How to sew ribbons & elastic onto pointe shoes

Updated April 17, 2017

Ribbons and elastic are the final touch to any ballerina's pair of pointe shoes. When you purchase new pointe shoes --- after you slightly break them in and dry them out --- sew ribbons and elastic onto the shoes. The elastic offers support; the ribbons help to keep the ankle taut, and they also look delicate and beautiful. Once you have sewn the ribbons and elastic onto your pointe shoes, you'll be ready to dance.

Fold the back of the shoe inward toward the sole to determine where to place the ribbon. The ribbon will sit on the inside of the creases that are formed when you create this fold. Make a mark with a pencil on each side of the interior of the pointe shoe. This helps you remember where to put the ribbon.

Cut four 12-inch pieces of ribbon. You will use two pieces of ribbon per pointe shoe. Holding one of the four pieces, fold the tip of the ribbon over approximately 1 inch to create a sort of hem so that the edges will not fray. You do not need to sew this hem; just press the folded ribbon directly into the shoe before you begin to sew.

Place one piece of ribbon on the interior of the pointe shoe, where you have made the pencil marks. The folded "hem" should be the end of the ribbon that is placed in the shoe.

Sew along the top of the casing of the pointe shoe by hand. Use small, tight stitches so that the ribbon does not pull away from the shoe. Knot it off and cut the excess thread with the scissors.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 on the other side of the interior of the pointe shoe.

Repeat the process with the other pointe shoe.

Cut two pieces of elastic that are at least 4 inches in length.

Line up one edge of one piece of the elastic with the heel seam of one pointe shoe. When looking at the point shoe from the back, the elastic should be directly to the side of the heel seam.

Repeat Step 2 on the other side of the heel seam, using the other edge of the piece of elastic. Make marks with your pencil to help remember where the elastic should go.

Use a similar tight, small stitch to sew one side of the elastic as you did with the ribbons. It may help to turn the shoe inside out. Knot it off and cut the excess thread with the scissors.

Turn the shoe right side out. Try on the pointe shoe and pull the elastic over to see how tight you need it to be across the bridge of your foot. Make a mark on the elastic for where you want it to be sewn onto the shoe. Repeat the sewing process on this side of the interior of the pointe shoe, and then repeat the entire process for the second pointe shoe.

Things You'll Need

  • Pointe shoes
  • Ribbon
  • Elastic
  • Pencil
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Kathryn Stanley is a professional writer for various websites, covering fashion, science, the environment, food and baking, crafts and the arts. She studies psychology and creative writing at the University of Maryland at College Park.