leather to suede

I’ve been coveting these boots for months, but I couldn’t rationalize the purchase because I already own these (above). I know you understand, they’re different but the same. So yesterday I decided to dive into the aging kit I used to use on set and go to town trying to make a new boot out of an old one. Here’s how I did it.

Stuff the booties with crumpled magazine pages to keep the shape while you work on them. Spray them with rubbing alcohol to soften the leather and grab any scratchy surface you have to start “sueding” them. Did I just create a word? I used a medium grain sandpaper, a wire brush and an old pumice block. If you can’t find these in your garage or cupboard already you can easily find them at a hardware store.

Rub the soles of the boot on a rough ground surface to create a true worn-in effect.

Bending and twisting the boot helps as well.

Make sure to pay special attention to the heels, creases, zippers or laces for a more authentic look. If you want a more distressed leather look versus suede, rub a bit of shoe wax over the boots after you’re done beating them up.

Now throw them on with your favorite pair of jeans, a long skirt or just about anything else you want to add a rustic look to and enjoy the compliments.




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    • says

      Thanks so much ladies, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m so happy with how well they came out. Definitely my “new” favorite shoes.

    • says

      Maria, a good cobbler (shoe smith) is essential in your wardrobe arsenal. That and a good tailor. My first suggestion would be to take it to a professional. They can either repair it, replace the heel or tell you it’s a lost cause. I’ve dealt with all three. I have an ancient pair of boots I love that I’ve had re-soled at least three times, I’ve had magical repairs done and I’ve headed to the mall to get a new pair after they’ve told me it’s no use. Good luck, and keep me posted. I’d love to see a before and after pic:)

  1. Stephanie says

    Way to recycle!! Generally speaking, how long does it take? Do you know if this transformation may be performed on all leather or just the softer stuff?

    • says

      Stephanie, this took me from set up to clean up around 20 minutes. It will work on harder leathers, it will just take more elbow grease and time. On set we used to do it on heavy motorcycle jackets where we would use a dremmel (sp?), a drill with sand paper type attachments. It really just depends what effect you want and what you want to put into it. Truthfully, sometimes it’s hard to stop-ha! Happy aging;)

  2. Danielle says

    I did this with a leather bag that was shiny, and I wanted a worn beat up look. I used steel wool but it could use more distressing, so perhaps I’ll go at it again.. Do you think this would work to turn patent leather in dull soft leather?

      • Danielle says

        I took a look at the shoes I have, and it seems they have a layer of ‘patent’ on there, even though the shoes are leather. I looked up how patent leather is made, and it appears that back in the day it was regular leather made shiny, but these days a special coating is applied to make it patent-y. I better not risk it!

    • says

      No you don’t. You can use almost anything with texture and/or a rough surface. I just grabbed whatever was in my garage. Sand paper, nail files, pedi scrubbers should all work too. Good luck!

    • Rohmell Brills says

      I do not think this method will work with faux leather since there are no fibers (leather or otherwise) underneath the top ‘skin’. Also, you might remove the coloring of the faux leather, and expose a base (possibly different) color.


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