Knowing how to properly tie the ribbons on your pointe shoes is one of the most important things that ballet students need to know how to do. There are a few slight variations on “tying technique” that I’ve seen over the years, but the version I’ll show here is what I have always used myself and has served me very well.
(Note: All of the pictures I’ve included are of my left foot, so to tie your right shoe on your right foot you’ll just need to reverse everything. Just remember the knots should ALWAYS be on the inner side of your ankle and never on the outside.)
- Put the shoe on your foot and separate the ribbons so that there is one ribbon on each side of your foot/ankle. Make sure the ribbons are not twisted. While you are tying, I recommend keeping your foot flexed so that you prevent tying the ribbons too loose or too tight.
- Take the inside ribbon and cross it over towards the outer side of your foot. Wrap this ribbon one full time around your leg/upper ankle and end with the leftover ribbon on the inner side of your ankle.
- Now take the outside ribbon and cross it over towards the inner side of your foot. Wrap this ribbon one full time around your leg/upper ankle and end with the leftover ribbon on the inner side of your ankle.
- Double knot the two ribbons together. As you can see from the photos, you want to have some leftover ribbon after you knot them so that it won’t be too difficult to untie them when you need to take your shoes off. About 2 inches of “extra” ribbon length should be enough. When you first sew your shoes with brand new ribbons, you will likely need to trim off some excess after you tie them for the very first time — just make sure you don’t cut off TOO much. You will also want to either paint the ends of the ribbons with clear nail polish or use a lighter to singe the ends. This will keep them from fraying/unraveling.
- After you make your double knot, fold up the extra ribbon sticking out and tuck it underneath the ribbons that are tied around your leg/ankle. As you fold it, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want to try to make it more of a flat shape than just balling it up. (*Some people tuck the extra ribbon “from the top” as opposed to “from the bottom” like I show in the pictures. Both are correct, but I just personally think they stay tucked in better when you tuck them from the bottom.)
A few additional things to point out…
- I see a lot of my students try to tie their pointe shoe ribbons way too low on their ankles. As you can see from the photos above, you don’t tie them at the very bottom of your Achilles area.
- It will take some trial and error to figure out how tight you need to tie your ribbons so that they aren’t hanging too loosely or cutting off the circulation in your feet. After you practice enough times, you will reach a point where you naturally know to tightly to pull on the ribbon while tying to achieve the right tightness.
- As you wrap the second ribbon around your ankle, try to wrap it as much on top of the first one as possible. This will give it a cleaner look.
Here is a short video tutorial to help with any uncertainties! (Please note that the video shows my right foot)