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Beading your shoes will revitalize ordinary footwear to reflect your personal taste. Depending on the beads you choose, you can either glue them to the surface of your shoe or sew them on. You can attach beads to your shoes in deliberate patterns or more simply, in a decorative strand or a single bead.

Selecting Beads

Decide on the color of your beads: Consider if you want your beads to contrast against the color of your shoe or match it. Determine if you want sparkly metallic beads that attract attention, or more subdued shades beads.

If you don't feel confident using a needle, select light, flat beads that you can attach with a hot-glue gun. Don't use too many heavy, chunky beads unless you don't mind them weighing down your shoe.

Seed beads are tiny beads used as decoration on women's coats, purses, dresses and necklaces. They come in every color imaginable. Bear in mind that it may take twice as long to decorate with seed beads; each individual bead covers very little surface area, and they look best when sewn on.


Sandals are the easiest footwear to work with, as you have access all around the straps. Boots also are a good choice because you can easily sew around the top edge of the boot. Traditional dress shoes are suitable as well, but it's a lot harder to sew beads to the toe of dress shoes, in which case you'll have to use a hot-glue gun to attach the beads.

Use illusion cord instead of traditional thread to sew on beads; the clear, plastic thread is a lot stronger. It's available at bead and craft stores. You can also use embroidery thread, which is quite sturdy and comes in a range of colors that you can use to match your shoes or the beads. Selecting a needle is easy: Always use a beading needle, which is longer and bends easily.

Keep scissors at hand for cutting cords or threads. Use masking tape to secure beads in place as you sew them. A flexible measuring tape helps with exact measurements.

Beading Tips

As a novice, start with just a few small to medium-size beads and don’t try to execute intricate patterns or designs, as you could get discouraged.

Attach large beads to a shoe individually. Large beads tend to be heavy, so add a touch of craft glue, in addition to stitching it in place. Glue also helps keep the bead from bouncing.

Add strands of beads to your shoes securely by creating a base of illusion cord directly onto the area where you want the beads, making a horizontal or vertical row of stitches. Then, by pulling the cord even on either side of the stitches you’ve just sewn, you can add beads to either side of the cord. Lock each beaded strand to the shoe by sewing against the back to the material of the shoe, where you made your original row of stitches. Repeat with the other side of the illusion cord. This creates a more fixed environment for your beads.

About the Author

Lane Cummings

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."