How to Sew Pointe Shoes

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The ribbons and elastic must be sewn onto pointe shoes after they are purchased, and finding the proper placement for each can be tricky. Find out how to properly sew pointe shoe ribbon and elastic with helpful instruction from a ballet and pointe teacher in this free video on ballet dance wear.

Part of the Video Series: Ballet Instruction
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Video Transcript

Hi my name is Mikael Monson and I'm a ballet instructor for Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio in Camas, Washington and I'm here to show you how to sew pointe shoes. When you purchase your pointe shoes they're going to come like this. They're not going to have ribbons on them and they're just going to be blank and empty so you're going to have to sew them yourself. Pointe shoes normally don't come with the ribbons automatically so you're going to have to purchase them with the pointe shoes and they're going to give you something like this and this. So here's the elastic and here's the ribbon. Before we start sewing you're going to want to get all your supplies ready. I have scissors here and I have some ribbon and my needle, I mean some thread, my ribbon, my elastic and my shoes. It's best to have the person that is going to be wearing the shoes present because they are going to need to be wearing them, make sure they measure well with the elastic and the ribbon so if you are sewing them for someone else make sure that they're near so you can test the lengths with their feet. So first we're going to start and just get your shoe and get your elastic because that is what we start with and your elastic is going to come like this. Very rarely will they come precut because every foot is different and you're all going to need different lengths and there are so many different ways to sew pointe shoes that they give you this so you can kind of customize it to your own foot. Now there are different ways to sew the elastic on. I am wearing my ballet shoe and my ballet shoe is a criss cross elastic. You can sew your pointe shoes like this. This is made for more support for your shoes. It is made to kind of hold your arch up on your pointe shoe and it is also made for like higher arches and more flexible feet and it is a lot more work so it just depends on what you are wanting to do. Today I am just going to sew the one elastic. So you're going to get your shoe and you're going to first measure how big you want your elastic so make sure you have a person near that wears the shoe. You're going to put it on like this, o'kay and you are going to get your elastic and you're going to measure where it is. Now the criss cross elastic usually starts about here and you go all the way over there. You want to make sure to pull it tight like it would feel on your foot so that would be about the length there and it's usually the same length on the other side. I'm not doing the criss cross elastic today I'm just doing the one elastic. This elastic is good. It is the basic. It holds your heel on which is the purpose of an elastic so I'm going to start it here and pull it all the way over to the other side. I'm going to measure with my thumb and again test it, it feels a little tight which is good, about right there so I am going to take my scissors and I'm going to cut the elastic like this. Now we're going to start to sew it now that we have measured the length. You are going to get your pointe shoe and you are going to bend it like this and you are going to get your elastic here and put it right in that crease, right there. Now make sure you know how far you put the elastic so I am not going to sew it all the way in like this and I'm not going to sew it like that. It has to be a fair distance inside so you can sew it and I am going to sew it at an angle so you'll have an angle like that. It's not like this and you want to put it in there to match that little crease I made. There is different ways to sew it. You can sew all the way around making a square here, that will secure your elastic so it doesn't fall off however, being a dancer and sewing pointe shoes every week I just like to do it as quick as possible so I do it this technique. I just sew along the top. You don't want to sew into this seam right here because this is where this tightens your shoe and you don't want to get that locked so you sew below it and like this and then you sew above it like this. There you go. You can also use, I have seen a lot of people use sewing machines and they just sew right there. You slide it into your sewing machine, sew a little line right there and do it again there and there. You don't need to do too many I mean do it about ten times all the way across. Then you're going to do the other side and you just again loop it over here and on that side you do the same thing on that side and there you have your elastic. Now for your ribbons, the ribbons are going to come like this. They usually come in pink, different color or shades of pinks and peaches. Mine are taped together and they look like this. Now these came separately so they came one for the left foot, one for the right foot. Sometimes they will just come in one long stream so you're going to want to fold it in half, cut it in half and one goes to the left foot, one will go to the right foot. Now with your ribbons there are so many ways to do this but I want to show you the best way. You are going to want to get your foot like this and measure the ribbons this way. You can make them even at the top and then that will secure that you'll have enough to put them around your ankle so you'll have them right here and you just kind of want to mark it with my finger where that was like the bottom of my foot and then take this over here. You want to sew your ribbons right on the outside of that seam right there so it goes right there and using the same technique you can do a square inside, you can use a sewing machine to stitch it across or you can use your thread again to thread here and through there like this and you just keep going and do several stitches like that and then that will be sewn. At the end when you have both of them sewn you can cut this in the middle but sometimes I like to leave it there just in case you're on stage and your ribbon comes unsewn that way your ribbons won't fall off, they will still be attached to your foot and that's how you sew a pointe shoe.

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