How to Make Ballet Slippers

Rachel Hanson
Baby Ballet Slippers

If you are looking for a fun and fruitful project, you may want to find out how to make ballet slippers. Make a pair for yourself, and once you've got the process down, make a few pairs for family members and friends-they are a great gift when they're unique and made by a special friend!

Popularity of Ballet Slippers

At some times in fashion history, flats are out, but flats always come back with force, and ballet flats are a particularly popular version that come back again and again. Ballet slippers have a classical line and a pretty simplicity. What's more, they evoke the elegance and beauty of ballet and ballerinas. While any department store will carry ballet slipper shoes, making your own ensures their uniqueness. You can make yours as plain or as ornate as you'd like; you can also choose your own fabric for the upper and your own sole material, depending on what kinds of surfaces and in what weather you plan to wear your slippers. The instructions below are for basic ballet slippers like you see in classes and on stage, but you can also turn them into casual flats or bead them and make them into a special pair of wedding shoes.

How to Make Ballet Slippers

Making ballet slippers includes several steps. You need to measure your feet (or the feet of the person for whom you are making the shoes), you need to choose materials, cut them, and then sew them together. Lastly, you can decorate the shoes with bows or trim, or you can sew an elastic around the ankle like traditional ballet slippers have. Although ballet slippers don't have the shiny ribbons tied on them that pointe shoes do, many people like to sew these onto ballet slippers simply for the effect. When making your own shoes, you can choose any style and design you like!

Sizing

The easiest way to get the correct size is to put your feet down on a piece of fabric and trace your feet. Once you have traced your feet, you will need to expand the size by at least one-quarter inch (more if you are going to have a lining inside the slippers), which allows for the seam. Unless you are using a material with some elasticity, the sizing must be perfect in order for your shoes to look nice and to not fall off while you walk.

Materials

Ballet slippers traditionally have leather soles, and, certainly if you are going to wear the shoes outside, you will want to go with something as tough as leather; cotton is not going to hold up well on the sole. The upper part of ballet slippers is traditionally made from leather or from cotton; every dancer has their own preference. While leather is shinier and gives a more polished look, cotton has a more relaxed fit and doesn't make your feet overheat because the fabric breathes. Also take into consideration the sewing job while choosing your materials. While leather may be ultimately nice, you may want to try a first pair in cotton to see if the sizing is right and get the hang of sewing it before tackling the job of sewing leather.

A blogger called Shabby Raggy Roses in Australia offers a template on her blog which can be used to cut out both the top of the ballet slipper and the bottom of the slipper. Before you start cutting, make sure that you have adjusted the template to precisely the right size for your own foot; when increasing or decreasing the size, don't forget that you will need extra material beyond the size of your foot because the seam will take up some of the material as well.

Sewing Ballet Slippers

For sewing experts, these steps for how to make ballet slippers by hand is not a lot of work; however, if you are new to sewing, a machine will do the job in less time and the stitches will be neater. Don't forget to sew the shoes inside-out and then turn them around so that the stitches are on the inside and not the outside!

Personalization

If you wanted the same ballet slippers as everyone else, you would probably go to a dance supply store and buy them, so the last step is lots of fun! Sew elastics and/or ribbons on them, put an elastic around the foot opening and tie it in a bow like little girls do, or opt for a non-ballet look by painting the shoes or putting all kinds of beads on them. However you personalize your ballet slippers, knowing that you made them yourself will increase the joy and satisfaction of wearing them every time you practice your five positions or your turns and jumps.

How to Make Ballet Slippers