Sewing the ribbons

I sewed ribbons on my pointe shoes today.
Can I repeat that?
Me. I sewed ribbons. Ribbons! On my pointe shoes. That I own! And are mine! I sewed ribbons on my pointe shoes today, WTF?!
I mean, ballerinas do that. And today I did that. Dude. Woah.
Ok, so why did I wait until day of?
Because:
Well, here’s why:
Responses to my pointe shoes ran from, ‘yay!’ to ‘I wear those too,’ to ‘that is a totally inappropriate shoe for a beginner you will regret it ps you are a big dummy’.
Ok, not exactly.
But anyway, after my initial, ‘oh yeah?! Well your Face is totally inappropriate!’, I decided that the Adult Beginner needed to be an adult and not be offended and not get all protective of her pretty pretty shoes and just take in all the advice.
After all, almost everyone knows more about this than I do.
One bit of advice was to have my teacher approve the shoes before sewing any ribbons, because maybe he would refuse to let me wear them and say that his assistant had done a terrible job helping me chose them and at that point I’d be unable to return them.
So, I took my shoes, still in plastic, to ballet class. Smirnoff asked, “did you bring them? Good! I will see them after class.”
So after class I held them out, hoping hoping hoping he would not shout at me to return them immediately.
He looked at them and said, “what’s this? You haven’t even sewn the ribbons on yet? Well there’s nothing here for me to see! Show them to me when you’ve sewn them.”
Oh! Ok.
So here are a few pictures of the sewing process.
Really hope it’s correct.
Have a little sewing kit in my bag just in case.
One thing he and lé assistant had me do that I haven’t seen anywhere else is the elastic loop at the back, which anchors way way down by the sole, and forms a channel for the ribbons to pass through. Not for my ankle to pass through, believe me, I asked.

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff, DIY, OMG outfits you guys! and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sewing the ribbons

  1. odile says:

    C’mon. I hope I wasn’t too harsh in my reply to you!

    I do want to comment about the elastic loop: This is something that used to be done frequently. The elastic loop at the back of the heel has been implicated in Achilles tendinitis by a couple of podiatry studies, so most teachers aren’t recommending it nowadays. That’s a really old-school trick to keeping your ribbons straight, something that was done in the 1970s. If you get the ribbons located and angled properly, it isn’t necessary, either. To see what I mean, try the ribbons without running them through the loops.

    Don’t get upset about that, though. You’re not going to get tendinitis in the amount of dance time one pair of shoes is going to give you.

    When you put them on, first put the inside ribbon across the top of your ankle, wrap it around your leg, and leave a tiny bit of room. Then wrap the outside ribbon around and slide it underneath the inside ribbon. That will help keep your ribbons straight. Tie the knot so it lies in the space between your ankle bone and your achilles tendon on the inside of your leg. Fold excess and tuck the knot neatly underneath your ribbons for a smooth and professional look. Do not tie the ribbons too tightly, and keep that knot off your achilles tendon. You want to avoid friction or pressure on that tendon.

    There. Wasn’t that easy?

    You really did a beautiful job hand-sewing them.

    • No! You weren’t that harsh. But I was that immature!
      It’s a gift.
      For reals though, thank you for the interesting and helpful responses.
      It was harder to tie the ribbons, keep them flat, and keep the ends neat than I thought it would be!
      Funny about the elastic loop- looks like all the girls in the class have the loop on their first pair but by their second pair have abandoned that method for an around the ankle elastic.

      • Please do listen to Odile. I saw your post today from my iPhone and didn’t have time to comment, but as soon as I got home I whipped out the laptop to comment about that Achilles loop! :)

        Also, you were not wrong to take your first pair to your teacher unsewn, because while he may want to inspect your sewing, most teachers want to inspect the shoe as it compares to your foot shape, height, arch and size in order to be sure that you have not been fitted improperly. Once they are sewn, you can’t return them if your teacher says they are wrong for you. Sounds like you had excellent, excellent fitters and if Smir knew that he must have felt it unnecessary to check the selection. We have some undereducated fitters in my area – you are very lucky.

        Once again – so happy for you! And I am envious of your tidy stiches :)

  2. Janet says:

    Now that you have the ribbons on your pretty pointe shoes, have you had your first class yet? I am looking forward to hearing all about it. Love your blog; it makes me want to be an adult (almost Senior Citizen) beginner also. But, I fear that my chubby body would be laughed out of the studio.
    By the way, I think that Mr. Adult Beginner should also start a Tutu supplies fund, in addition to the Pointe shoe fund. After all you have made a Tutu before.
    Have fun dancing. I am looking forward to all of your new adventures.

    • Thank you!
      And just want to throw in: it’s often times the ballet students without classical ballet bodies that I’m impressed with in class. Love seeing a long slim graceful line, but likewise love seeing someone be brave.

    • Black Swan says:

      Janet, I have been the chubbiest person in every one of the eight or nine classes I’ve had so far and am always having way too much fun to care. All of those classes, with the exception of the “mixed” class White Swan & I took in which we were the only adults, have also had women in their 50’s and 60’s. If you want to do it, do it!

  3. Margaret says:

    Awww that looks lovely! When I sewed the elastics on my soft ballet shoes, wasn’t aware you weren’t meant to sew through the leather and not being a particularly skilled sewer, it looks pretty atrocious!

    Way to get your ballerina on! How did the pointe class go?!

  4. Margaret says:

    And @Janet. You should go for it! Everyone’s more worried about their own lumpy, bumpy and wobbly bits that they haven’t got time to worry about yours. There’s a woman in the class before mine, must be mid to late 50s, who works the full leo look and gorgeous shoes with ribbons tied on. And she is my hero.

  5. Kylara7 says:

    Re: “Well your Face is inappropriate” (love it, BTW)…the very best part of being an adult beginner is the ADULT part. Which means you get to do whatever the hell you decide is right for you and other people can chime in, but you don’t have to do what they say :) Nice job on the elastics and sewing…you are much more skilled with a needle than I am!

    Going back to the marathon analogy, there were (and still are) a whole lot of “serious runners” who have their noses out of joint and panties in a twist because of the explosion in “amateur marathoners” or regular former couch potatoes who set about to train for and complete a marathon (ala Oprah and contestants from The Biggest Loser). Yeah, they take 4-6 hours to finish, they take walk breaks, they don’t fit the conventional runner picture, and yeah, some get injured…but you know what? A lot of them fall in love with running and exercise, get in better shape, experience the euphoria of working toward a difficult goal (and dealing with the obstacles and setbacks and individual weaknesses and strengths) and they are better for it. I think it’s awesome and I am so excited to see that MORE people are getting active and challenging themselves. I think it’s the same with ballet, specifically adult ballet…there are “serious dancers” who really don’t like the idea of normal people giving ballet (and pointe) a go. They are entitled to their opinion and free speech, but in the end, we all get to decide and it’s not up for a vote. I adore your blog and can’t wait to hear more :)

    • Oh no, do you think maybe the problem is that everyone is a big hipster about everything? Like, “oh, you are into ThingX now? Yeah, I knew about ThingX before it was cool.”
      Hee hee!
      Ok that’s probably not exactly it but it’s fun to think about. (paper or plastic? Oh, I was into paper before it was cool)
      Sometimes indulging in a good, “well your Face!” can laugh me out of stubborn mode and into listen mode. It’s a handy tool.

  6. Sarah Dani says:

    You have such beautiful stitches! I know when I sew my pointe ribbons they look atrocious! And my teacher had me put really thin cord like elastic on the back of my shoes, but that’s because I have weird heels that make my shoes slip. Anyways… so happy you’ve sewn them on!!!

    • Thanks!
      Funny thing is, I almost didn’t post the picture of the ribbons being sewn, as the stitches aren’t Absolutely perfect, but they should be absolutely perfect considering that I have a degree in that stuff.
      Well, not in hand sewing specifically. Although it is sometimes part of my job.
      But anyway it turns out I need to reset the ribbons anyway, they are too far forward, so I have Another Chance At Perfection!!!

  7. Yanny says:

    this is pure magic.

  8. o'fla says:

    Hey, I am so happy for you to be starting on pointe! Good for you for working so hard and getting so far!

    As you asked about the heel-elastic and where to sew it, I would not use that loop at all, as it is just in a place where it does rub on the achilles tendon, which can cause inflamation. But, as was mentioned above, don’t worry for now – you are not doing enough in the shoes to cause serious problems yet. :)
    What you can do the next time is to sew an elastic which goes around and over the front of the ankle, but do not have it come together in one place at the achilles; rather, place the ends about 2-3cm either side of it, sewn on the outside of the shoe (your thoughts were correct there), to minimise rubbing and blister/bursitis-problems.

    Hope that was not too long. :o

  9. Jess says:

    Wow, your shoes look great. I’ve never seen stitches that pretty on a shoe that wasn’t sewn by someone’s mom. If these stitches last for you and your teacher approves of them, ignore this, but: remember that your stitches are going to take a lot of strain, especially as you get more comfortable and push over your arch even more. If you find yourself resewing, remember that nobody’s going to see your sewing, its job is to be strong, looking pretty is YOUR job. :) I expect you won’t have a problem with it, and this comment is superfluous, but just in case, it’s there.

  10. Pingback: O hai pointe shoes | Adult Beginner

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