How to Make Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz

I've been up to my eyeballs in costumes, props, and set painting for my son, Jonathan's high school production of The Wizard of Oz.

Unlike some of the other shows he's been in, this one has a lot of moving parts to it. (Which, I'd like to just say right here that the original creators of the old-school 1939 Wizard of Oz were genius. *bows down*)

And like every single other time my kids have been in stuff and especially when I vow I'm just going to sit it out, I've done nothing of the sort. In fact, I'm not only designing and gathering costumes, I'm building and painting sets and making (technically begging, borrowing, and stealing) props. (And chewing on Tylenol like it was candy, but that's not important right now...)

Jonathan plays the Cowardly Lion (one day he'll forgive me for putting him in that uber-furry suit under the hot lights. I don't think today's that day) and our sweet next-door-neighbor and good friend, Tessia is the beautiful Dorothy.

Wizard of oz cowardly lion

So again, I've been collecting/creating costumes and props and all that and the most famous prop of all was a little disappointing. The Ruby Slippers.

I looked. In costume and party stores and online and all the Ruby Slippers I found left me wanting. Besides the shoe itself, my Dorothy has tiny feet. 5 1/2.  So, I was a bit discouraged, but then I remembered that, "Hey! I can make stuff!" And so the quest began for the perfect Ruby Slippers to fit our very own Dorothy With the Tiny Feet.

As it turned out, Tessia had a pair of old character shoes (those are the Mary Janes with the slight heel used for stage people) that she was willing to let me mess with. Plus, they fit her uber-tiny feet perfectly.

Here's the instructions:

DIY - How to Make Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in the Wizard of Oz

You will need:

  • A pair of shoes to be sparkled.
  • Sandpaper.
  • White fabric glue. (Very important that you choose fabric glue. It works 100% better than just regular white glue and adheres beautifully to the leather. Trust me.)
  • Super fine glitter. In this case, Red. (Don't choose Kindergarten craft type glitter. You will not be happy with the result. Again, you really must trust me on this.)
  • Clear Spray sealer.

1) Start with a pair of shoes you want glittered up. Once you commit, there's no going back.

Ruby slippers before

2) Make sure the surfaces are all clean and sand the shoes very lightly, just to rough up the surface. This was kind of painful. They were really nice leather shoes.

3) Generously paint the white fabric glue on one side of the shoe.

Ruby slippers glue

4) And add glitter immediately. You're going to do a few coats so don't make yourself crazy worrying about getting perfect coverage on the first pass.

Ruby slippers glitter

5) Take your time with the glue and glitter and do one side at a time. Be very patient with the spots you may have missed and just wait until the first pass is dry before you go filling in. (I found this out the hard way because I got so excited I tried to do more and ended up with bald spots in the shoe from where my fingers had accidentally touched some spots.

So, again. Just wait between coats until everything is dry.

6) Paint the other side and sprinkle with glitter. You will already be thrilled at this point with how beautiful it's turning out. Go ahead and celebrate. Just be patient and wait for the coat to be dry before applying the next one.

Ruby slippers half done

7) You're halfway there and they look fantastic. This is the point where you start looking around the house for other things to glitter. You're so good! You're a Glittering Goddess! Resist the temptation and just get the shoes finished, please.

8) In this case, the shoes had a strap which I waited patiently (!) to paint until the rest of the shoe was dry. It was at that point that I also addressed the bald spot issue. The glue goes on easily over the dry glitter and that second coat just makes it sing,

Ruby slipper with strap

9) Spray the finished dried shoes with a Clear Sealant in a well ventilated area. And wait for it to dry.

10) You've spent about three good days on these shoes. It's best to wait until they're completely sealed and looking fabulous.

Ruby slippers on dorothy

11) Dorothy was thrilled with her new shoes. The glitter held up beautifully under the lights and because we had sealed them she wasn't constantly leaving a trail of glitter. WIN!

12) I love the added special effect, too. Kudos to our photographer, Dan Shalaby for that.

Ruby slipper with special effects

I'm sure you're anxious to try this yourself.

However, if you're in the South Orange County area next weekend, I'd like to personally invite you to see the Ruby Slippers live and in person and the cast of  Pacific Coast High School Drama perform The Wizard of Oz. You can see my props, too. And of course, my son, the lion.

Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. May 30th, May 31st, and June 1st at 7:00 pm. The tickets are reasonably priced at $10 apiece and there are also 2 matinees on Friday, May 31st and Saturday, June 1st at 2:30 pm.

The shows will be performed at: the Attic Community Theater • 2834 S Fairview Street •  Santa Ana, CA •  92704

"Oh, Auntie Em! There's no place like home!"