Vans Hawaiian Ocean shoes. They have really thick tongues. We removed the thick foam.
Like, Little Weed did, his new Vans shoes. The box says they are the Hawaiianocean model. What he did not realize and regretted was the super thick tongue that came with the shoe. Here is how to remove it.
The Vans Hawaiian Ocean model comes with a super thick and squishy tongue. It makes it harder to securely tie up your shoe laces. Little Weed wanted this thick tongue removed, so I did.
1. Remove Tongue Edging: The Vans tongue has a matching grey edging around the perimeter. Use a seam ripper and carefully remove the stitches. You will need to open up near the whole top of the tongue in order to remove the foamy tongue insert. Do not cut the edging because you will need to resew this back later.
Once the edging is opened up you will notice the tongue layers, the outer, and inner, are stitched together. Remove this stitching as well. Now you can pry open the top outer layer from the inner layer. The foam tongue insert is stuck to the inner layer with a small blob of contact cement. Also the sides of the foam might be sewn into the edging.
Vans Hawaiian Ocean tongue foam is 1.3mm thick and very large. We removed it. Photo 1 by Don Tai
Vans Hawaiian Ocean tongue foam is 1.3mm thick and very large. Note the glue blob. We removed it. Photo 2 by Don Tai
2. Remove the Tongue Foam: Insert your finger between the inner layer and the foam, using your finger to separate the foam from the inner layer. Use your finger to also rip the foam insert away from the side seams. It is easier to rip the foam than to rip out all the edging and side seams. Remove the foam insert.
3. Resew the Inner and Outer Layers: This can be done on a flatbed and should not be a problem.
4. Resew the Edging: This gets a tad tricky. The edging material is a ribbon of cloth that wraps around the front and back of the tongue edge. Getting it even front and back is very tricky. Also the edging can move away from the tongue, resulting in the tongue edges not being covered by the edging. I had to redo the edging a couple of times.
Vans Hawaiian Ocean shoes, resewn after tongue foam removal. Not a perfect sew job. Photo 3 by Don Tai
It is easier to use a needle and thread to baste the stitch alignment, otherwise the edging will shift alignment when using the sewing machine. The best method I found was to hand stitch the edging first to the inner layer, all around the opened tongue edge, then fold the edging over the outer layer, and return stitch the outer layer. This will not look great and is not strong but you are ensured the alignment is good. Once aligned, starting with the outer layer down, go over the edge with a sewing machine. If you see the inner layer not sewn it means that the edging was too much towards the outer layer. Simply sew on the inner layer side to close the edging. It does not matter much on the outer layer side as it will not show much. If you see any errant stitching you can now remove it manually with a seam ripper.
Most of the work is restitching the edging, so ripping the edging off and removing the foam tongue is pretty fast, like 10 minutes total. Take your time basting the edging so that your alignment is correct or you will need to rip everything out, rebaste and restitch. Do not get frustrated if you mess up. I messed up 4 times before getting one foot right, but sewed the other foot properly the first time. I spent a total of about 1.5 hrs for everything.
Vans Hawaiian Ocean shoes, post tongue-ectomy. Not a perfect sew job. Photo 4 by Don Tai