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How to Sew a Ballet Shoe Elastic Strap(s)

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Gone are the days when all ballet shoes, from children’s to adult’s, came with the elastic straps unattached.  Now, most children’s ballet shoes come with the elastic already pre-sewn, and many adult ballet shoes have two pieces of elastic pre-sewn at the back of the shoe ready to complete in a criss-cross pattern.  However, since one size never fits all, and different ballet instructors have their own opinions on what they prefer, it is a good idea to know how to attach elastic straps to a ballet shoe in more than one manner.

Children’s ballet slipper – a single strap across the top of the foot.  While most pre-sewn elastic straps work just fine for a younger child’s foot, you could find that your child’s strap is too tight, too loose, too far forward (allowing the heel to slip out), or too far back (cutting into the ankle and/or top of the foot).  If you need to adjust or replace the elastic strap, use the following as a guide.

For a growing child (approx. ages 3 to 6), you want the strap to lay across the foot with only a small amount of stretch from the elastic, or, as long as the shoe stays on the foot, no stretch at all.  Fold the section of the shoe that covers the back of the foot down onto the inner sole and note the two outside points where the shoe is folded over.  This is the approximate correct placement for the straps to be attached.  Pin the strap (don’t cut anything yet!), slanting them slightly forward towards the toe of the shoe and try them on.  You can now adjust them for security and comfort.  Then follow the sewing instructions below.

Beginning Dancer to Adult ballet slipper – criss-cross pattern across the top of the foot.  This is the most popular method of attaching straps to ballet shoes for adults.  If the back of the elastic straps are already pre-sewn, just cross and pin them, then try them on.  The more advanced the dancer, the snugger and farther back towards the heel of the shoe the better to insure security and comfort.  Then follow the sewing instructions below.

Beginning Dancer to Adult ballet slipper – a single strap across the top of the foot.  Some instructors and dancers still prefer the single strap.  Here the tightness of the strap depends on the dancer’s age and experience.  The more advanced the dancer, the snugger and farther back towards the heel of the shoe the better to insure security and comfort.  Follow the folding of the shoe described above and pin the straps on to determine your own ideal placement.  Then follow the sewing instructions below.

Sewing is easy!  You need a needle and thread that matches the shoe color.  Sometimes it takes a little effort to get the needle through the shoe, so a thimble is helpful.  Thread the needle and knot the end.  You can either sew the elastic to the very top of the channel that holds the string that tightens the shoe or sew along the seam at the bottom of that channel.  Either way, it is important not to catch the string since that will stop it from being used to adjust the width of the shoe.  Unless you place the stiches very close together, you need to sew along the seam you have chosen at least once forward and once back to make sure the elastic is secure.  And there is nothing wrong with one or two more passes!  Pull on the elastic a few times to be sure they are going to hold.  Tie off the thread and then cut off any extra elastic.

 

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This article was written by pmccormack

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