In mid-August of 2015 I was working on my Supergirl boots (Helen Slater version). I had to replace the boots because my cat clawed them up beyond repair. I bought a tougher material and set to work on the new boot covers. First thing to do was to free my base canvas shoes from the damaged boot covers. Initially, I was trying to remove them with needlenose pliers and patience. That took for-friggin’-ever and was hellacious on my hands. I freed one shoe that way then I finally wised up and used a solvent, plain ol’ acetone. The acetone made quick work of what would have taken hours if I’d kept at it with the pliers. Within a few minutes I had the remaining shoe clean and ready for a new upper. I made a sturdy poster board pattern in place of my tissue pattern to make things easier since I didn’t want to put holes in my boot fabric unnecessarily. I traced out the pieces on my fabric, got them cut out and prepared to paint them.
I hadn’t been able to find just the right shade of red in a suitably sturdy/accurate fabric so I purchased white with the intention of painting it. I tested a few paints and dyes and finally decided on Angelus leather paint. I mixed it with thinner and duller, both Angelus brand, to get a consistency similar to whole milk before loading it in my airbrush. The resulting mixture was quite transparent. It took several coats to get to the color I wanted and the small spray pattern of the airbrush (and/or my lack of skill) caused it to come out mottled where I’d overlapped paint layers. Oh, I also decided that when I was painting around the edges I’d put another boot piece underneath to catch the overspray so it wouldn’t be wasted hoping that it wouldn’t leave lines. Spoiler- it left lines. Lines that were nigh impossible to hide. If I ever decide to airbrush a large area like this again I may need to get an airbrush with a larger spray pattern. I might’ve been able to just brush this on but nooooo, I had to be fancy and use an airbrush. Anyway, witness my shame below:
That, obviously, would not do so it was time for damage control. I had also purchased a can of Nu-Life color spray to test but found that when stretched enough, the finish would flake off. In the picture below you can see little white speckles, that’s where it flaked. That drawback is why I chose the Angelus over the Nu-Life. However, my boots already had a nice red non-flaking underlayer so I went ahead and sprayed them with the Nu-Life content in the knowledge that if the Nu-Life did happen to flake it wouldn’t be noticeable. It covered up the blotchiness beautifully and the color was perfect. My boots were back on track.
After my cat shredded my nearly completed Supergirl boots right before DragonCon it was a long time before I even wanted to look at them let alone repair them. Now that I’ve had a couple years to mourn I realize that my cat may have been on to something. I wanted to test out some vinyl repair compound I’d purchased before using it on the boots so I grabbed a scrap of the vinyl and used a staple to simulate the damage. It was then that I realized just how easy it was to mar the surface of the vinyl. I was even able to do permanent damage with just my fingernail. So why would I spend hours crafting footwear out of fabric that really isn’t suited for the rigors of walking around, even if it is only for costuming? Duly noted, Rogue.
I had tried the vinyl repair compound soon after the damage was done hoping to rehab them in time for DragonCon but the results were disappointing. It didn’t really do much to hide the claw marks and as soon as they were stretched any improvements it made were undone. That was when I knew the boots were toast so I tucked them away for a while. Fast forward two years and here we are. I pulled them back out and they didn’t make me feel nearly as nauseated as they had before. Yay!
My first thought was to purchase a second pair of base shoes but I was unable to find another pair that had that distinctive 80s shape. With no other acceptable alternative I’ve begun the task of pulling the ruined uppers off their base. I used Shoe Goo to attach them so removing them has been a chore. What seems to work best is grabbing an edge of the glue/fabric with forceps then rolling it to peel the upper off. It’s tedious and slow but it works, I already have one shoe free and ready for a new upper.
Now I just had to decide on the new material. I had some leather in my stash which I considered but there didn’t seem to be enough unblemished area to get two boots out of it. However, it had the same amount of stretch if not more than the stretch vinyl and it is far tougher. My search for garment grade leather commenced. I looked at a lot of expensive possibilities but eventually settled on this Perfection Fused Leather from Fabric.com. I ordered a sample in Ivory and a bottle of Angelus acrylic leather paint in Red to possibly paint it with. My materials arrived and I gave them a test run. I also tested the Dye-Na-Flow that I had on hand just out of curiosity. As you can see it didn’t quite take. The Angelus paint, on the other hand, looks pretty good. It has some streaks but I may be able to avoid that with practice. The bottle mentions that it can be used in an airbrush so I’ll consider that possibility as well.
I made a short video showing how well the Angelus paint holds up to stretching. Pardon the video quality, it’s my first video and I have lots of room for improvement.
It held up to my abuse remarkably well. No more Krylon Fusion or craft paint for my costume shoes! I also have a can of Nu-Life Color Spray that I bought for my Harley Quinn boot that I have yet to use. I may test it out on my scrap as well before I make my final decision on the finish.