Thursday, August 8, 2013

How To Sew On Pointe Shoe Ribbons and Elastics.

Here is a guide to sewing on pointe shoe ribbons and elastics for our new batch of pre-pointe students. Congrats! This is a special next step in your dance training. One that you have earned.

The method for sewing on ribbons and elastics is basically the same for both pre-pointe or demi-pointe shoes and pointe shoes. So once you have the basics down for your pre-pointe shoes you can use them on pointe shoes.

As I've gone through a number of You Tube tutorials I am reminded that there are variations from studio to studio as to the proper way to sew on ribbons and elastics. But like lasagna recipes that have been passed down for generations, you know which is the best. Your family's recipe! I kid. Sort of. For the initial learning and grooming period for our students pre-pointe and pointe shoe education it is important that everyone follow a similar technique. As a dancer becomes more familiar with how they work in pointe shoes (we're talking years here), then variations can be employed.

Let's begin!

A few notes first.

Your finished product, from the outside of the shoes, should look something like this:

No visible stitches from the outside. You will find that there are two layers of fabric where ribbons and elastics are sewn. The satin outside layer and the muslin inside layer. Stitches are to go through the muslin inside layer. What about using a sewing machine? (Gasp! Sacrilege!). It is important to learn how to sew ribbons and elastics on by hand. I have seen tutorials that recommend using a sewing machine, but sewing machines will make the stitches visible on the outside. Just like underwear, stitches, strings and knots are best kept hidden.

Don't sew through the drawstring casing. The drawstring casing is around the opening of the shoe. Some tutorials show running a few stitches through the casing, While being careful not to go through the drawstring itself. Why bother? Just don't stitch through the casing at all. I danced for years on pointe and never once stitched through the casing.

Tools needed:

Pointe shoe ribbons (they may come with a particular brand of pointe shoe, or they maybe sold separately. Be sure to get them before you leave the store!).

                                                 image credit

Elastic. You should get it at the same time you get your ribbons and shoes.

Strong thread. Any strong thread will do. Make it pink.

Sewing needle and scissors.

A pencil for marking.

The dancer who will be wearing the shoes!

Optional; pins or safety pins.

Sewing on the elastics:

                                              image credit

1. Prepare your thread and needle.

2. Next, you will need to measure and cut your elastic. Take your long piece of elastic and cut it in half.

3. Then, take one elastic piece and one of the shoes. Take one end of the elastic piece and sew it to the back of the shoe's heel, on the inside. Be sure to stay to the side of the center seam, as shown in the above picture.

4. Next, put the shoe on and measure how much elastic you will need for the loop that goes over the top of dancer's ankle. It should be snug without being painfully tight. Mark or pin the amount of length you will need.

5. Now sew the other end of the elastic to the shoe (right side of picture is your finished product).

Sewing on the ribbons.

The ribbons will come as one long piece. Cut in half, then cut each piece in half again. You will have 4 pieces when you are done.

To reinforce the end you will be sewing to the shoe, I recommend this technique for folding the end;
 The ribbon has shiny side and a dull side.


With the dull side facing you, fold the end over about 3/4 to 1 inch.

Fold again.
 This is the tri-fold pocket that you will sew to the shoe. You want to make sure the shiny side of the ribbons are on the outside.
Now onto how to find the placement of the ribbon!

I really like this video tutorial.

Don't be dismayed if you find you need to redo your ribbons and elastics. You can do everything "perfect" but find that you need to do additional tweaking to make it work for YOU.

Happy sewing!

Please feel free to ask me any questions.

Coming soon- How to tie your pointe shoe ribbons!

Enjoy the dance that is life!

~Miss Erin.

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