Sew elastics by machine: it’s faster

Sometimes it’s fun to settle in with a needle and thread and spend some time lovingly sewing elastics to ballet slippers.
And other times it’s nice to just sew the elastics by machine and get the damned things done already.
Here’s how to get the damned things done already:
First, un-box your new shoes

Ok so in this case there are two elastics, one end sewn on, one end just flyin’ free.
Put your feet in the shoes.
Wrap the elastics over your foot so they cross over each other, pin in place. Careful. Don’t stab yourself. Point, flex, walk around, make sure they feel good, not too tight. Mine felt best a little forward of the seam.

Make a mark on the elastic where the casing meets the shoe.

Now, go look at your sewing machine. Is it threaded in an appropriate color? If not, change the color. Do not be trifling. It may be tempting to sew your pink shoes in whatever-the-hell color is already on the machine, but it’s Not Right and you know it.

Trim the excess elastic. I left 1/2″ seam allowance.

Gentle Reader, I’m going to liberate you right now to Throw Away the little left over elastic scraps. Seriously. They are too small. You can’t do anything with them. I do not want to see you on Hoarders.

Now, sew. Don’t sew through the casing, you might catch the cord elastic inside.


Almost done!
Try them on, pull the cord elastic so it’s snug but not tight, tie in a square knot, trim and throw away excess cord elastic.
At this juncture, turn your shoe inside out. You have two choices here: hand sew the elastic inside, or tape them. I taped. I used that white, fabric-like medical tape. The kind I keep in the little bag with my pointe shoes. Ah pointe shoes. Sigh. How I miss you.

And that’s it.
Here’s the final result, including all the tools I used, minus the sewing machine, tape, and Bachelor Of Fine Arts in Costume Technology.

There ya go, twenty minutes well spent.

About adultbeginner

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

23 Responses to Sew elastics by machine: it’s faster

  1. Or liberate yourself from elastics altogether (if you are like me and hate the feeling of something restricting over the instep): choose slippers with a high vamp. Looks much sleeker on the foot without elastics. Leather molds better to the foot than canvas so less likely to slip off. The slipper style will depend on the shape and proportions of your foot but Capezio’s Juliet style works for me. After the torture of tight ribbons and heel elastic and gluing your feet into pointe shoes, soft slippers with no elastics are a welcome relief.

  2. Nic says:

    And if you don’t have a sewing machine? Put on your recording of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, make yourself a cup of tea, and sit under the reading light with a needle and thread:)

  3. Lola Schoen says:

    i think i definitely will finally have to improve my sewing machine skills. last time i’ve done that was in school, about 15 years ago. i often get really good ideas for making pretty ballet-clothes but i hate sewing by hand. so first step: get a sewing machine!
    i was really glad that i didn’t have to sew any elastics on my new pair of ballet slippers. i had a few problems with my achilles tendon, so i tried the bloch pro elastic because they have no drawstrings. i love them! the elastics come already sewn and they fit, but the best thing is that i feel much more confident on demi pointe, which is great for pirouettes. what a difference a shoe makes…

  4. Mattie says:

    They look lovely! I have the same shoes, and if you are like me, you may end up nestled in with a needle and thread after your first class after all. On mine, the sock liner is not secured all the way to the toe, so the fabric has a tendency to bunch up under your toes when tendu-ing, which was distracting and big tme annoying. It was easily fixed by a few stitches across the inside of the toe, though, and now I love them! Such a nice change from my stiff, full soled leather slippers!

  5. evan, yo! says:

    An even easier way to do it is to have your wife use her sewing machine to sew your ribbons on!

  6. Dear AB,

    thank you for the instructive post and photos! Sadly, I would need either my beloved and patient grandma (God rest her soul) or a Bachelor Of Fine Arts in Costume Technology. Somewhere in this house there is probably an old sewing machine, but unearthing it and figuring out the tech would take appoximately 20 hours. Not minutes. :)

    But I’m a simple girl. I grab the elastic, hold it at the right spot (just forward of the seam) and stick a threaded needle through. I have sewn so many pairs that I don’t need to measure the elastic’s length (inside the slipper the length goes from tip of pinky finger to second knuckle). I sew the first row right into the casing, making sure that the cord remains above. Then I sew one stitch down and another row just below the casing. That’s it. I don’t cut the extra elastic – when it’s longer it holds nicely down without rubbing your foot the wrong way.

    It takes me about 15 minutes flat, if there are no distractions. :)

    By the way, I noticed your new slippers are from Capezio.. The inner lining that is glued to the sole has a tendency to come off. You can either rip it out, or sew it put. Sometimes the farbric under your toes rolls, I use medical fabric tape to hold it down.

    Enjoy your new slippers! :)

    • guyenne says:

      You sound like me – I too would require that BFA in Costume Technology for the machine to be faster. I attempted to use my machine this weekend to sew some hems. 1.5 hours of frustration nearly ending in me throwing the machine at the wall – 3 seams done, with 2 having to be totally seam ripped and re-done. Next attempt – 1.5 hours of hand sewing resulting in 13 seams done and dramatically less frustration.

      I tried my pointe shoes once on the machine, and I doubt I will ever do so again (unless I go for that BFA).

    • Liking this skip-the-pin, go-straight-to-the-needle method!
      Think I might end up using your medical tape trick inside the big toe area too, these shoes fit so much better that I fear a big toe hole is just a matter of time.
      Would you believe this is only my second pair of slippers? And the first pair I didn’t even have to sew, they came all set!

  7. Nikki says:

    AND you own a vintage singer! I have a vintage Morse. Looks like an old chevy. I also have juki, sewing machine love.

    • candice says:

      Old sewing machines are the best! I have one of those black fifties singer knock-offs which is actually a decent machine. All it does is straight and reverse though; not even a zig-zag.

      One of my dance teachers always sews her slippers on the sewing machine; we got into a conversation about sewing machines one day from that. My grandmother has a (working) treadle machine with a zillion attachments, you see….

      • That’s awesome!
        My Mother In Law has a treadle machine too, likes it better than electric because it only goes when you pedal. Talking to her about machines is like listening while a hipster bike-nerd goes on and on about fixies.

    • Ooh, the Morse is sweet! Is yours a fun color?
      We use industrial jukis at work, they’re solid. Juki and Singer and…some other kinds. You’d think I’d know by now.
      Anyway: Truth Time: the vintage Singer belongs to Mr. Adult Beginner. He has several, he’s really good at finding them at yard sales, figuring out what’s wrong with them, and making them work again. He’s fearless!
      And the overlock is his too.
      Fearless I tell ya!
      I love them because they look cool and have all metal parts, no plastic bobbins like in my poor little Brother machine.

  8. How did you know I am hoarding little tiny pieces of pink elastic over here? Oh god. It’s a compulsion.

  9. BFA in Costume Technology sounds amazing!

  10. :O split soles!! It has always been a dream of mine to own split soles, but my mother never let me, and now I can afford new shoes, so I’m making do with old ones until they well and truly fall apart. Not that I don’t do exams I guess it doesnt matter so much that my shoes are tatty…

  11. Hey AB, you might be able to get a little more sparkly out of those arches if you move the elastic back to the height of your arch, looks like about an inch. Appears that the height of your arch may be right about where the heel sole starts. The elastic would pull that spot in tightly like a little corset for your footsie.

  12. Pingback: I Tried Silk Thread! – The Mermaid Seamstress

Leave a Reply to rheumaticprincess Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s