How to fit soft ballet shoes and elastic

Choosing the right soft ballet shoes.

For both male and female dancers along with beginners choosing the right soft ballet shoe is important. This will help you develop a proper technique and help prevent injury to the foot. The fist thing to take into consideration is the material of the ballet shoe. Soft ballet shoes are available in leather canvas or satin. Satin is usually only used for shows or performances as they are not very durable and are difficult to clean. Leather is longer lasting and may cost slightly more where as a canvas ballet shoe allows the foot to arch better and gives you more feel for the floor. Most dance teachers will have a preference and you should first ask them which they prefer.

Pink Ballet Shoes

The next thing to consider with soft ballet shoes is whether you want a full sole or split sole ballet shoe. The full sole ballet shoe is recommended for the beginner as the full suede sole extends all the way down the base of the shoe giving extra support to the foot as it arches giving a more pointed foot. A split sole ballet shoe normally used by a more experienced dancer gives more flexibility and are easier to break in more quickly.

A proper fitting ballet shoe is not the same as fitting normal street shoes. The toes will always be at the end of the ballet shoe with any extra room being at the back of the shoe and down the sides of foot. It is important that the shoe fits like a glove as too much extra room will not show a proper arch and it is important for your dance teacher to see the shape of your foot while performing. It is equally important that the shoe is not too tight and whilst standing in your new ballet shoes, your toes must not be scrunched up at the end of the shoe and there must be no pain but must be snug. Both leather and canvas ballet shoes will stretch slightly and mould to the shape of your foot.

Fitting soft ballet shoes.

  1. Choose a leather or canvas ballet shoe with the sole you prefer or has been recommended to you.
  2. Step into the ballet shoe and point your toes or stand in first position. The shoe should feel snug but not tight and there should be no pain.
  3. Go down in sizes if the ballet shoe has lots of extra room in the toe area and your foot is sliding in the ballet shoe.
  4. Go up sizes if the shoes feels too tight or the heel is digging into the back of your foot.
  5. The ballet shoe fits properly when you don't have to tighten the drawstring, your heel stays in place and your toes are nearly at the tip of the shoe and you are still able to wiggle your toes.

Sewing elastic onto ballet shoes.

  1. Take your ballet shoe and fold down the heel until it is flat against the sockling.
  2. Take a pencil and mark where the fold creases closest to the binding.
  3. Stitch one side of the elastic onto the ballet shoe binding just below the drawstring whilst being careful not to sew the elastic onto or over the drawstring.
  4. Place another pencil mark where the elastic meets the binding.
  5. The again sew on the elastic below the drawstring.

Repeat these steps for the other shoe.

Tip and warnings
  • Sewing through the drawstring will make it difficult or impossible to appropriately tighten the opening of the shoe.
  • If you are a young dancer, always have an adult help you with burning the ends of elastic or ribbons.
  • Some people prefer to sew on two pieces of elastic, crossed in an "X" shape. This alternative method is popular among male dancers as well as those with tapered feet.
  • Sew the elastic so that it is attached tightly. Check the elastic regularly to see if any repairs are needed. Don't dance in them if the elastic is loose.


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