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How Pointe Shoes Are Made

by Victoria

in products

Post image for How Pointe Shoes Are Made

Recently, the Allegro ladies were fortunate enough to watch a master shoe maker from Suffolk Pointe Company show us how they make their pointe shoes.

Suffolk pointe shoes are made in Leicester, England, an hour train ride north of London. Allegro carries the Suffolk Solo, the original Suffolk pointe shoe, and it is one of our favorites to fit. Each pointe shoe manufacturer has their own unique way of making pointe shoes – and this is the way Suffolk does it!

 

Pointe Shoe Last

 Pointe shoes are built on a last, like the one pictured above. Suffolk has thousands of lasts for each different size, width, and style. The sole is hammered onto the last and the pointe shoe is built around it.

Pointe shoe fabric

Pointe shoe fabric

Approximately 10 pieces of material are sewn together by skilled seamstresses before the it reaches the shoe makers. The shiny satin is on one side and the canvas is on the other.

Shanks

The shanks come in three different strengths. The lightest is 1.8mm thick, standard is 2mm, and hard is 2.5mm.

pleats

The fabric is pulled around the last, and tacked in. Pleats are carefully created on the bottom of the toe box by filling in the fabric with tools. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to do this part! The fabric is then held on with a thick string before it is sewn.

Pointe shoe fabric on last

Pointe shoe fabric before and after it is put on the last. The Suffolk shoes are “turn shoes”,  meaning they are built inside out and turned right side out later on.

Paste

The box is created and hardened with paste made of flour, starch, water, and “secret ingredients.”

pasting

Paste is applied by hand. More paste = a harder box.

burlap box

Burlap triangles are added to the end of the shoe to create the box.

Making a toe box

The burlap triangles are added one at a time by layering paste on top of them by hand. The amount of paste the shoe maker puts on will affect the shape of the box, the hardness of the box, and how high up the wings go.

Shank

The outer sole of the pointe shoe shows the Suffolk logo and the size of each shoe.

Turn shoe

Partially assembled pointe shoes! The fabric and sole have been stitched together on the last.

Cutting the fabric

Once the shoes are turned right side out, the excess fabric is cut off of the shoes.

off the last

A pointe shoe after it has been turned right side out and excess fabric has been trimmed off. (This one is soft with no box because we skipped an important step during the demonstration: putting the shoes into the oven!)

Tools of the trade

A pointe shoe maker’s tools.

Megan wearing suffolk

Megan at the Suffolk booth, trying out one of their beautiful pointe shoes!

Thanks to Suffolk for a fun and informative afternoon! Check out more information about our pointe fitting process here at Allegro or make an appointment for a fitting.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Shauna Montoya May 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

Hi I am in an IB program and we need to have our personal project be something we are interested in. I thought of making a pair of pointe shoes. I was wonder if you wouldn’t mind emailing me a more detailed explanationof how to make them because I don’t know how and I want mine to be functional. If you help me sweet, but if not, thanks anyway!!

Zara Hoare March 1, 2014 at 6:30 am

Hi we have to do a project on anything we want at school and I am interested in making functional pointe shoes. If you would be able to email me and give me more details on how it is done that would be amazing as I only have a few months and no real idea about what to do. Thanks in advance if you help me but if not that’s ok!

Zara March 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Hi I want to make pointe shoes but don’t know how. Could you give me more information on the process please?

Chloe Silbernagel April 22, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Hi, my friend and I are doing a genius project. We need to contact somebody who knows how to make a pair of pointe shoe. We are interested on making a functional pair of shoes and we have about one month to make them. If possible, it would be nice if you could email me the process, and what material to use. Thank you.

Jo June 21, 2016 at 2:48 am

Thanks for the illustration. How can we download it?

Thanks once again and God bless.

MT May 22, 2017 at 10:48 am

Hi! I am currently doing a research project in school about how pointe shoes are made. I was wondering if yo could email me a more detailed process so I could possibly make my own pair. If you could get back to me within a few days that would be appreciated. Thanks!

the allegro team May 23, 2017 at 5:23 am

Hello! At Allegro, although we are experts at fitting pointe shoes, we do not make our own. The process of making a pointe shoe is highly specialized and requires in depth knowledge of the craft. If you create your own as a concept for a project, we would strongly advise not dancing in the shoe. Perhaps you could try contacting a pointe shoe manufacturer for more in depth information. Best of luck with your project!

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