Sewing my first pair of Ballet Shoes!

Posted February 11th, 2010 by layla

I bought my first pair of Ballet shoes on Monday!

Well.. That’s not entirely true. I actually ordered my first pair on Christmas day of last year. After a long backorder period, they eventually arrived, more than two weeks late, and more than two sizes too big. When they said street shoe size, apparently they didn’t mean U.S. Women’s street shoe size… Maybe they meant U.K.? Odd, since the website is based in… the USA! @_@

The funny (neat) thing about ballet shoes, is that you have to sew the ankle elastics in yourself! I guess it’s sort of like a rite-of-passage, in a way. In any case, this first time is definitely something I’ll never forget!

I went to The Studio for my first modern class, and after signing up for a 30-day membership, and chatting a little bit, I asked the owner, Sue, if I could borrow a needle and some thread to sew my ballet shoes while I was waiting for the class. She said no problem, and commented that “ballet dancers always have a needle, thread and a thimble (don’t want to bleed on your new ballet shoes!) on-hand!”

So, I started… and 30 minutes later I was done…… with the first elastic, on the first shoe. 3 more to go! There has to be an easier way! So, I go to the front desk. I ask the nice girl there if she knows a better way to sew these straps onto the inside canvas of the shoe, without sewing through to the outside of the shoe? She looks at my work. She gasps. “This is beautiful!”, she says. “…… but… I don’t think it matters if you sew through to the outside!” She proceeds to check her shoes… “yup, see, they’ve just got a single line through the elastic, from one side to the other, that goes through the outer canvas of the shoe.” Compare this to my perfect square, traced around the perimeter of the elastic, that only goes through the inner canvas, not through the outside of the shoe. Overkill! She brings my shoe into Sue’s office, and we all proceed to laugh at how beautiful and totally overboard my sewing is for the task at hand. Sue reminds me that I won’t be performing in these shoes. Then she takes out her shoes for demonstration and says “and by next week, they’ll look dirty, beat up, and be smelly.” She advises that I just do a simple line across the elastic, and definitely don’t worry about going through the canvas on the outside of the shoe. She comments again at how beautiful the first one I sewed looks. We all laugh. I feel totally relieved.

Back outside, I realize it’s time for modern class, and leave the rest of my sewing for later.

Modern class is AWESOME! Sue teaches it herself. It feels like a great yoga workout, fun dancing, and the naive curiosity and joy of being 8 years old all over again, all mis-mashed together into one class. We start with relaxing stretch. Continue to neat floor work forms (which can be done in one of many ways, depending on how adventurous you feel), and we finish up with a refreshing little choreography. I feel free. Free to act a little silly, free to make mistakes, and free to be happy. Like another layer of stress was relieved during this hour. I can’t wait until next time!

Back in the real world (the changing room), I’m sewing my ballet shoes again. This time it takes me about 10 minutes to finish the last 3 elastics… and that includes the time it took to thread the tiny hole in the needle 3 more times! They aren’t as pretty as the first one… but I remind myself that these shoes won’t be pretty for very long anyway (if I’m doing anything right at all! :)). While I’m sewing, I’m also making conversation with the other dancers. It’s so neat, everybody has a very different background, but we’re all here for some of the same reasons, and we all seem very happy. I hope to see them all again soon!

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