Pointe shoes, while strong enough to support a dancer’s full weight on her toes, are surprisingly delicate and don’t last a very long time! Ballet dancers are constantly trying to figure out innovative ways to make their pointe shoes last longer. While no pointe shoe will stay in usable shape forever, there are a few ways to give them a fighting chance at lasting a bit longer than normal!
To make pointe shoes last longer, you can use Jet glue, darn the boxes, rotate your shoes, store your shoes properly, and always remove the padding.
These tips are meant to prolong the life of new shoes, and shouldn’t be used on shoes that are past their prime.
Many professional dancers use these tactics on multiple pairs of pointe shoes during their career, so rest assured they are tried and true methods!
However, we at Dance Parent 101 take no responsibility for injury due to following these methods of pointe shoe care. Proceed with caution!
1. Use Jet Glue
Jet Glue is a brand of super glue that is favored by professional dancers that hardens the materials of pointe shoes. You can find it at your local dancewear store or here on Amazon! They also make a brush-on version for easier application.
Jet Glue is often thought of as a last-ditch method to save a dying pair of pointe shoes for just one more performance. However, you can always use it on new shoes to increase the strength of the box and the shank from the beginning.
How To Use Jet Glue
Cut the tip of the Jet Glue container to create a small hole.
Gently squeeze the Jet Glue and apply to the breaking point of the shank, both inside and out.
Apply glue to the inside of the platform.
Apply glue to the inside of the wings.
Pro-Tip – Jet Glue comes out very fast, so use it sparingly. There is no turning back after you apply Jet Glue, so go slowly, as you can always add more.
2. Darn the Boxes of Your Pointe Shoes
Many professional ballerinas darn their pointe shoes from the beginning to give the shoes a slightly wider platform and a harder tip, which will make them last a bit longer.
There are several methods of darning shoes, and you don’t have to have excellent sewing skills to do it! Here is one simple method to try.
How To Darn Pointe Shoes
- Thick needle
- Crochet thread or embroidery floss
- Thimble (if you wish!)
Thread the needle with a decent amount of thread – I usually use the length of my arm as a starting point.
Begin by looping another length of thread around the perimeter of the platform 8-10 times. Cut the thread once these loops are finished.
Holding the loops tightly together and in place, whip stitch through the satin as well as the first layer of the shoe (this is why you need the thick needle!)
Continue to whip stitch around the platform. You will want to decide for yourself how close you want the stitches to be to one another – the tighter the stitch, the thicker the edges of the platform become, and the sturdier the base will be.
Cut the thread when you’ve completed your last stitch and apply a dab of Jet Glue or swipe of clear nail polish to attach the end of the thread to the shoe.
Pro-Tip – You will not be good at this at first! Try darning an old pair of shoes to get the hang of it!
For more about sewing ribbons and elastics on pointe shoes, check out our article here!
3. Rotate Your Pointe Shoes
In order to maximize the life of your pointe shoes, you can swap them out every time you wear them. Pointe shoes aren’t like street shoes with a right shoe and a left shoe.
They are all made exactly the same, so you as the wearer can decide which shoe goes on which foot.
To keep track of which shoe you wore on which foot last, get creative! If you have pointe on Mondays and Wednesdays, try marking one shoe with an R and one with an L and only wear them on the “correct” feet on Mondays.
Swap them out on Wednesdays so that the left is on the right, and the right is on the left. Be sure to swap the toe pads, too.
4. Store Pointe Shoes Properly
All dance shoes need to be stored properly to extend their life, but pointe shoes need extra care if you want them to last longer.
The best choice for storing your pointe shoes between classes is to place them in a mesh bag that can hang from a doorknob. That way, air can flow freely around and in them to dry out the moisture that was created during class.
5. Always Remove the Padding
Many dancers are guilty of forgetting to remove the padding in pointe shoes between classes. After all, toe pads fit so perfectly into pointe shoes, why not store them there too?
Storing toe pads inside pointe shoes doesn’t allow any of the materials to dry out, and constant exposure to sweat will break down the shoes as well as the pads.
Padding should be removed from pointe shoes after every class and stored in a separate mesh bag or in the same bag as the pointe shoes, just not inside them.
With the right care, you can get a little more life out of pointe shoes. But, if you feel insecure about the stability of your shoes and can tell they’re dying, it’s time to head to the store and buy a new pair! Find out more about how to identify a dying pointe shoe here!
Hopefully, these tips will help you limit your shoe shopping trips and spend more time at the studio!