When you’re a ballerina, your pointe shoes are the most important part of your ensemble. They need to be in good condition so that you can perform at your best. One way to keep your pointe shoes in good condition is to sew on new elastic and ribbon.
So, how do you sew elastic and ribbon on pointe shoes? You will need to sew the elastic and ribbon on the inside cotton lining of the shoes, not the satin on the outside. Using the zigzag stitch to sew will also help the elastic and ribbon stay secure on the shoes.
Although sewing on pointe shoes may seem like a daunting task, it is actually quite simple. You can follow these easy steps, and you will be able to customize your pointe shoes exactly the way you want them!
What Are Pointe Shoes?
Pointe shoes are special ballet shoes that allow dancers to dance on their toes or ‘en pointe. The shoes are specially designed to support the dancer’s feet and ankles while they are performing on stage.
Pointe shoes have a stiff toe box that helps to support the dancer’s weight, and they also have a special leather or fabric sole that helps to grip the floor. The shoes are often fitted with ribbons and elastics that help to secure them to the dancer’s feet.
However, if the shoes are not fitted with ribbons or elastics, there’s a way that you can customize them. Let’s take a look.
How To Sew Ribbons On Pointe Shoes
Ribbons are added to pointe shoes so that you can tie them around your ankles to make the shoes more secure. To sew ribbons on pointe shoes, you will need the following materials:
- Ribbon in a color that matches your shoes. You can use Stretch Pointe Shoe Ribbon, which is made of stretchy satin materials designed for pointe shoes.
- A sewing needle and cotton thread that matches the color of the ribbon
- Sewing pins
- Fabric markers or tailor’s chalk
Step 1: Cut your ribbons.
Cut four pieces of ribbons of equal length. The ribbons will be sewn to both sides of each shoe, so the length should be long enough to wrap around your ankles a few times.
The easiest way to do this is to fold the piece of ribbon in half twice and cut the ribbon to get four equal pieces.
Step 2: Mark the shoes.
The ribbons will be sewn to both sides of each shoe.
To mark the shoes, fold the heel inwards so that the back of the shoes meets the inside sole to form a triangle. Then, you can mark the two sides of the triangle where the fold is, which will be where the ribbons will be sewn.
Step 3: Pin the ribbons in place.
Using sewing pins or safety pins, pin the ribbons to the inside of the cotton lining, where you have marked the shoes. Make sure that the end of the ribbon reaches the inside sole, so that there’s enough ribbon to sew.
Once you’ve pinned the ribbons in place, you can try the shoe on (make sure not to poke yourself) to see if the position of the ribbons is comfortable enough for you. You can adjust the ribbon to find the best place for it.
You can also angle the ribbon slightly towards the toes of the shoes to make the ribbons easier to tie and more secure.
Step 4: Sew the ribbons to the lining.
Once you are happy with the placements of the ribbons, it’s time to start sewing. The best way to sew ribbons to pointe shoes is using a back stitch to sew the ribbons to the cotton lining inside the shoes.
When sewing, it’s important that you don’t carry the needles all the way to the other side of the cotton lining because the stitches will then show up on the outside of the shoes.
Sew all the way around the part of the ribbon that’s inside the shoe to make a square, but make sure not to sew on the binding part because it may damage the binding when you pull the ribbons.
Secure the stitches with a knot, and repeat this step with the other three ribbons you have pinned.
Step 5: Trim the ribbons.
After you are done sewing, it’s time to try on the shoes. Wrap the ribbons around your foot and your ankle twice and make a double knot and check the length of the ribbon. If the ribbons are too long and dangly, you can trim them to get the exact length that fits your ankles.
Step 6: Serge the edges of the ribbon.
The cut edges of the ribbon may fray after some use. To prevent fraying, there are several methods that you can use to seal off the cut edges:
- Use a blanket stitch to sew around the cut edges of the ribbon,
- Use clear glue or clear nail polish over the edges to seal it off,
- Use a lighter and gently burn the edges of the ribbon to seal it, but make sure not to keep the lighter in one place for too long, or it may burn too much off your ribbon.
How To Sew Elastic On Pointe Shoes
Even with the ribbons, pointe shoes may still feel a bit loose, especially if you have narrow feet. If this is the case, you can sew an additional piece of elastic to help the shoes hug your ankles and make them feel more secure.
To sew elastic on pointe shoes, you will need:
- A piece of ballet shoe elastic
- A needle and cotton thread that matches the color of your shoes
- Fabric markers or tailor’s chalk
- Sewing pins
Here is the step-by-step:
Step 1: Measure the elastic.
Pin one end of the elastic to the inside of the shoes where you want the elastic to be.
Put on your pointe shoes and stand up so that your ankles are in the most comfortable position, be careful not to poke yourself with the sewing pin.
Carry the elastic to the other side of your ankle and gently tuck it, so it stretches out a bit, but not too much that it will distort the shoes or feel uncomfortable around your ankles (you don’t want it too tight).
Using a fabric marker, mark the length of the elastic that fits your ankle, leaving about half an inch for sewing. Then, cut the elastic to the desired length. Repeat this step with the other shoe.
Step 2: Sew the elastic.
Start with the side of the elastic that’s already pinned to your shoe.
Using a back stitch, sew the elastic to the cotton lining inside the shoe, making sure that the stitches are not poking through to the other side of the shoe.
You should also avoid sewing on the binding of the shoes so that the elastic does not pull on the binding when you wear the shoes.
Sew all the way around the piece of the elastic that overlaps with the cotton lining of the shoes. Then, repeat this step with the other end of the elastic and with the other shoe.
Once you are done, you can try on the shoes to make sure that the elastic fits comfortably and adjust the position if needed.
Other Ways To Customize Pointe Shoes
The key to the perfect point is to have a pair of pointe shoes that fit perfectly with your feet. No one’s foot is the same, so how you customize your shoes is definitely a matter of personal preference.
If you have sewn ribbons and elastics to your shoes, but the fit still feels a bit loose, there are more ways that you can customize the fit even further.
For example, you can get toe caps to make the shoes fit snuggly around your toes and even prevent blisters on your toes. Toe tubes are also useful to help separate your toes and distribute your weight evenly when you dance.
You can also use a rosin spray on the sole of the shoes to increase the friction between the shoes and the floor, which will reduce the effort needed to grip the floor and help prevent blisters.
With these simple steps, you can customize your pointe shoes to make them fit perfectly, which will greatly improve your pointe.
Since pointe shoes do not have a designated left foot and right foot design, some dancers also mark their shoes to make sure that each shoe is perfectly customized to the right foot.
However, ballet dancing is a test of endurance for both you and your pointe shoes. If you find that the elastic and the ribbons have become stretched out after a while, you can remove the stitches with a seam ripper and replace them with fresh ribbons and elastics.
This is the best way to customize the fit of your pointe shoes without having to buy a whole new pair.