Getting your first pair- or even a new pair-of pointe shoes is a very exciting time. It's like a right of passage you strive for growing up in the world of dance. Yet, it can become frustrating having so many steps before actually being able to put those bad boys on. It's like a gourmet meal, there is a lot of preparation involved, but the end result is worth the effort. My hope is that whoever reads this can find a quick, easy flow for sewing their pointe shoes!
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Step 1: STEP ONE: Gather Materials
You will need…
-pointe shoes (your personal brand - I recommend getting fitted at a dance shoe store with a specialist)
-sewing needle and thread matching the color of your shoes OR dental floss (a matter of preference)
-elastic for each shoe
-ribbons for each shoe
Step 2: STEP TWO: Placement & Measuring of Elastics
DISCLAIMER: I will be demonstrating how to sew pointe shoes with one elastic per shoe.
Start by trying on your first shoe. It doesn't matter which one, but the shoes will mold to you feet over time so keep track of which is which (I recommend labeling them on the inside). You will need to try on your shoes once or twice more to find the right length and positioning for your elastics. When you purchase pointe shoes you will be given one long elastic band that you will have to cut down into two pieces, one for each shoe.
There is a vertical seam on the back/heel of the shoe. (See photos above) On either side of this seam is where you will be sewing the ends of your elastics. With your shoe on your foot you will hold the end of the elastic on one side of the seam on the inside of the shoe. (See photo above) While holding it down, pull the rest of the elastic over the top of your foot. Bring it to meet the end of the elastic that you are holding down and place it next to that end on the other side of the seam. Measure a length that is comfortable for you. Remember to make it snug enough to allow for support and for the elastic to stretch out over time but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. Take your time with this step to make sure you have the right length and then cut your elastic accordingly. Like my Grampa says: measure twice, cut once!
Repeat steps with the second shoe.
Step 3: STEP THREE: Measure Thread
As I mentioned in the first step, you can use thread or dental floss for sewing. Some people use floss because it provides a stronger base for elastics and ribbons. I personally prefer thread because of the resulting cleaner look. Again it doesn't affect your sewing, so you can decide!
I usually go for about an arm's length of thread to begin. Cut the end of your thread. Thread the needle and pull the thread through, so that the ends of the thread meet. This results in a double layer of sewing, which creates a stronger stitch.
Beginning sewers may think to make a knot right away, but have patience grasshoppers.
Step 4: STEP FOUR: Sew Elastics
Take your first shoe once again and place the elastic next to your heel seam as in STEP TWO. Hold it down with your thumb and forefinger of your non-sewing hand. Starting from the inside, close to a corner, begin to sew. Make one small (1/4 inch or less) stitch about 1/4 inch from the elastic's edge. Once you have pulled your first stitch through now is the time to make a knot with the end of the thread and the thread you pulled through. (See photos above) Continue to sew along the first edge, being sure to pull the thread tight after each stitch. You will sew a square to bring your stitches to meet with where you started. (See photos above) Your last stitch should be on the inside of the shoe so you can tie another knot using the ends of the thread from your first knot. Snip your thread and start on the other end of the elastic. Make sure your elastic is not twisted. I recommend putting on your shoe once more and pulling the elastic over your foot to double check placement.
Repeat steps for sewing second side of elastic and again for the second shoe.
Step 5: STEP FIVE: Placement & Measuring of Ribbons
Similarly to the elastics, the ribbons are sewn next to seams. There are seams on either side of your pointe shoes (at your instep and on the outside). The ribbon will be sewn right next to the seam on the heel side. Place the end of the ribbon far enough down to perform the same box pattern you stitched on your elastics. The opposite end of each ribbon will remain loose, as the ribbons are wrapped around the ankles and tied to secure the shoes further.
Step 6: STEP SIX: Sew Ribbons
You will be following the same pattern as the elastics. Go back to STEP FOUR if you need a recap. You will use these steps for all four of your ribbons.
Step 7: STEP SEVEN: Singe Ends of Ribbons
It's time to grab an adult and some matches or a lighter. Carefully take the end of your ribbon that isn't sewn and lightly singe the edge. It will only take a second and you will see that the edge hardens. This will prevent the ends of your ribbons from fraying. Do this to all the other ribbons. This concludes your sewing experience!