Trying to sew ribbons on to Gaynor Minden pointe shoes is a headache! The sockliner is more or less fused to the satin, and the two fabrics combined are very tough and difficult to get a needle through. I’ve even known dancers to break needles trying to sew them!
Unfortunately there are no easy fixes. I haven’t tried the new Pointe Snaps with Gaynors – if you have and they work, let me know!
To be safe, buy a stronger needle – you don’t want to risk getting bits of needle stuck in your shoe. “Crewel” needles (available from fabric stores) are a heavier gauge and have a bigger eye than regular needles.
For thread, you could use upholstery thread, dental floss or even fine gauge fishing line – or buy the Bunheads pointe shoe sewing kit, which includes proper waxed pointe shoe thread.
Some people persevere with sewing the ribbons on to the sockliner – it is possible to pick up a few stitches, and with a stronger thread, that may be enough to hold the ribbon. However it’s easier (if you can call it that!) to sew straight through the satin.
A thimble is absolutely essential, unless you want blisters. It enables you to put more pressure on the needle to force it through the material. Buy one that fits on your middle finger or your thumb (it should stay on if you hang your hand downwards, but shouldn’t pinch).
Never used a thimble? It’s easy. Start your stitch. When you get to the stage where you need to push the needle through the material, use the thimble. See all those little dents on the top and side? Notice how the end of the needle fits snugly into any one of them. That’s what they’re for – to hold the needle still and straight while you push it through the fabric.
Most people use the tip of the thimble to push the needle through. Place the tip of your thimbled finger against the end of the needle, making sure the end is nestled in a dent, and push. You’ll find you can exert a lot more pressure than with your bare finger, because the metal protects your skin!
Many tailors wear the thimble on their thumb instead of their middle finger. It’s more awkward to use, but your thumb is stronger than your middle finger so it’s a good option if you’re working with tough fabrics – which, with Gaynore Mindens, you are! You may find you have to take it on and off as you sew, and it can be tricky working out how to push – you’ll probably find using the side of your thumb works better than the tip.
There is one silver lining to all this – because Gaynor Mindens last so much longer, you won’t have to sew ribbons on so often!