Should you darn Pointe shoes or glue on toe caps?

Should you darn Pointe shoes or glue on toe caps?

Whilst having a Darned Good Time I made the most amazing discovery! It is something that has saved me so much time, effort and a lot of tears! And I know it will be a help for all us busy ballet dance Mums, Dads, Grandparents with daughters who wear Pointe Shoes.

Darning Pointe Shoes

I’ve always loved seeing ballet dancers en pointe. It must be one of the most graceful, beautiful art forms there are. The elegance of a row of girls gliding gracefully across a stage is one of the most uplifting sights that I know.

However, as a dance mum, I know that the beautiful elegance and grace that is portrayed in the performance belies a lot of effort and hard work, not only by the dancer but by the person behind the scenes dressing those dancers!

I know that looking at these graceful ballerinas performing no-one on the outside would guess the sheer hard work and hour upon hour of practice that go into each dance. And no-one who doesn’t share a bathroom with a ballet dancer should ever need to know about the state of their feet!

Well, I feel it is just as much hard work for us poor mums (dads/grandmas) who have to spend hour upon hour trying to force a sharp needle into an impossibly thin piece of silk whilst avoiding piercing the hard shell of the shoe underneath. That has got to be absolutely the worst job involved with being a dance mum (anybody got anything worse?).

Am I the only one who feels that sinking feeling when they hear those chilling words “Mum, I think I need a new pair of pointe shoes”? My dread is not for the shopping trip itself – that I just leave to the professional fitters at Dancemania: whilst I sit and relax or browse the store my daughter is completely taken care of by experienced fitters who provide her with the perfect pair of shoes. No, my dread comes after the purchase, then it is my job to DARN THE TOES!!!!!!!

The times I have spent shouting at that darning needle and cotton to get into where I want it to go instead of my finger, dabbing up the spots of blood before they stain the shoe and all the time trying to maintain an elegant, symmetrical daisy chain pattern: I tell you, it is the job from hell! I dread it to the bottom of my stomach and it is only the fact that I know the toes need extra protection to prolong their working life and the thought of how beautiful the dancing will be that gets me through.

Glueing Toe Caps

Anyway, it seems that my prayers have been answered when, on my latest trip to Dancemania, I discovered stick on suede toe caps! Where have you been all my life?

These beige patches can be cut exactly to size and then stuck on with a strong white glue like Copydex to provide a perfectly protected platform for pointe!

What could be easier or quicker?

Is it better to darn pointe shoe toe caps or to glue them on?

So, I am much happier now that I know I have saved myself hours of hard work and still achieving the same result. However, I cannot help but feel a little sad. There is undoubtedly a sense of great achievement having finished darning a pair of pointe shoes and, on that rare occasion (for me anyway!), where the stitches just seem to fall into line there is nothing prettier than the swirling circle of pink stitching.

I would recommend that for a first pair of pointe shoes it is definitely worth going through the blood, sweat and tears of darning. You will always treasure your daughter’s first pair of pointe shoes no matter how battered they become and the nostalgia does owe a lot to the amount of time you have been caressing and turning those shoes whilst sewing. But once they have moved on from their first pair take my advice: ditch the needles and get stuck in!

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6 thoughts on “Should you darn Pointe shoes or glue on toe caps?

  1. Pingback: All Pointe Shoes are not Created Equal. Consider these Important Tips to Help you Find Just the Right Pointe Shoe

  2. Debra

    Interesting comments, I know that some mums hate the darning job, but for me, sat in the green room, waiting for my daughter to come out of class, I get a sense of satisfaction from sitting with shoes / costumes / accessories, sewing away with other ballet mums, who are doing the same thing. We share our feelings and thoughts (also hints and tips!) as a group. Anyone who has acted as a backstage matron at a dance show will tell you about the comeraderie of getting (sometimes up to 20) excited dancers ready, coiffeured, made up and on stage is a joy!

  3. pia

    my daughter has gone through 8 pair of pointe shoes in less than a year (she is en pointe about 10 hours per week) – and EACH pair were required to be darned. Thankfully – her teacher insist the wearer does the darning! She wants them to have a sense of history – and actually wrap their hands around their shoes and learn to work them.

  4. Michelle

    We have just brought my daughters first pointe shoes and as a non-ballet mum I was wondering whether to glue or darn. So thank you.

  5. Lucy

    As a ‘dance daughter’ I’m rather shocked at all the dance mums out there who sew their daughters’ shoes for them. Of course my mum helped with my first couple of pairs (and she’d taught me to sew before that anyway), and we both worked out how to darn together. But after that I have always sewn and darned my own shoes – quite aside from the fact that neither my mum nor my teacher would have been happy for me to rely on my mum’s sewing skills indefinitely – I wanted to! Sewing your shoes is part of a dancers life, as you get more experienced only you really know exactly where you want your ribbons placed, precisely how taut you want your elastic, and whether you need to darn just for traction or for stability.
    Darning gets easier and quicker with time, it’s fiddly the first couple of pairs but after that it’s not difficult at all, although admittedly it can be tedious which is why I do it while watching TV. Nothing else can quite mimic the effects of darning – unlike suede patches it will not go shiny and slippery with use (like the toes on your soft shoes), quite the opposite – with use they increase their friction and pick up rosin. Darning can also be applied in different ways to improve balance en pointe – I always darn around the edge of the platform which increases the platform width and helps balance, and when I used to wear Gambas I would spot darn on top of the normal darning to even out the platforms (which were never perfectly flat).
    I’ve been tempted by the glue-on patches before, but always ended up darning instead. Maybe its a psychological thing, it’s what I’m used to and I feel it gives a nicer feel to the platform and I don’t have to worry about something that’s just glued on twisting or coming off while I’m dancing.

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