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DIY Embroidery on Canvas Shoes

diy embroidery on canvas shoes instructions


Give a pair of canvas shoes new life with a little DIY embroidery!  

This project is all about personalizing your wardrobe to make it more YOU, and finding new ways to use what’s already in your closet.  A small change like this can turn your plain jane kicks into a total statement piece. This project is great for all skill levels, so grab a pair of canvas shoes and let’s get started!

Scroll down for a free printable eye pattern for both adult and child sized shoes. To save on paper, print only the page with the pattern at the end of this article.


DIY canvas shoes embroidery materials



Canvas shoes
Embroidery floss
Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer (or your transfer method of choice)
Sharp hand embroidery needle

A note on materials:

-If you are planning to stitch the eyes on the backs of your shoes, you will need to make sure your shoes don’t have a stiff backing.  Some canvas shoes have a plastic or cardboard insert hidden within the canvas, which makes it virtually impossible to pull a needle through.  To be honest, the more expensive the shoe, the less likely they are to have a soft backing.

-I used Solvy for this project because I am OBSESSED with it. Solvy is a light-weight water soluble stabilizer that is fairly see-through. You can easily trace your pattern onto the Solvy, pin it in place, and sew right through it.  One roll of Solvy will last you forever for small projects like these. If you don’t want to commit to a full roll, you can find water soluble stabilizer by the yard at your local fabric store. You can also freehand the pattern onto your shoe with a water soluble fabric pen.  If you mess up, just wet your shoe to erase.


diy embroidery on canvas shoes free project


diy embroidery canvas shoes free project



  1. Print your pattern. Lay a piece of Solvy over your pattern and trace. Trim away any excess Solvy, leaving enough material outside of the pattern to pin.
  2. Pin the patterns to your shoe. Use your ruler to make sure both eyes are symmetrical.
  3. Begin stitching!  Refer to the stitch guide on your pattern sheet or do your own thing!
  4. When you’re done stitching, remove all pins and carefully tear away the excess Solvy.  If any small pieces get stuck under the thread, you can easily dissolve them by dabbing the area with a damp cloth.  
  5. Repeat on the other shoe and you are done!



diy embroidery on canvas shoes free pattern

diy embroidery on canvas shoes free pattern

diy embroidery on canvas shoes free pattern


  • Give your eyes a little color by filling in the iris.  I used rows of split stitch to fill in this area.
  • Stitch the eye on the toe of your shoe. My worn-in Keds had too stiff a backing to stitch through, so I stitched the eyes on the top. Now I don’t know which version I like better!
  • If you're using dark colored shoes, use your light colored thread to fill in the pupils or the whites of the eyes with satin stitch.  You can also keep it simple and stitch only the pattern lines like I did.




Pattern for adult shoes:

Pattern for children's shoes:


Split Stitch - use for eyelashes, perimeter of eye and iris
Satin Stitch - use to fill in pupil
French Knot - stitch 1 french knot in the center of the pupil to add dimension

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