All you need is a little 400 grit sandpaper (check any hardware store), some flat brown craft paint, and a wet rag.

So let's go.

First, remove the laces and use your 400 grit sandpaper (which is super fine; barely rough at all) to remove that plasticy shine on your boots:

Here the left shoe is sanded.

Be careful to NOT sand all the way through the vinyl; you're just getting that shine off. The difference may seem subtle in the pic, but trust me, just this alone will make your boots seem infinitely more leather-like.

Try to sand all the nooks and crannies of your boots as best you can. Be warned this can take a good 10-20 minutes, during which your hubby may start posting on Fans of Epbot:

(Now you FoE folk will no longer have to wrestle with the mystery of Why Jen Was Sanding Her Boots. But good luck with Why Was John Sitting Around In A Giant Ni Helmet.)
Once you're satisfied the shine is gone, start aging your boots by applying a little brown craft paint, and then rubbing it around with either your finger or a rag (or both).

The paint will dry fast, so do this in sections, and work quickly. Have a wet rag on hand to wipe off any parts that get too dark or splotchy. You can make this super grungy or quite subtle, so experiment a little to see what you like.

Sorry I don't have many more process photos; like I said, you have to work fast!

My first boot turned out splotchier than I like; its the left one here:

I learned to spread the paint in larger sections for the second boot, to make it more even. Use your wet rag to keep the paint spreadable, since once it dries there's no getting it off with water, no matter HOW hard you scrub. 

Don't worry, though; any household cleaner (like a Clorox wipe) will remove the paint if you need to start over, or you can use that 400 grit sandpaper again on darker areas.


I was too lazy to go back and lighten up the left boot; I figure I'll chalk it up to imperfections in the "leather." :D

You could of course clear-coat your newly aged boots, but it's really not necessary. If you ever manage to rub off too much paint, it's easy to add more.

Oh, and I swapped out the laces, since I hate those stiff waxed cord ones. But of course that's optional!

Hope this gives you guys some more options for your wardrobe! I know I have at least two more pairs of boots to age now.

And for you Pinners:



(Stay tuned for my final cosplay post from Tampa Comic-Con - just taking a break from all that photo editing!)


24 comments:

  1. Love these! And I love the fact that you have summer boots. I used to try to shop for boots in the spring/summer, but they only had them at the store in the fall/winter. Just one more reason to shop online. : )

    -Just Andrea

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  2. "I went looking for summer boots"
    ...only you, Jen. ;)

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  3. I'm thinking this would work on flats as well. I have some VERY silver flats that have the shape I like, but there are VERY silver. Imma give it a shot! Thanks, Jen.

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  4. Look good! Is there a way to age/distress the turndown cuff lining to go along with the aged leather? it looks a bit odd to see such characterful well-worn boots with such pristine lace lining!

    Kimstu

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    Replies
    1. P.S. my first thought would be to blot them with a damp tea bag

      Kimstu

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    2. Absolutely, you could use tea, or even watered down paint! Since the lace is already an off-white I didn't think it was bad as-is, but extra aging might be fun.

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  5. So much the cute! I'm totally going to try this...

    ~Elizabeth Glover

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  6. Summer boots?! LOL Only a Floridian! Do you also have winter flip-flops? LOL

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    Replies
    1. Wait, you mean some people DON'T have winter flip-flops?? ;)

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    2. You don't need winter flip flops, you just wear them with a thick pair of woolly socks ;0)

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  7. Of course, none of us wondered about John wearing the helmet, just you sanding boots. We expect this from John. :)

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  8. I love these! I've actually been looking for some lace cuff boots, since your Mori girl post. Can you tell me where you found some boots with lace? Please, thank you!!

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    Replies
    1. I found them at Burlington, but someone on FB mentioned they saw the same pair this week at DSW!

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    2. Thank you! That got me on the right track. Also found some at Nordstrom's (different brand but looks similar), and at Target!! Woohoo! By next weekend I'll have worn lacy boots!

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  9. Bravo! I love the finished product. I have some I think I need to do this on. :) And rest assured, not one FoE blinked for the slightest moment at you sanding boots and John wearing that helmet. It's like we know you.

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  10. So cool! As a vegetarian I don't buy leather, and I've always hated the way it feels. This will come in so handy! Also, thank you for not dragging the suspense out any longer. I really wanted to know why you were sanding your boots!

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  11. Lily always looks like she holds the secrets of the universe in her eyes.

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    Replies
    1. I completely agree! Also, I just want to pet her soft little furry nose!!

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  12. Okay, I'm entirely too tired today...must get more coffee...I just read John's post as "...sitting around watching Jen sand her boobs!!"

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  13. So if you were trying to make BLACK vinyl boots look leather-y, what color would you use to age them? Grey? Dark Grey? Maybe navy or even dark burgundy? Would love to hear your thoughts Craftmaster Jen!

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  14. Funny thing is, I didn't even think anything was odd when I'd read that you were sanding your boots.

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  15. They're Epboots! :-D

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