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No-nonsense: ballet shoes 2

Read part 1 of our no-nonsense guide to ballet shoes here.


Elastics help keep your shoes on - and also ensure the shoe hugs the arch of the foot to give the best shape. (You can read about good feet here.) The elastic used is a thin, flat strip about 9mm wide or so. Some people prefer a slightly wider elastic.

Tommy Batchelor,
one of the American Billy Elliots:
double elastics on his shoes.

The main things to consider are colour, quantity and position.

- Colour
Elastics look best when they disappear into whatever you are wearing on your feet. Black elastic for black tights, white if you are wearing white socks &c. Sometimes you will see people wearing elastic which matches the shoe colour (see Tommy Batchelor above). For costumes you can dye white elastic to match the colour of tights.

Yohei Sasaki as Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty with Sarah Lamb:
his elastics are dyed blue so you cannot see them.

- Quantity
Some people use one strip of elastic going horizontally across the foot; others use two pieces which cross over the top of the foot. There is not much difference. Some people claim that two elastics make the shoe hug the foot better - but plenty of people use only one. Some brands (eg Sansha) come with two elastics pre-sewn. You then have to sew in the other ends.

A new ballet shoe with pre-sewn elastics.
Image from www.balletformen.com.
- Position
If you are using one elastic, fold the heel of the shoe forward into shoe and mark where the sides of the shoe crease. This is where to sew the two ends of the elastic.

If you have two pre-sewn elastics they should already be attached at the heel. Slip on the shoe and cross over the elastics. The elastic crossing over to your instep should be attached at the arch's highest point. The other elastic should be sewn at the same point on the other side.


NB The drawstring running around the top of the shoe should be drawn snug and tied off. Tie a double knot and trim the ends. Tuck everything inside the shoe. You may like to hold the ends in place with some masking tape. Some people tie a bow in the drawstring but this can be bulkier - and you probably won't ever need to adjust the drawstring so it is safe to tie a double knot.

Image from www.balletformen.com.

- We recommend you use double thread to ensure a durable stitch.
- Make sure the elastic is sewn on the inside of the shoe and is not twisted.
- Never sew through the piping which contains the drawstring.
- After attaching one end of the elastic, slip on the shoe to work out how tight to sew the other end. The fit should be just snug and not overstretched.

Any further questions? Leave a comment and we will add a response.

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