How are Pointe Shoes made?
Pointe shoes involve a complex manufacturing process requiring great expertise. Each manufacturer uses unique methods and designs; however, most pointe shoes are made using basic components and a basic form. The upper part of the shoe (the body) is sewn together from several pieces of satin. There often is a lining made of cotton.
A toe box is created on the body from many layers of paste and burlap. Typically, a sole has three parts: the outer sole, the insole and the shank. Shanks are generally made of cardboard, fibreboard or leather. The material chosen, the layers, the skiving of the sole (making it thinner at the heel end) and cutting or shaping of areas will determine the strength and flexibility of the sole. With the use of glue and nails, the shank fits between the outer sole and the insole.
The box is molded on a last, which is a shoemaker’s form. The last actually used will determine the shape and size of the shoe. Every manufacturer needs many lasts, to be able to make many different shapes (models) and sizes.
Most traditional shoes have pleating behind the toe platform at the tip of the box. These are formed when the single forward satin section is folded in around the box and tucked under the outer sole. Some traditional shoes use foam beneath the pleats.
Once the shoe has its basic shape, it needs to be refined: this requires precise shaping to create a smooth, symmetrical box, even pleats and a balanced platform, which allows the shoe to stand up on its own.
Sansha’s ranges vary from machine-stitched to hand-stitched, which is why prices sometimes vary. There are both beginners’ / students’ shoes and professional shoes: your choice will depend on the strength of your feet.
Always air your pointe shoes after use: never stuff them in your bag and leave them there, as the humidity from your feet during class will not dry out and this will soften the box and cause them to become unusable.