How do I Sew the Ribbons on Pointe Shoes?

Many girls have all kinds of elastic contraptions to hold the heel of the shoe on. However, this is not usually necessary.

Many of the issues with their shoe can be solved by simply adjusting their ribbons, or by choosing a slightly different shoe.

Make sure you use high quality ribbon. The cheaper ribbons do not have as much give and can ‘strangle’ the ankle a little en fondu! Some girls like to use ribbons that have a small piece of elastic in the part of the ribbon that crosses the Achilles tendon. This can be helpful if you have had problems with the Achilles, or with your ribbons cutting in. You do need to make sure that the elastic is at the back of the ankle though!
Placement of Ribbons – Having the ribbons pulling up at the right angle is very important in keeping the satin of the shoe snug around your heel.

  • Fold the back of the shoe in, where the back of your heel would sit.
  • Use the angle of the fold to guide where the ribbon will be placed.
  • Place the back edge of the ribbon along the fold (on the inside of the shoe) and pin in place (make sure the good side of the ribbon is facing out!)
  • Check the position by putting the shoe on (be careful of the pins!). Place the foot flat and then en pointe and test the position by pulling the ribbons to check that the satin is held flat.
  • Take the shoe off again and sew the ribbons on carefully, around all four sides of the end of the ribbon with tiny stitches.
  • Take care not to sew through the casing for the pull string as you will not be able to adjust the tension again! However, make sure you do a row of tiny stitches to hold the top if the casing against the ribbon to keep it in close to the foot.
  • Make sure you do not go all the way through the satin, but just catch a few threads of the canvas inside the shoe. You should not be able to see the stitches from the outside of the shoe.
  • Remember, this is a guide for attaching the ribbons when you first start pointe work. Each dancer has a certain angle they like to use so you can try slightly.

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