How to Darn Pointe Shoes

14 Responses

  1. Avatar Justine says:

    I offer darning pointe shoes as a service for anyone struggling with this. It does take a long time and it needs to be right. The platform needs to remain flat with no knots in it. I get shoes from all over the country and even with my experience it still takes 2hrs per pair! Details can be found at http://www.songdance.co.uk

  2. Avatar Caron Jones says:

    An alternative to crochet thread or carpet thread which is less bulky but more durable than regular cotton or polyester sewing thread is embroidery “silk”. You can seperate the strands and use as many or as few as desired, and get the perfect colour match. Remember, too, that a bulkier darn will flatten considerably once you start wearing your shoes en pointe and a thicker darn provides cushioning, noise reduction, and (unvarnished) extra grip as well as preventing wear.
    Of course, you can always do what so many dancers do these days and cut the satin away from the platform to expose the canvas underneath which is a more durable material than satin and provides a little more grip, then glue the raw edge, or blanket stitch around it, to prevent fraying or curling back.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Do you know Caron, I’d completely forgotten that embroidery thread is exactly what I used to use! When I got my first pair, I was going to buy some pink thread but my mother had a huge reel of thread in her embroidery box that was exactly the right shade, so I used that – and it lasted me for years!

  3. Avatar Caron Jones says:

    Whilst sock darning has always been intended as a repair strategy, the darning of pointe shoes has always been to prevent wear and reinforce the fabric, even going back to the romantic era when pointework was in its infancy. Once the satin has started to stretch and wear it is very difficult to retrieve the situation. Pointe shoe platforms are under much more pressure than your average sock!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Yes, I remember once in my early days, being too lazy to darn one pair of shoes before I wore them. I darned them after my first class and it never really worked – within a couple of classes the satin at the edges of the darn had torn away.

  4. Avatar Caron Jones says:

    The weaving in and out method means you go into the satin far less. The thread is only attached at the sides when you create the “ladder” to weave under and over, and along the top edge of the platform. It is important, regardless of method, to take up the canvas underlying the satin with your needle. Some satin will not support the darn and will start to tear otherwise. I favour Mercer crochet thread shade 624 and because I’m not doing a lot of little stitches into the shoe, I use a strong straight needle. I have mentioned coating the darn in clear glue or varnish to make it durable. An alternative to this is to paint over the darn ( you can get a really good colour match using those little sample match pots of paint). This enables you to sponge the platform clean if necessary. Another note about the weaving method is that I weave very closely, effectively creating an extra (cushioning) layer, using double thread all the way. It’s quick. It takes me about an hour and a half to do both shoes. I start with a knot, close to the pleats and go across the sole slightly. As you weave, the thread pulls up into an arc that matches the contour of the sole. I tuck the original knot into a pleat or under the darn. If I come to the end of the thread when I’m darning in and out I go into the satin leaving a length to tie the new piece of thread onto with a knot. This knot will also be concealed under the darn and will flatten with wear. When you anchor your thread to the top edge, step you stitches to create a curve. If you go in a straight line in the satin you will almost certainly cause a hole in the satin even if you are taking up the canvas layer underneath. This method can be used around the sides and heel if required. Watch the tension around the heel, as it is easy to draw the fabric too tight and reduce the length of the shoe slightly.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Thank you so much Caron, I think your method will be very helpful to many dancers and you’ve described it very clearly. I’m going to update the main article to make sure people find your post!

      • Avatar Caron Jones says:

        I’m glad it was useful. I have quite a lot of useful tips. I was a pointe shoe fitter for 15 years and I’ve been wearing pointe shoes for over 40years. Not continuously, you understand!

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          I’d love to hear more of them! If you’d like to write some articles, send me a message on the Contact Me page (link in the footer) and I’d be happy to publish them here.

  5. Avatar Caron Jones says:

    My darning method creates a greater coverage and lasts forever, especially if you varnish or clear glue over it. Start with the left to right bars but then weave under and over the thread, like loom weaving and only attach at top side of platform in a curving formation.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      So you’re not darning into the material on the crossways darn,just weaving between the threads? I can see how that would work,thanks for the tip.

  6. Avatar Marisa says:

    Surely it would take ages to sew with regular thread? I can imagine it wouldn’t last long, either.

  7. Avatar Hadassah says:

    I’ve seen girls use just regular sewing thread on their pointe shoes. This leaves less bulk, but you would have to sew them more often.

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