DIY: Gatsby Heels

A few months ago I wrote this post on my love for Carey Mulligan’s Gatsby-inspired Vogue spread last year. I decided to recreate the blush pink shoes she is wearing in one of the photos, and the process was actually really fun, although time consuming. Today I wanted to share with you all some pictures of the process along with details.

I have to preface this by saying I really didn’t know what I was doing until I started, and it just happened to work out! So if any of you want to try DIY projects but aren’t really 100% sure you know what to do, just try! The worst thing that can happen is a messed-up shoe and maybe some gluey fingers.

What I wanted:

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So, I started with black and white heels from Alibaba, that kind of cheap online store with shoes that tend to smell funny:

IMG_4872 IMG_5004And I bought two kinds of metallic paint (same finish is important), lots of jewels and beads, paintbrushes, E-6000 glue, and high gloss finishing spray. I also borrowed a box cutter (very sharp!) and laid down some old rags to work on. J5184x3456-82031J5184x3456-82041J5184x3456-82044J5184x3456-82053J5184x3456-82066J5184x3456-82096-2As you can see from these pictures, first I stenciled out the cut-outs that appear on the original heel. Then, because I got nervous, I switched over to painting the black heel the same off-white as the shoe upper. I used a Martha Stewart acrylic paint with a satin finish and it came out so well! See more…

After painting the heel and stenciling the design, I carefully used to box cutter to slice into the shoe. I did this in a quick, strong swipe to make the cut smooth. It’s dangerous, so be careful! I put a pincushion inside the shoe to absorb the blade on the other side.

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Then it was time to paint the shoe. I used a combination of copper metallic paint and silver metallic paint to achieve a blush pink tone. I painted two coats of the mixture on the toe and then swiped a bit of the paint on the rim of the shoe to cover all the black. I also dabbed a little of the pink paint on the inside of the cuts I made, to match the original shoe.

After came the fun, but very meticulous, bedazzling of the heel. This challenged my patience but it was also really satisfying in a way!

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I used a tweezer to dip the rhinestone into a pool of glue and then stuck it on the heel–about 200 times (this took a couple weeks. My stubborn personality was a major factor in the success of this project). I bought bigger stones for the top of the heel and also put some pearls in there for good measure.   J5184x3456-82033Finally, they were finished and dried. I sprayed a light coat of high shine spray on the cap toe and it came out dazzling. The E-6000 glue is supposed to hold up to anything, but just in case, I’ve saved a few stones to replace should any go missing!

The inspiration:

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The finished project:

Photo May 13, 12 18 16 AM

Hope you enjoyed! See my other shoe DIYs by clicking the tab above or going here.



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  • Wow I am seriously impressed!! I don’t think I would have the nerve to use a boxcutter on a pair of shoes — I’m not coordinated enough to make the pattern come out right haha. But I remember that beautiful Vogue spread very well, and I also loved the unique citron-colored dress she wore on the front cover.

  • Hi! This DIY is absolutely amazing! Love, love, love it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • That is an interesting idea and a very nice job! I loved the fashion in the movie and these does remind me of it a lot. Nice!

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