There is nothing magical about tooth floss.

I get why people use dental floss to sew their ballet slippers:
It’s convenient.
It’s already in your home.
You can toss it in your dance bag and it always stays clean thanks to the plastic case, plus the case has a little thread cutter built in so you don’t have to carry scissors.
But it’s not magical, people!
You want strength?
Polyester thread! It’s really strong!
Double it! Quadruple it! It’s even stronger!
Tooth floss is manufactured to be used once and thrown away, do you really want that holding your shoes together?
You want waxed thread?
You can buy that!
Silamide! Intrinsic thread! Hymark! Button-twist!
You can also make any thread into waxed thread by oh, I don’t know-
waxing it!
Run it across a frikin candle!
And that way it’s not cinnamon or mint flavored!
I mean, ok, like I said, I get the convenience factor of floss.
If I see you using it, I’m not gonna get all judgey, in fact I’ll be impressed that you are sewing at all. I still haven’t sewn my new shoes.
But the message here is floss not magic, so if a website or teacher tells you specifically to use tooth floss Instead Of polyester thread, like not as a matter of convenience but as if floss has some kinda special balletical powers or something, just think of your old pal Adult Beginner ranting all crazy-like about floss and then do whatever you decide to do.


About adultbeginner

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

18 Responses to There is nothing magical about tooth floss.

  1. Amen to that! I’ve always thought dental floss sounded like a poor choice, personally, and I’ve never used it on my shoes.

  2. roriroars says:

    Ha! I sewed with dental floss once and thought it was such a PITA I vowed never again. I did buy the Bunheads stitch kit which has all the things I like about floss (the waxed thread and the handy self-cutting thing), but it’s actual, you know… thread!

  3. Blondie says:

    It never occurred to me to use floss. Or waxed thread, for that matter. I’ve just always used regular sewing thread? Maybe people that really want to use the convenient container and cutter-thingy could just fill an empty floss container WITH real sewing thread? Hmmmmm

  4. erinkelly17 says:

    My experience at intensives has been that some people think the floss is stronger…but I have to say, I do prefer the thread myself. The way I see it is that the convenience of floss is really not all THAT different. Both options are pretty small, so why not just use thread? Matter of opinion, I suppose…

  5. Reece says:

    These days, the dental floss that’s all the rage is very slippery so it can get into all the tight spots without getting stuck or shredding. Have you tried to tie a knot in that stuff? I have — it might as well be Teflon. There’s no way I’d use that stuff to sew anything I wanted to stay sewed. And the latest floss samples my dentist gave me is stretchy, like a really thin rubber band, but not as strong as the old stuff. Again, not suitable for sewing.

    I think the mythology about dental floss instead of thread comes from the same place conspiracy theories come from: the need to believe that you’ve found out something secret that sets you apart from the rest. Like the claim that coloring the edges of a CD with a green Sharpie pen makes it sound better (it doesn’t). Or alien-origin crop circles. Or “chemtrails”.

    For sewing elastic into slippers I just use the cheap thread that comes in the 12-color pack I bought in the grocery store. It came with three needles and a needle threader for a couple of bucks. After two years of 2-3 classes a week, the elastic is still firmly attached. Maybe you’d want something stronger for pointe shoe ribbons, I don’t know. But does dental floss come in Ballet Pink? :-)

  6. kaija24 says:

    Confession: I don’t floss, except for that one time a year I get a piece of sweet-corn-on-the-cob stuck in my teeth and then I just use a piece of thread. Yeah, I know you’re *SUPPOSED TO* and my dentist tells me that as part of his regular spiel (it’s kind of funny at this point: he feels the need to ask about it/advise and I feel the need to be honest but unmoved) but then I have never had a cavity in my whole entire life so I figure don’t fix it if ain’t broken…plus I have more pressing items I need to prioritize in the good habits category (I lucked out on my tooth enamel but not so much in other areas) so I shall remain a proud flossing heretic. Therefore, I am terribly pleased to hear that good old polyester thread (cheap and strong) beats dental floss for ballet sewing from an actual sewing expert…thank you AB! :)

  7. waffles says:

    I have to confess to using dental floss to sew my pointe shoes. I tried using regular thread and it just kept getting all knotted and caught in the satin (admittedly I am not a great sewer, I call myself Frankenstitch). I’d heard that some people used dental floss, and I already had that in my house, so I tried it, and I have to say I’ve never been disappointed. It holds strong, it doesn’t stretch, and it never gets knotted or stuck in the satin. And then your shoes smell like mint for awhile, which helps abate the sweaty foot odor. :) I haven’t tried polyester thread, though I did once try some kind of clear thread that the lady at the thread store said she uses for quilting and it was supposed to be really strong, it looks a little like fishing line (I can’t think of the brand or type off the top of my head), but it was even worse than the regular thread! My ribbons kept pulling away because the thread stretched, and one of my elastics popped off while I was dancing, and that was my first time wearing those shoes. Previously, I had sewn my Russians with dental floss and danced in them for 6 months, so I just decided to stick with that.

    • Oh man, monofilament?! I wouldn’t use that for quilting, let alone ballet slippers. Sheesh, sometimes those thread-store ladies should just not speak.

      • waffles says:

        Yeah, I thought about going back and asking for something else, but then I realized that that would be pretty pointless. I’ll have to try the polyester thread you mentioned sometime though, then maybe I won’t burn through my supply of floss so quickly. ^.~

  8. Thank goodness other people out there agree on this! I always recommend polyester and people love to respond with, “Well I heard floss is the best!” As if they are giving me a precious idea I’ve never heard of and shouldn’t I be delighted that they have heard of this nifty “dancer” thing? No. No I shouldn’t. Floss is for teeth. Thread is for sewing. That is all.

  9. koolchicken says:

    I know this is an old post but I thought I would mention this. Dental floss IS crazy strong. When I worked for CVS we used to use it to hang signs from the ceiling. Nowadays you’ll see them hanging from these clear plastic things. But there are still plenty of places that still use the floss trick. And those signs are super heavy, it usually takes two people to get the bigger ones up there. We used the cheap store brand stuff because it was strongest, go figure.

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