Cheap Weejun Color Hack

The Continental Fop

Inactive user
Very impressive stripping. I only wish the red dye on my "cordovan" Sebagos was that simple to remove. Even after some seriously hard scrubbing with an alcohol-soaked Scotch Brite adrasive pad, the red looked as though it ran all the way through the leather. Maybe the red dye sinks in deeper than the black? Who knows.

Tell you what, though. I'm going to take some 0000 steel wool and some alcohol to that first pair of Caymans for another stab at this. I like the reddish mahogany color they are now, but I do prefer the chocolate brown I got from the Fiebing's dye.

It sounds like your shoes may have 2 colors, maybe a base coat dye with a top coat of color. My black ones are just one coat. Here's a photo of what I was talking about. This is using 0000 steel wool and alcohol. I suppose you could get the same effect using a rag, it would probably just take longer.

There is a slight texture to the leather that is revealed. I wonder if doing this to the whole shoe and then dyeing it would look good. I suppose I could just as easily find flaws in the leather that the black paint hides, and the whole idea could be out the window. It seems like it would be a lot of work, and maybe something to try on a thrift store find.

This is pretty easy to hide and undo, because it isn't in a very visible spot.

v4peld.jpg
 

pweller

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Very impressive stripping. I only wish the red dye on my "cordovan" Sebagos was that simple to remove. Even after some seriously hard scrubbing with an alcohol-soaked Scotch Brite adrasive pad, the red looked as though it ran all the way through the leather. Maybe the red dye sinks in deeper than the black? Who knows.

I think that there are two ways to color leather, probably just as there are two ways to finish wood. Dye will penetrate the leather, where paint will sit on top. I think that your cordovan shoes are probably dyed red first, then painted second, at least based on your description.

Of course, I think the best leather is 'drum dyed', which means the hides are soaked in dye and the color therefore goes all the way through. The benefit is that even if the leather gets scratched, it still looks OK. So, these re-color techniques probably wouldn't work on drum-dyed leather. (Shell may be drum-dyed, I don't know for sure.)

One other wild thought: I have a book on furniture finishing, in the book they talk about how to change the color of stained wood. They say "to neutralize red, apply its complementary color - green - over it." I know it sounds weird to take green dye to your cordovan shoes, but that might be worth a try on a real pair of beaters. I think if you just apply brown overtop of the red, you'll always end up with a dark reddish-brown color (which isn't necessarily bad, but maybe isn't what your after.) And, yeah, it might turn out really bad.

I don't have a real bad pair of shoes to try this on, otherwise I'd probably throw caution to the wind. :icon_smile:
 
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Doctor Damage

Connoisseur
pweller said:
I don't have a real bad pair of shoes to try this on, otherwise I'd probably throw caution to the wind.
That what beaten down shoes from eBay are for: destroying in the name of science!

I have the Sebago Classics in black. I never got close to wearing away the finish like Pweller did (in his photo) and I don't really want to. But if I pick up a pair in the Antiqued Brown I will certainly give them the treatment and see what comes up. I kind of want a reddish colour, actually.
 

The Louche

Super Member
My try

I tried my own version of this color hack on a pair of black corrected-grain Loake Chelsea boots - I think they were from the 1800 range?

Anyhow - I basically just gave them a thorough scrubbing with rubbing alcohol and then polished them with black Synovia cream.

They look better than before but I'm still a bit disappointed. The rubbing alcohol may have dulled the plastic coating a bit at best. I'm inclined to think that all the rubbing alcohol did was to remove 4 years worth of cream and polish.

Any thoughts on what I could be doing differently to make more significant progress?

Is the quality of this corrected grain perhaps a bit better than that of the leather used on $115 Weejuns?

FWIW, these boots have seen decent wear over the past four years; they are on their second set of soles. While the shine of the corrected grain has always been a bit annoying and obvious to me, I haven't noticed any other ill effects from the grain correction process. The creases are no worse than those on my good calf shoes and there hasn't been any flaking or other odd wear characteristics...
 

The Continental Fop

Inactive user
I'm not sure if the Cayman II is corrected grain or not. But I do know that merely wiping shoes down with rubbing alcohol and then applying shoe cream alone is not going to do much to cover up the underlying color or alter it much. Shoe cream is by nature more of a conditioner than a colorant/sealer like a good wax polish.

I'd give it another go, but this time clean your shoes thoroughly with saddle soap, then wipe them with a rag and alcohol, then after the shoes are fully dried, apply some quality black wax polish like Saphir, Kiwi, Lincoln, etc.

I will say this though: I have never been as successful at getting black dress shoes to look good as I have been with brown. I've come to accept that the best that black calf shoes can look is pretty good, and that's if you religiously clean and polish them before every wearing. Which is one of the reasons I don't wear black shoes anymore except for ninja assignments.
 

srivats

Super Member
I will say this though: I have never been as successful at getting black dress shoes to look good as I have been with brown. I've come to accept that the best that black calf shoes can look is pretty good, and that's if you religiously clean and polish them before every wearing. Which is one of the reasons I don't wear black shoes anymore except for ninja assignments.

... those and your standard weddings and interviews. I have just one pair of black shoes (captoe oxfords), and I wear it maybe 2 times a year. My brown and cordovan shoes get a lot of wear.
 

Doctor Damage

Connoisseur
This has been an extremely good thread. Those of your who have participated please remember it so when the question comes up again we can post links.
 
I'm inclined to think that all the rubbing alcohol did was to remove 4 years worth of cream and polish.

Even still, that might not be a bad thing to now know.

I have a cheap thrift store, pair of shell loafers I'm trying to restore.
Part of the problem (besides looking like the previous wearer spent his days kicking jagged rocks with them) is that they have decades of polish build up, I've spent hours trying to rub it off, but the results aren't great (really it just seems to rub it in more).

I might try rubbing alcohol.
 
My attempts...

a couple caveats:
These are LLB heavy-duty handsewn boat shoes.
When I got them they had a very shiny, very red finish to them and the leather was heavy and stiff (like a weejun, in fact more like a weejun than my Sebago loafers).
To try and break them in/dull them I've been wearing them pretty hard, in the snow, in the yard etc, so the "before" pic here is significantly duller than how they arrived.
In both case, the leather looks lighter and less red in the picture thani n person.

I stripped the shoe for the first time a few days ago, I was pretty through, and got it down to an even light brown color.
Since then, the shoe has darkened up significantly, so I did a quick once-over with alcohol right before I snapped this picture.

The dark spots on the shoe are places where the alcohol is still wet (not places where the dye wasn't removed, though I had plenty of those that I attacked with a toothbrush).
If I leave the shoe to set and re-hydrate for a few days it takes on a nice even light brown color.
 

The Continental Fop

Inactive user
Oh dear lord no -- when I stripped my "cordovan" (non-brushoff) Sebagos they were red. RED. Not reddish brown. RED.

If they looked like the shoes in your pic, I would've been happy to leave them as is. No, the shoes were so red that my wife, who doesn't really care about what shoes I wear, commented upon first seeing them, "Hmm, those shoes are pretty, um, red, aren't they?"

I think the shoes themselves are great. Very comfortable, well-made, good leather, and they seem to be holding up very well (although the heels wear down faster than my Aldens, so I see new/better heels in the near future, not a bad thing probably).

What the world needs is for Alden to offer a "recession loafer". Simple brown calf, in the Weejun mode, call it $200. Not an uncobblable Cape Cod. A real Alden, no-frills, two hundred bucks. Then we wouldn't be talking about hacking Sebagos and Basses.


ConFop: When you stripped down your 'cordovan' Sebagos, is this (more or less) the colour that was revealed?

https://img261.imageshack.us/my.php?image=sebago10b.jpg
 

Doctor Damage

Connoisseur
The Continental Fop said:
Oh dear lord no -- when I stripped my "cordovan" (non-brushoff) Sebagos they were red. RED. Not reddish brown. RED. If they looked like the shoes in your pic, I would've been happy to leave them as is.
Okay, I was wondering. Because I agree that the colour in my photo is just fine. It's the antiqued brown, but the new version is much darker (so I understand). Perhaps stripping down a pair to the red and then using a reddish brown shoe dye would do the trick.

I think the shoes themselves are great. Very comfortable, well-made, good leather, and they seem to be holding up very well (although the heels wear down faster than my Aldens, so I see new/better heels in the near future, not a bad thing probably).
I've almost destroyed the soles of my black Classics, with only two long walks in wet weather. Normally I would apply topy but it just doesn't seem worth it at this price point.

What the world needs is for Alden to offer a "recession loafer". Simple brown calf, in the Weejun mode, call it $200. Not an uncobblable Cape Cod. A real Alden, no-frills, two hundred bucks.
YES. You are RIGHT.

But they won't do it. I'm sure our forum member retailers will come up with all sorts of reasons why. But I think it comes down to an unwillingness to think outside the box.
 

Tom Buchanan

Super Member
I've almost destroyed the soles of my black Classics, with only two long walks in wet weather. Normally I would apply topy but it just doesn't seem worth it at this price point.

This surprises me. I purchased a pair of Sebago Classics two years ago and they have been wearing like iron. I wear them probably 3 times a week, and even wear them on consecutive days if it is foul weather so that I do not ruin an expensive shoe. This is also my sockless weekend throw on shoe. I think the oiled leather sole and steel shank are great. I could live without the hard plastic heel.

After two years and one month of abuse, I just noticed this morning the first wearing through on the sole. Now I am torn because I only paid about $35 new on ebay, but most cobblers charge $55 for new soles and heels. I guess I should start searching ebay.
 

srivats

Super Member
I like the idea of "recession loafers". I'd love to have alden quality and nicer leathers in a lesser priced casual loafer.

Update on my SAS loafers - been wearing them a lot since I got them since they are so damned comfortable. Never needed any "breaking in" since they fit perfectly the first time I wore it. They are showing fine creases like calf and the shine is going down. From what it looks, I should have a perfect looking loafers in about two months, maybe I'll do a review then with "New" and "worn" pics.
 

Doctor Damage

Connoisseur
srivats said:
Update on my SAS loafers - been wearing them a lot since I got them since they are so damned comfortable. Never needed any "breaking in" since they fit perfectly the first time I wore it. They are showing fine creases like calf and the shine is going down. From what it looks, I should have a perfect looking loafers in about two months, maybe I'll do a review then with "New" and "worn" pics.
Keep us posted, and get some photos up if you can.

I think one of us does this blog: https://www.theweejun.com/. I recommend checking it out since the author has done a "cheap Weejun hack" much like ConFop and has come up with some good results (see photo below). I would be happy to have shoes that looked like this when done!

https://img207.imageshack.us/my.php?image=myweejunscolorhack.jpg
 

srivats

Super Member
DD, I found one of your old posts (with pics) about SAS penny loafers:
https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showpost.php?p=376196&postcount=7

My loafers started out looking exactly like those in the 2nd set of pics, but the finish is starting to somewhat dull. They are still shiny and with a good buffing, the shine comes back almost fully. But I think they will end up looking like the first pic in 2 months' time.

I haven't tried out a recent bass or sebago and I think it will be good to compare them with SAS. I spoke with zappos customser service, and they said that the Bass Logan was the only non-shiny shoe offered by Bass. I then searched for sebago loafers and noticed that sebago makes 2 brown loafers in non-shiny leathers - sadly only with rubber soles:

(click on pics for link to zappos site):

1. Sebago sherman (brown, waxy pull-up - not sure if the brown is corrected or full grain):



Here is a pic from sebago's website:


2. Sebago Arcus (waterproof full grain leather):



I am still deciding between the Bass Gilman and the above 2 shoes. Anyone owning the sebago arcus or sherman?
 
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The Continental Fop

Inactive user
Cool blog, and flattered the author tried the color hack I described. His shoes turned out quite different than mine, though -- whether it's the different dye or his use of shoe cream rather than a wax polish, his shoes look like old shoes while mine look new. I'm guessing, though, given the commentary on the blog, he's going after more of a vintage look than I am.
 

Baracuta1965

Starting Member
Hi Guys, I should not have been surprised that one of you discovered my new blog (TheWeejun.com) even before I'd had a chance to make my first post on this forum!

Thanks for the props..

Mr Fop - I think you are quite right that the dye may have been the cause of the more vintage look. Fieblings is harder to find in the UK. There is someone who sells all colours on Ebay UK but of course that takes a few days and you all know what it's like when you decide to do some 'shoe hacking', there's no time like the present. For that read: impatient fool.

Also I thought that as the rubbing alcohol had worked so well on the gloss that if I made a boo boo I could always try rubbing them down again.

The dye I used is well known to the British and like many typically half assed UK products only seems to come in a minimal variety of unexciting colours. I chose their 'Medium Brown' for this experiment, as opposed to an American product that would have been called 'New Hampshire Autumn Chestnut' or something.

I haven't mentioned it yet on theweejun.com but I have a pair of black post Wilton weejuns that I bought nearly new on Ebay US simply because the photos made the shoes and the leather look near perfect. When they arrived I was very impressed with the quality of leather used on this pair and they look stunning. In fact they are the first black shoes I've bought in many a year. The thing is that the Wilton shoes are better made in general but as has been mentioned on here before, towards the end of the US made period the quality was already dumbing down, and the candy apple finish of the pair I hacked was actually shocking to me when I opened the USPS parcel! So it's definitely worth checking out offshore models that must have varied from year to year, customer to customer and factory to factory.

Did you post photos of your 'like new' finish CF? I would be interested to see the outcome compared to my 'vintage' look.

Cheers

Baracuta1965
 
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