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Sewing Elastics and Ribbons

After you have received the approval from Ballet Virginia for your shoe fitting, you will need to sew on your elastics and ribbons. A stitch kit of some sort, be it pre-packaged or homemade, is a must have for every dancer’s bag. For example, a pre-packaged “Stitch Kit” from Bunheads may be purchased that contains 75 yards of super strong, bonded nylon professional pink thread, two large eye needles, and detailed sewing instructions for first time pointe shoe sewers. You can also make a stitch kit at home with a zippered pouch, bonded nylon pink thread or white waxed dental floss, large sewing needle, and small pair of scissors. Dental floss is a strong substitute for bonded nylon professional pink thread.

If you have a younger dancer, an adult should do the sewing. Show your dancer how you sew. As dancers get older, they need to learn how to sew their own shoes.


We recommend ¾” elastics for your first pair. The elastic can be sewn on either the inside or outside of the shoe depending on comfort and teacher preference. They should be sewn a centimeter away from the back-seam and should be angled slightly away from the seam. It is beneficial to sew one side first and carefully measure the length required to hold the heel of the shoe firmly to the foot without too much tension. Be careful not to sew through the draw string encased at the hem that is used to tighten the shoe. If the dancer has a deep arch, it may be necessary to criss-cross two elastic ribbons to ensure the arch does not come out of the shoe. Your teacher will let you know if this is needed when checking your shoes.


Pointe shoe ribbons are sewn on either side of the shoe behind the side seams, but placement can vary based on the dancer’s preferred support and comfort. Use this step-by- step guide and graphics below (how-to demonstrations can also be found on YouTube videos):

  1. Cut the ribbon into four equal lengths.
  2. Take the heel strap of the shoe and pull it all the way forward to meet the insole.
  3. Make pencil marks inside the folds.
  4. Before you sew the ribbon, double-fold one end.
  5. Sew the folded end inside the shoe onto the cotton lining on the mark you made in Step 3. Be careful not to sew onto the drawstring encased at the hem. See graphic below for proper stich type (combination of straight and whip stiches) to ensure the ribbon is reinforced.
  6. To keep the other end of the ribbon from fraying that will be tied around the ankle, take a match or lighter and place the flame close to the ribbon edge to melt it slightly.







Graphic and Photo Credits: 1); 2); 3)

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