Two Shoe Repairs (and one’s a DIY!)

by Kristen on January 5, 2012 · 43 comments

in DIY, Fix-It!

I bought this pair of shoes on clearance a few years back for something like $7.

I liked them because they were wide enough for my feet (Woo!), and the heel is low enough to be practical (I don’t adore walking in heels, and I’m kind of tall to begin with, so I hate to make myself too much taller.)

The problem is, one of the heel tips (the rubbery part) came off on my Aldi trip to Chicago. This was most unfortunate timing, given that airline travel seems to require miles of walking (at least at O’Hare!).

After I got home, the shoes sat, unworn, in my closet for a while, and then I remembered that there’s a shoe repair place nearby. So, I brought my shoes in, and for $11.50, I got two brand new, real rubber heel tips (the old ones were plastic).

Of course, $11.50 is more than I paid for the shoes in the first place. But, the odds of me finding another pair I liked for $11.50 were slim to none, and plus, this means I can wear these shoes instead of having to throw them away.

Repair definitely seems like the frugal and responsible option.

This past fall seemed to be The One Where All My Dress Shoes Fall Apart because both of my black ballet flats began to lose their soles.

I decided to buy a tube of Shoe Goo at a local hardware store and see if I could repair them myself. They make a kind specifically for shoes, but I just bought the basic stuff.

I spread the glue in the appropriate areas, stuck bar stool feet inside the shoes to hold them down, and let them dry overnight.

Unfortunately, it seems that I used more glue than was necessary (I should have checked to see if it was seeping out after I put the bar stools in place). And the glue dried off-white, which made the seepage pretty obvious.

So, I colored the dried glue with a black Sharpie, and it’s not very noticeable now.

From above, where most people will see my shoes, it’s not a problem at all, actually.

And since I wear my jeans fairly long, it’s not like anyone really gets a peek at the bottom-most part of my shoes.

(um, except for when I put my camera on the floor and then post the photo on my blog!)

Shoe Goo isn’t very expensive, and a single tube is more than enough to repair multiple pairs of shoes. So, I’d say this repair was a frugal win because a new pair of shoes would cost way more than $3-$5. Even thrift store shoes cost that much, and I’d really rather have my own broken-in pair of shoes than a pair of thrift store shoes anyhow!

Do you ever opt to repair your shoes?

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Today’s 365 post: An easy painting project

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah January 5, 2012 at 7:48 am

Yes, **when it’s possible** I do get my shoes repaired! I wear boots frequently in the fall/winter. Like you, Kristen, shoes–specifically boots, aren’t the easiest to find (because of my big feet and desire to have a smaller heel). Even cheaper boots aren’t that cheap, so I try to take care of the boots I do have. In the last 5 years, I’ve had one pair of boots repaired. However, my cheaper-made boots weren’t repairable (per the repair store owner). Each of these lasted less than 1 season. Two pairs of boots had to be tossed. Now, I try to buy higher quality boots. They cost more money, but they seem to last longer and are more likely to be repairable.

My husband obsessively polishes his shoes. It’s a habit formed when he was in the army (yet, no habit to make the bed, go figure). We have a big popcorn tin of shoe shine/polish/brushes and cloths that he pulls out each week. The amount of shoe polish in that can is ridiculous, but it keeps his (and my) shoes looking better longer which saves us $$ in the long run.

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2 Virginia Dare January 5, 2012 at 7:59 am

It is true: more expensive shoes tend to be more repair-able. If you are willing to do that, you are making them more of an investment.

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3 Diedra B January 5, 2012 at 8:58 am

I really thought that bed-making habit was the one thing people took away, that and clothes-folding.

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4 Elaine in Ark January 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

My brother took the bed-making habit with him when he left the service. He absolutely cannot sleep in a bed if the bottom sheet has even one little wrinkle in it. Drove my sister-in-law a bit nuts, but as long as he’s willing to make the bed, it’s not a real problem (just something very OCD that we can needle him about).

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5 reese January 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

My dad is obsessive about ironing. Won’t leave the house without ironing everything. He even irons bed sheets….

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6 Amy @ Feathered Friendsy January 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Can I borrow your dad? He could really do a number on my closet….

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7 Jo@simplybeingmum January 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

My Hubby polishes his too :-) (and mine and the kids…) It must increase the life span…all that effort!

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8 Sharon January 5, 2012 at 7:51 am

I love that you got your shoes repaired. It keeps a shoe repair service in business! My husband’s shoes always get re-soled…they are so expensive! Women’s shoes are made so much cheaper. However, I have a couple of pairs of shoes that I ADORE, and I think it would be a great idea to get them fixed instead of buying new ones. Thanks for the idea Kristen!! :)!

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9 Virginia Dare January 5, 2012 at 8:03 am

Don’t take the glue seepage personally, Kristen. I think it’s just how that product works. It sort of expands to get in everywhere. Most anyone who’s ever tried to glue shoes probably has had the experiences of regular glue not usually being up for the task–especially something involving the soles. You were smart to brace them with the bar stool. My mom tried to fix several of our sneakers way-back-when, and as the glue expanded it just looked awful. No kid wants sneakers that look like they are exploding with goo!

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10 Samantha January 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

Whenever possible I always prefer to repair. It takes me forever to find shoes that I really love, so when I do, I want them to last. I did just throw out a pair of Skechers though, but in my defence I had worn them for almost 6 years at least several times a week. The leather started to fall apart so it was time to say goodbye.

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11 Diedra B January 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

I have repaired my shoes in the past. Right now I have a couple of pairs waiting to go to the repair shop. It’s not in my neighborhood and the owner is quite old. I certainly hope the shop is still open.
I’d rather repair a great pair of shoes that fit well than buy a new pair that rub me in all the wrong places.

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12 Senora H-B January 5, 2012 at 9:08 am

I have had several pairs of shoes and a purse repaired at the local cobbler. I’ve had the straps tacked down on two pairs of shoes (the elastic holding the buckle on broke down) and they are good as new, which is awesome because I love them! I also had a pair of shoes re-soled. It was pretty expensive to have done, but I really like these shoes. Plus, the leather soles they originally had were SO slippery! I had my briefcase/purse handles stitched because they were removable and kept popping off when the bag was full.

I think the total of all four repairs was less than $100. That sounds like a lot, but I’ve made it possible to get probably 10 more years out of most of those items (probably more out of the purse). $10/year is a pretty good investment in my book – especially for high quality shoes and my favorite purse.

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13 Molly January 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

Me too! I have one pair of shoes that I’ve had since middle school (we had a uniform, so I wore them every day) that I’ve resoled 3 times. I think this might be the last one, though, since the sides are starting to crack pretty badly.
I also resoled my one pair of black heels because they are the BEST heels – I’ve run down Michigan Avenue in them to make a wedding on time. No way I’m getting rid of those suckers if they can be repaired.

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14 Katy @ Purposely Frugal January 5, 2012 at 9:37 am

We got the soles repaired on my husbands boots one time. And I’ve used black sharpie to cover up scuff marks on black boots and shoes. Here’s a before and after picture:
http://purposelyfrugal.com/2011/11/03/reviving-old-boots/#.TwW1oMAxBMk

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15 Linda H. January 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

I feel so good when I can repair something rather than throw it away. I tried to repair a pair of shoes once with a hot glue gun and it looked okay, but didn’t hold. I’m glad to know about Shoe Goo.

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16 Leigh Ann January 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

I have often had shoes repaired at the cobbler (soles etc). They will also stretch leather shoes (which is great for wide feet!). I have also bought light colored shoes at goodwill and then painted them with shoe paint! Just like furniture they look new. (polish often does not cover on light colored shoes)

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17 WilliamB January 5, 2012 at 10:12 am

I was about to write “Definitely” then realized my repair habits aren’t total: I repair the heels and soles of dress shoes. Dress shoe uppers aren’t repairable. Running shoe soles aren’t repairable; I’ve never had running shoe uppers wear out before the sole.

A hint: sneakers will last longer if you wash them sometimes. Washing doesn’t damage the material or the soles, but the ingrained dirt will by abrading the material. Don’t wash the insoles (they need to remain stiff), remove laces but wash them also; they’ll come out tangled but clean.

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18 Jo@simplybeingmum January 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

The cushioning always goes on my running shoes first inside the sole! That’s something you can’t do owt about. Very expensive to ignore it also… a couple of trips to the Osteopath soon eat up any savings from buying a new pair!

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19 Ani Mia January 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

I have found that too. I have perfect outer shoes and worn out insoles. A salesman at the running store suggested buying inserts. It really worked and I can now extend the life of my running shoes 3-9 months depending on how much I am running.

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20 thriftygal January 5, 2012 at 10:15 am

i always get my shoes repaired too, since i rarely find shoes i really like. i’ve gotten wedges resoled (for approx $35, but i think they are totally worth it) and heel tips redone (for $15 – but that’s normal in these parts). And just yesterday, i super-glued a chunk of rubber coming off the toe part of the sole on my vintage boots myself. That was an upgrade from my temporary fix of scotch tape that was holding it in place. I guess it was “mend your own shoes day” yesterday :)

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21 Rachael January 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

I have a pair of brown leather boots from Target that cost $50. I wear them so often that the heels wore down, and I had them re-soled for $25, which should last a few years. I love those boots – I’m actually wearing them right now! – and I know re-soling them will get me several more years of wear.

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22 Elizabeth L. January 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

I buy pretty expensive heels because I wear heels almost every day to work (probably 4 out of 5 days), and then on the weekends or to church. I’ve found that good quality shoes (which means more expensive) last much longer and hold up well to the amount of wear they get.

Because I paid so much for the shoes in the first place (even on sale or with a coupon!), I always turn to repair before replacement. The pair I’m wearing today has had the rubber heel replaced twice and lots of scratches/scuffs buffed out.

I would much rather fix a pair of shoes I love than buy a new pair I’m unsure about!

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23 Emma January 5, 2012 at 10:38 am

I have been dealing with the same problem on two pairs of my own flats and have been meaning to fix them up for some time now. Thank you for posting this so I know what to do.

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24 Kelly January 5, 2012 at 10:47 am

I have a pair of character shoes I use for a chorus I’m in – they are part of the costume we have to wear to performances. And actually for heels they are quite comfortable.

Problem is that I have cats and rescue cats fairly often and the last batch of cats were chewers. The strap on one of the shoes got chewed in half. I hope they can be repaired because I do not want to buy a new set of these shoes. I will take them to the local cobbler soon.

Thanks for posting!

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25 reese January 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

…I feel awful about my shoes. I’m 25 and haven’t had a pair of shoes come close to running out of steam to the point of needing repair. I usually get tired of them before and throw them out or donate them.

I will, however, say that I’ve gotten rid of all the shoes I don’t care about and am now left with my favorites. I anticipate needing to either repair them or find replacements in the next five years.

I work in a shoe store, and do repairs on shoes as well, and am amazed at the kinds of wear and tear I see on shoes. One man came in and was practically irate that his waterproof Gore-Tex shoes were getting his feet wet! He had only had them a year! Turns out he had two HUGE holes in each shoe. And holes aren’t waterproof ;) It was cheaper for him to get a new pair than repair the liner and material upper.

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26 Brenny January 5, 2012 at 11:26 am

When it seemed like our kids were outgrowing a pair of shoes every 3 months or so, and wearing them out before they outgrew them (how do they DO that?!!!), we used shoe goo to fill in holes in the soles. The patch was generally in good shape when the sneakers were too badly worn to repair anymore!

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27 Brenny January 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

P.S.—After the shoe goo is dry, you can trim the oozes with a sharp blade, like a craft knife or single edge razor blade.

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28 Casey January 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

I work in a professional environment and we are required to dress accordingly. Since my dress shoes are more expensive than my casual shoes, I always have them repaired. Usually, I can bargain with the cobblar and get new rubber heels for $8-10 depending upon the heel size. I had new heel pads put on my husband’s Cole Haan dress shoes for $15. He keeps the shoes polished so with all the repairs, we rarely have to buy shoes.

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29 Linda January 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I tip my hat to you Frugal Girl. Using a stool was genius. I bought shoe goo when the sole of my shoes started to separate. The trouble is I never used it because I couldn’t think of any way to hold the parts together while the glue dried.

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30 Heather :) :) :) January 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I haven’t had to repair my shoes in a very long time. When I was still living in Oregon, there was a shoe-repair shop near where I worked. I would take my shoes there from time to time, especially my Birkenstocks…because they were spendy..and the shoe repair guy could put new soles on them. it was great :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

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31 Candace January 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for the information! I have such a hard time finding shoes I like, especially because I’m also tall and finding cute flats is so much harder than finding cute heels (particularly with boots). I’ve had shoes repaired in the past, which is usually less expensive than buying new shoes anyway, but I’d never thought of trying to repair them myself. What a great idea!

Just out of curiosity, how tall is kind of tall?

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32 Jo@simplybeingmum January 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I purchased some leather knee high black (riding style) boots about 3 years ago off eBay (second-hand) for 35. I wore them and wore them and wore them (you get the picture) then early this year discovered the sole had a hole in one boot as I walked to school in the rain. I’d had my eye on a pair of Dune boots for about a year but couldn’t justify buying them at 125 – but surely a hole in the sole of my well-worn pair resolved any guilt issues of buying this new pair. It even got to the point where the new boots were actually in my house, then I just couldn’t do it – I returned them. Popped to the local cobblers (repair shop) and 12.50 lighter my old boots were restored to their former glory!

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33 Katy Wolk-Stanley January 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I know you’re happy with your Sharpie action. But an Exact-O knife should slice the extra glue off.

Katy

P.S. I wish you had taken a picture of your shoe-wearing stool.

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34 Hanelene January 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I too were expensive dress shoes for work every day. I have been wearing the same three pairs (1 black, one brown and one pair of black boots) for 4-5 years now and have gone through many many heel repairs and one re-soling on the black pair. I hate having sore feet, so I would much rather spend money on good shoes. In my experience, running shoes have to be replaced more frequently as the mid-sole foam wears out and then I get shin-splints.

I’m with your usual saying on this one Kristen – be frugal where you can so you can spend more where it is important to you – such as shoes or camera equipment :)

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35 Lythrum January 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I like to wear moccasins, and have been buying Minnetonka moccasins for years. The last few pairs that I bought have had the stitching in the soles come apart after just a month or so of wear. I used a tube of superglue at work to glue the sole back on and wore it for over a year like that. They are still my shoes that I wear out in the garden and around the house. I used the same superglue to repair my watchband where the leather came loose, and wore the watch for over a year with no problems too.

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36 Dawn January 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I have a pair of pumps that have lost the heel tip on one shoe, but we live in such a rural area that I don’t know of any shoe repair places nearby. I wonder if you could find something like that online… The shoes are in great shape, except that I’m walking on a nail instead of a heel tip on that one shoe. Almost made for a very interesting situation at church one night! My husband repaired a pair of Bass dress shoes this fall with some kind of shoe cement that his father had. They’ve held up for a couple of months now. I don’t remember that it expanded like the shoe goo. We gave it back to them or I would post the name of the stuff. Hooray for making nice shoes last longer!

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37 katie January 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Yes, when I can get away with it I’ll repair shoes. I have a pair of vintage Doc Martin’s I’ve been babying for over a decade.

I’ve had a couple of pairs recently that I had to admit had finally met the end of their natural lives. I wear holes straight through the soles into the foot bed and I didn’t catch it in time.

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38 Thrifty Mom in Boise January 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I love shoe goo. It has been a life saver in fixing my kids sneakers which always seem to want to give out just before the end of the school year. Shoe Goo lets me repair them so we make it until summer break. Then we manage to still use them for camp trips all summer. I use the sharpie too on scuffs.

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39 FrugalLivingTips January 6, 2012 at 11:46 am

When i find a pair of shoes i love I try to keep them alive for as long as possible. but i do agree the cost of having heels replaced can often be more than the cost of the shoes.

I used to buy replacement rubber heels from a shop which meant that I could fix them up for a fraction of the shop cost but unfortunately they don’t sell them any more.

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40 Karen January 7, 2012 at 12:56 am

Oh, yes! I have glued little “tags” of scuffed leather back down on my favorites twice now. I have also had boot heels replaced, and have seen the ones you could put on yourself. My husband wears through sneakers like I never imagined possible at work so they get repaired until they disintigrate. We use contact cement for them because function is the priority, not appearance. I have used a set of woodworking clamps that look kind of like huge clothespins. They have rubber on the grip part so don’t scratch. I also have restitched moccasin type slippers myself. Use a thimble!

Polishing shoes really does help. Not the instant shine stuff, actual polish which is wax based. If you haven’t done it before, put clean shoes on newspaper, maybe wear thin work gloves (polish can stain your skin, nails, clothes, furniture) apply thinly, let dry a few minutes, then buff well. A shoebrush does the best job and is fast. Be careful not to get polish on the edges of the soles because it can rub off onto your floor or other ankle.

As William B said, clean shoes and shoelaces do last longer. Don’t forget the cobbler for repairs to luggage, handbags, duffle bags, and as my husband recently discovered, replacing the zipper on a pontoon boat (whatever-you-call-the-thing you zip over the inflatable bladder). We also had leather patches sewn onto a pair of winter weight coveralls to make them last longer.

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41 Tammy January 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I have always taken my shoes to the cobbler for heel tips, new soles, etc. I buy quite expensive shoes though and they need to be taken care of.

I do think that $12 for heel tips is over priced as that is a huge mark up for something that takes all of 5 minutes to do (I wait while he does them), but it’s necessary.

I am also of the personal opinion that unkempt shoes look terrible.

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42 Kim July 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

I have repaired shoes in the past, especially favorite ones or ones for a certain occasion (I do community theater and have worn many super glued shoes!). My favorite “repair” is when I needed white shoes for my friend’s wedding. My favorite pair, a comfy pair of heeled sandals, was looking really beat up, so I spray painted them. They looked great, and it only cost me part of a 97 cent can of spray paint! A word of advice, though, to anyone trying this at home: mask off the part where your foot goes. Otherwise, you’ll be sticking to the paint if you’re wearing the shoes barefoot!

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43 Tonia January 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

I use Shoe Goo frequently. It can be a delicate balance between spreading it and stopping just short of the edges to get it right. I use a ice-pop stick but I’ve heard it’s easier to spread with an ice cube. If there is any excess I scrape most of it away then rub it with my finger until the smeary remains are rolled up and brushed away. Be sure to wash your hands well after if you do this as there are chemicals in Shoo Goo that you really don’t want absorbed into your body. If you don’t notice seepage until after the Shoe Goo has been left to dry you can carefully trim it off with a craft knife.
I have a small tip for you-
I have 4 children like you do, it can be frustrating trying to tell socks apart, especially when some socks are quite stretchy and look much smaller off of the foot. I use a permanent marker to put a small dot in the toe area of each of my oldest child’s socks, two dots for the next, three for the one after that, and four for the youngest. If any last long enough to be handed down I just add a dot.

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