Preparing My Pointe Shoes

Today I bring to you a great topic – pointe shoes!  This is well-discussed topic that I feel should be hit on every blog, including this one.  So, here’s how I prepare and sew my shoes, along with a few tips along the way.


Sewing

The first thing that I do is sew.  There are many ways to sew your shoes, and I’ve listed the main ways below:

  • square + loops (Sew the ribbon/elastic on with a box of stitches, but for the top section do the in/out loop technique around the seem.)
  • loops (Do the in/out technique to form loops around the seem.)
  • square (Sew the ribbon/elastic on with a box of stitches.

I use the square + loops technique because I find that it holds the best and it supports my foot and the ribbon/elastic very well.  It also looks decently clean from the outside while still being very secure.

Here’s a snapshot of how I sew my shoes:

pointeshoes1
This is the outside view. As you can see, it’s still supportive while being clean.
pointeshoes2
This is the way I sew on my elastics. I definitely prefer a criss-cross pattern because it supports my foot more. It also makes my arch look nicer.
pointeshoes3
This is the inside-view. I sew my stitches in a square pattern, only going through the inside layer of satin, and then finish off with the in/out loop method for the top row.

Here are the steps to sewing the shoes using the square + loop method:

  1. Cut your ribbons/elastics.  Elastics usually come in one long string or two sections.  Either way, you will want 4 sections.  Ribbons almost always come in one – just cut it out into 4 sections.  From here, I like to measure it up my leg to see where I should cut it, but this can also be done afterwards.
  2. Thread your needle.  I use the thick Bunheads thread that comes in the Stitch Kit, but dental floss also works.  I use about 2 forearm’s lengths of thread and then put my needle around.  Then I tie the two ends together in a double knot.
  3. Place your ribbon/elastic.  I like to put this on first.  If you are doing a criss-cross elastic, make sure that you fold the ribbon over the elastic before putting it on.  The long end of the ribbon goes on the outside of your foot so that your elastic is hidden nicely.  Your ribbon/elastic should be placed right about on the seem of your shoe towards the middle of the side wings.  I prefer to sew it slightly angled backward toward your heel so that there are no odd bumps when you are on flat.
  4. Sew it on!  Go in to only the 1st layer of satin on the inside of your shoe with the needle.  Slide it through between the layers, and then poke it upwards and back through the 1st layer of satin as well as the ribbon/elastic.  Then pull your needle all the way through.  Repeat in loop stitches going down the side of the ribbon/elastic, across the bottom, and then up the side again.  Finally, for the loop stitches going across the top, start on the inside of the shoe.  Push the needle through right below the seem, and pull it all the way through.  Now, from the outside, push the needle in to the shoe right above the seem.  Pull all the way through.  Repeat this until you’ve covered the entire top.
  5. Tie it off.  Repeat what you did at the beginning for one more step, but only this time pushing your needle through both layers of satin, not just one.  Don’t pull it through all the way though, put the needle back through the loop and then tighten.  Repeat two more times.
  6. Do the other side!  Repeat on the other side with your ribbon/elastic.  Again, for this side, you’ll be using an entirely different ribbon/elastic, not connecting them yet.
  7. Connect the elastics.  Now you have two stray elastic ends.  It’s time to connect them!  I draw the end of one elastic across the shoe diagonally towards the heel.  Now, place it on the inside of the shoe, about 1 inch from the back seem.  Sew it on!
  8. Repeat the other side.  Attach the other elastic by crossing it on top of the first one.  Each elastic should go on the opposite side as it’s 1st connection.  They should go across the shoe diagonally.
  9. Don’t forget the other shoe.  Haha, you have some work to do!

Darning

I prefer to darn my shoes so that I can find my balance and foot placement better.  Here’s a picture:

pointeshoes4
This is the tip (platform) of my shoe darned. I go around 3/4 of the circle, leaving the back part open.

Here’s a great video on how to darn your shoes:

Breaking in

Here’s what I do to break in my shoes:

  1. Put 1/8 teaspoon of water on the big toe bunion area, rub it in, and then whack it with a hammer.
  2. Step on the box with my heel.
  3. Bend the shank both ways a couple times.
  4. Put them on with socks over them and then jump up and down in plié with my feet on demi pointe.

3/4 shanking

I 1/2 3/4 shank my shoes, if that makes any sense.  In total, I 3/8 shank my shoes.  I take only the bottom layer of the shank and use heavy duty pliers to cut it down to where the seem is on your shoe (where I sewed my ribbon/elastic.)


Thanks so much for reading today’s article.  See ya later!

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