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How to Sew Pointe Shoes

While it may be tempting to ask mom or dad to help you sew your pointe shoes, part of the rite of passage of going 'en pointe' typically includes the responsibility of sewing your own shoes. It may not be perfect at first, but with practice, you will get better and better and will learn what works best for you and your foot. With more experience dancing 'en pointe', you will become more particular about ribbon placement with things like angle and location determining how effectively the ribbons keep the shoe on the foot, as well as the desired aesthetic. With your first pair, these guidelines will help get you on your way.

* Credit to The Shoe Room for the photos used 

 Determine Ribbon Placement - Fold the heel of each shoe down towards the toe. Take a pencil, and draw a line to mark the fold line on the inside of the shoe from the back seam forwards. This will provide a guideline which you will use to angle and sew your ribbons. Fold one inch of ribbon and place the folded end along the line you drew down towards the insole, pining it in place through the lining, not the outer satin. The whole ribbon should now be angled slightly forward from the heel.

 Sew the Ribbons - As mentioned above, the majority of pointe shoes have a cotton or canvas lining, separate to the outer satin covering. You want to sew the ribbons to the lining and not through the satin. Using a strong thread (we recommend Bunheads The Stitch Kit, string or even dental floss), use a whip stitch or running stitches if you prefer, in a square shape around the folded edge of the ribbon. Be careful not to sew through the drawstring that runs through the binding at the top.

Sew the Elastics - Elastics are not always necessary, so typically teachers ask new pointe students not to sew elastics until they take their first pointe class. Elastics are used to prevent the heel of the pointe shoe from slipping off the dancer's heel. Depending on comfort or teacher preference, elastics can be sewn on the inside or outside of the shoe. Elastics are usually placed a centimetre away from the back seam, and angled slightly away from the seam and are sewn in a similar manner to the ribbons. Make sure you pin the elastic in place on one side first (or sew if you prefer) and cross it over the ankle to determine the length of elastic needed. If the elastic is sewn too tightly, you can injure the soft tissue around the back of the ankle.  

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