Introduction: How I Prepare Pointe Shoes

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I searched on Instructable but I didn't find any tutorial about pointe shoes. I'm trying to do it myself, but I have to warn you: I'm not a professional dancer, I just dance and I like to dance. This is how I prepare my pointe shoes.

Note that I do not cut the inner sole as Natalie Portman does in "The Black Swan" and I don't tear away the fabric sole as they do in "Center Stage". With this I don't mean "they are wrong", but I mean "for me, for my feet my way is better".

One pair of pointe shoes of your choice - this tutorial is done on Sansha shoes like Recital, Premerie e Partenaire
One pair of feet - yours :)
Elastic bands 4 cm and 0,5 cm tall
Cotton thread for sewing and for crochet
Whatever kind of stockings and pads you use

Step 1: Measure

Generally new pointe shoes are not left or right, so decide which will be your left shoe and which will be you right shoe. I know that some dancers switch them so they will not be worn out only on the side most used, but I prefere to use them only on one foot because the shoe takes the shape on my foot and this makes the pointe work less painful.

I write an "S" on the sole of my left shoe (generally I go over the S in Sansha mark) or in the inner sole. The reason of the "S" is that in Italian "left" is "sinistra".

Take off all the things you won't use, as labels and elastic bands (I don't like the transparent band Sansha sews on the pointes, it always breaks my stockings....).

Put on you stockings and toe pads and everything you use for pointe work. Then put your foot in the shoe.

Without totally putting on the shoe, go on demi pointe. Where your foot parts from the sole there is the spot where the shoe needs to be bended. Mark the inner sole with a pencil.

Go en pointe. You obviuosly now that know the shoe isn't in touch with your foot's arch. No problem, you'll break your shoe later.

Put two safety pins in the spots of the shoe where your arch feet is higher.

(Please note that in two of the images it seems that the notes on the image can't stay in the right spot. I don't know why....)

Step 2: Sew the Ribbons and the Elastic Bands

In the spot you inserted the safety pins you have to sew the ribbons. Given that if you're reading this guide you're not a professional dancer, you may want to add here a 4 cm elastic band. I did and I found that it really helps in keeping the shoe in place. This band should not squeeze you foot, I used a 6 cm long band plus the part for sewing.

Sew another elastic band on the heel, that should go around your ankle. It should be more or less 12 cm long plus the part for sewing.

Normally, dancers use only one of these elastic bands, not both, but I found out that is very comfortable to have both, they keep the pointe in place very well. All this almost turns a normal pointe shoe in a Sansha Futura.

Lots of dancer use a 0,5 cm elastic band too, more or less 2 cm long. I put it between the two parts of the ankle band. When you tie your pointe, you have to pass the ribbon in this band, so it will be more stable.

I've seen a lot of different ways to sew these bands, many dancers just sew a little band near the ankle, but not around. I just write what I do and what it's good for my feet :)

Pull the string carefully, it would not be painful. You would hide the knot in the shoe when you wear it.

Step 3: Two Ways of Preparing the Platform

I've used two ways to prepared the platform and once I've used them together (in the ReArt pair).

This first one is the simpler: just buy a pair of leather tips and glue them on the platform.

The second is less simple, but it seems to be more effective. Take a big needle and the cotton thread for crochet. You should "embroid" some stitches all around the tip. This way makes the platform more lasting and if you do it very well, the pointe shoe should stay up by itself, given you more help. Maybe you'll have to use pliers to push and pull the neddle in an out the tip.

Some dancers cut away the fabric on the platform and some other don't care about threads that go out of the pointe shoe, but being a "crocheter" too, I prefere to hide all the ends.

In my ReArt pair I glued the leather tips and then I sewed them.

Step 4: Breaking in the Pointe

There are a lot of guides about how you should break your pointe shoes, but here I tell you how I do.

First I break them to be en pointe. I put them on and I go en pointe, trying to pull my heel as back as I could. When the shoe is bended a little, I pull it of and bend it with my hands.

Then I put the heel part of the shoe in the crack of the door and I open and close the door repeatedly, so that part will be softer. This is because I don't need a hard part there. As I said in the introduction, Natalie Portman in "Black Swan" cut it totally away, more or less down to the half of the foot. I prefer a lot of support.

Step 5: Breaking for Demi Pointe

To me, this is the more difficult part, I once ruined a pair of shoes for breaking them in the wrong spot (I then saved them :-)).

You should break pointe shoe where you foot parts from the sole, but this spot is nearer to your toes than it seems. Go en pointe, than bend carefully up the sole. Mark the part of the outer sole where it should bend. Take off the shoe and bend it with your hands (you should hear some "crack" sounds). The spot is generally near the box.

In one case, I cut the sole with a cutter to easy this passage and it went very well. The cut is only on the outer sole and when I go en pointe the sole is "reuinted" so it gives me the support I need.

Scratch the sole near your toes with a pair of scissors or something sharp, making X patterns.

To finish in breaking them and start to take your feet's shape wet the harder parts (the ones that hurts) with alcohol and/or water and do a lot of demi pointe/pointe exercise and violà! Your pointe shoes are ready :)

I did a tutorial about how I saved two pairs of Sansha that I broken in wrongly: