I started by looking for design inspiration. Most of the stenciled shoes during this period are flat or have tiny little heels, but I did find some earlier examples with slightly taller heels that looked more like my shoes. I also liked that a few of these shoes used gold metallic paint, so I decided to do something similar with mine.
For the painted pattern, I based my design on these shoes with decorative stripes.
My shoes are painted with acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium. When you paint suede with acrylic paint, the surface gets smoother and looks more like regular leather, which is a nice bonus. After painting the base color, I used painter's tape to help me space the stripes and draw in the little sun shapes. I used an oil-based paint pen to draw the designs on the shoes. It took a while to cover the entire surface, but it wasn't very difficult work - just tedious. I also painted the heels with the gold paint just to add a bit more contrast.
After the painting was finished, I sewed strips of gold colored silk around the edges and added false seams to the sides. I tried gluing this binding on first, but the glue kept bleeding through my fabric and staining the outside, so I gave up and sewed it all on by hand. I finished the shoes with a strip of pinked and pleated trim over the vamp.
Here is the "before"
And here is the "after"
I won't lie - this project was a LOT of work, but I'd definitely try these techniques again to make cheap, customized shoes for the 1780's or 90's. But unfortunately, these particular shoes are too big and refuse to stay on my feet, even with thick insoles and a ton of stuffing in the toes. I'm not sure if I'll ever wear them to an actual event or not, but at least it was a good learning experience.
Oh well. You win some, you lose some!