By Reply to: Becky Dimock Changed by A.B. : Samantha Bellerose , B Ed, Dip Performing Arts; Dance

I'll never forget the day my eldest daughter brought home her first pair of pointe shoes with the instructions to "sew on the ribbons and elastic." It baffled us, and we couldn't figure it out. Where are they fastened? Can you sew without a machine? Just how long should each ribbon be?  

Dental floss is stronger than regular cotton and, because it is coated, is less likely to knot or catch when sewing; this makes it ideal for sewing elastics and ribbons onto pointe shoes.

Ballet dancers use elastics to prevent their pointe shoes from falling off their heels. Dancing en pointe requires a great deal of foot and ankle support, which is provided by the ribbons.  

Make sure the ribbons and elastic are securely attached if you don't want your dancer to injure themselves.  

Although both of my daughters have been dancing en pointe for several years and are capable of attaching their own ribbons and elastics, I still occasionally check their pointe shoes and add another layer of stitching if necessary. This is the technique we employ in lecture:


  • Ballet Flats
  • Scissors
  • Flicking on the lighter and/or checking for frayed edges
  • Elastic for pointe shoes (about 7 inches by two for each foot; do not cut it yet).
  • Ribbon for pointe shoes (approximately 22 inches in length, two feet worth).
  • A strong thread, such as that used for dental floss
  • A sturdy, sharp needle When using a needle that is too thin, it can easily become curved.

There used to be a time when finishing shoes for shows and tests required sewing ribbons and elastics inside.

This tutorial will show you how to complete the task rapidly, as the name implies.

Ribbons and elastics are sewn onto the uppers of the shoes in these guidelines for ease of use and convenience during class. Since my daughters typically wear their pointe shoes barefoot (with toe pads, of course), I've found that placing the ribbons and elastics on the outside of the shoe is much more comfortable for their feet.

On the other hand, after reading my article, our Editor Samantha brought up the fact that many dance studios frown upon the practice of sewing ribbons onto the exterior of dance shoes, and that this is more of a habit that professional dancers have developed in order to efficiently prepare a large number of shoes for class or rehearsal. given that they go through a lot of them every week

If your dance studio or instructor would like the attachments concealed during class, you can use the same technique but sew the elastics and ribbons to the inside of the shoe, hiding not only the elastics but also the stitches. in the shoe's exterior This is what we instruct our students to do when they purchase their flat ballet shoes.

STEP 1 Figure out where and how long the elastics will go on your dancer.

My dancers have requested that we only sew one loop of elastic around the heel, so that is what we will do here. experts favor

The other option is to attach two elastics that are crossed at the back via sewing. If you're unfamiliar with the way elastics are sewn onto most pairs of flat ballet slippers, you can learn more about it in this article.  

The elastic is attached to the pointe shoe about half an inch from the seam at the back of the heel, and is placed around the ankle once. Use a pencil or a pin to make a note of this.

Your dancer's ankle length, the heel height of her shoes, and her own preferences will all affect this estimate. Some dancers like their elastics sewn right on top of the seam, while others like them spaced out a bit.

A dancer's feet and ankles should be supported by the flat sides of the elastics. Dancers' feet need to be held securely in their shoes without being painfully constricted.   

After taking your measurements, trim the elastic so that it extends half an inch past the stitching. My little girl's single loop measures about 7 inches. Each of the two elastics will be about 7 inches in length.  

STEP 2 Finalize the details

Using either Fray Stop or a lighter to stop the elastic from fraying

Fray check or fray stop can be used to finish the edges of cotton elastics and ribbons so that they won't melt in the dryer.

If the elastic is made of a synthetic material like nylon, you can simply run a flame over one end to melt it.

Step 3 Install the elastics by sewing them on.

Use a running stitch (also called an "up-down" stitch) to attach the elastics to the casing. Right now is the time to choose whether to sew the shoelaces on the inside or the outside. My daughters find that wearing them on the outside of the shoe prevents them from rubbing their feet, but this is a matter of preference and may not be permitted by your dance studio.

A half inch of excess elastic beyond the seam is ideal. The elastic could be yanked off if the stitches tore through the ends.   

Double-stitch along the marked line, and finish with a knot. After finishing your last stitch inside the shoe, pass the needle through a tiny section of the shoe's casing on the inside; do not pull the needle back out.   

Four images showing you how to thread a knot as explained in the text

The thread should be nearly withdrawn, but a tiny hole should be left.   

Just insert the needle and pull it through. If you want to be extra safe, tie another knot over the first.

STEP 4 Replace the second shoe and the second attachment.

At this point, you can sew the second attachment of the elastic. One must be careful not to twist the elastic and instead ensure that it rests flat against the ankle.

When you've finished with this shoe, move on to the other shoe. (Can you see why some people would rather do this on the exterior of the shoe?) )

STEP 5 Find out where to tie the bows

You can't have pointe shoes without the ribbons for your dancer. Her ankles are supported, and she is prevented from going outside the boundaries of her box. Thus, it is crucial that you have them sewn on properly. The dancer's arch needs to be measured before she puts on the shoe. The ribbons should be stitched there.

Get her to put on a shoe, and then observe the same spot. That's where you'll secure the ribbons. If you're having trouble determining where to tie the shoelaces, have her hold the ribbon on her foot in the correct place, and then tie the shoelaces while the ribbon is still on her foot. In that spot on the pointe shoe, make a pencil mark.  

Step 5 Stitch on the bows

Attach the ribbons to the pointe shoes using the same method you used for the elastics.

When tying these, however, the ribbon must be angled toward the ankle rather than lying flat. There is a range of 45 degrees to 90 degrees that will work well depending on the shape of your dancer's foot.

The second ribbon will travel in the exact opposite direction, at right angles to the first.  

STEP 6 Dancing in Pointe Shoes

Now you can stop worrying about the stitching. The ribbons must be trimmed to size and the ends melted to prevent fraying.

First, you tie the ribbons around your dancer's ankles like you would for her flat ballet shoes. Next, you trim the ribbons so that you have just enough left to tie and tuck them away.

This final step is covered in detail, along with photos and a video, in our tutorial on sewing flat ballet shoes.

Put on Your Pointe Shoes, It's Time for Ballet Class!

Sewing the ribbons on the outside of the shoe is sometimes preferred because it requires less concentration than sewing through the layers of fabric and glue of the shoe slipper, but the entire process can be time consuming as you can see. which is what you aim for when sewing them from the inside

This is because the goal of sewing them inside the shoe is to keep the shoe's outer surface looking flawless by hiding the stitching and attachments. To become proficient at this, you need to put in some time and effort.

In addition, here are some of my suggestions for attaching elastics and ribbons to pointe shoes:

Use a needle threader if you're struggling to thread a thick thread or dental floss through your needle. It's the one and only time I've ever used one, but it performed flawlessly.

2 Ribbon and elastic can be purchased on rolls, as shown in the Materials photo. One day, you'll be able to thank me for this decision After years of tying ribbons and elastic onto my daughters' pointe shoes, I still have quite a bit left over, so you may want to split a roll with a friend.

Third, ribbons from dead pointe shoes can usually be reused multiple times. The elastics lose their elasticity and support after repeated uses, so I wouldn't recommend doing that.

4. Despite their feminine appearance, sewing through delicate shoes can be a challenge. Use a thimble if you have trouble threading the needle. When I neglected to use a thimble, needles punctured my fingernail.  

The fifth tip is to make sure your dancer always has a needle, thread (or floss), thimble, and small scissors in her dance bag in case she needs to make any last-minute repairs.

Linked Articles You May Find Interesting

Title Image: How to Measure, Fit & Buy Ballet Shoes for Toddlers & Kids The Complete Guide
How to sew elastics on to flat ballet shoes- Criss cross or single elastics. Today many dance shoes come with elastics pre-attached so which should you choose? Single or Criss cross elastics. Choosing which ankle straps to use for your child, kids, toddlers or teens ballet slippers is important and we outline the benefits of both and have photos and instructions on how to sew the elastics onto flat ballet shoes and slippers.
How to Sew Ribbons on Flat Ballet Shoes - Photos & Video Tutorial
Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Shoes For Dance Lessons!
Parents Guide to choosing the Best Shoes For Ballet Class
What are Demi Pointe Shoes and do you really need them for Ballet?
Everything You Need to Know About Buying Pointe Shoes for Ballet!
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A Short & Interesting History on How the ballet shoe was invented!
Ultimate Guide - what shoes should you wear for contemporary or lyrical dance?
What Types of Shoes Are Best for Hip Hop Dancing?
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How To Choose the Right Dance Shoes For Jazz Class!
How to Tie Stretch Elastic Ribbons on Ballet Pointe Shoes
Featured Image for Socks or Tights in Ballet Shoes? Teacher Advice for Parents!
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