Category Archives: ballet clothes

Pointe Shoes Adventures

Like the title says, this is about my pointe shoes…just stuff  I haven’t had the chance to write about.

Ever since I got my shoes, let’s just say I’ve become friends with a needle and thread. After initially sewing them, and wearing them once (this was before the school session started and I was just doing eleves in first and fifth at the home barre), I realized my left one had to be resewn. The ribbon was just not where I needed it to be to help mold the shoes to my not-so-high arches when up on pointe. That time it took as long as the first time, since I was still getting the hang of it. Since then, though I’ve gotten much better – and quicker – at it. Or perhaps the time just appears to be going by quicker…

Then couple weeks ago, I resewed the ribbons my left shoe. A few days before, when I was putting on the shoes at home, one of my kitties decided to paw at my ribbons, so they had a little scratch that I was hoping wouldn’t turn into a hole or tear. Since the other ribbon had a scratch too, I switched out both ribbons on the shoe. Now that I wasn’t being impatient to put the shoes on I found the process somewhat enjoyable. I’m glad I’ve come around to liking it because I’ve found myself doing a lot of ribbon sewing since then…

My first pair of shoes (Bloch Balance European) seem to be done. My feet, especially my smaller right foot was feeling like it was sinking in too far andnot being supported. That’s when I discovered that I do need something between my big toe and rest of the foot, at least on my right foot. While I have a space between my big toe and second toe on both feet (due to my stupid flip flop habit a decade ago), my right foot feels, and behaves, completely different from my left. After putting together some common sense with good old youtube research, I realized that I was at risk of developing a bunion, and needed something for my toe gap (it being close to midnite whe I figured it out, and no chance of going to any dance store before my next class, I improvised… and used some disposable earplugs, which were the only thing available that seemed like the right size to do the job). While that helped, I still was feeling like the shoes could at any time cross the line from broken-in comfortable to unwearable.

So I got another pair of the same exact shoes because, well, up until they’d started to increasingly put pressure on my toes they’d been good, so it seemed like a good reason. Unfortunately, even though I made sure to get the exact same model, size, width, they shoes felt completely different. At the store I was able to slowly roll up to pointe very easily, which should have made me think something was up. I don’t know if this is a dumb (or simply unasked – believe me, I typed it in to my search engine of choice and nothing came up) question but I wonder, do pointe shoes become somewhat “broken in” by being tried on constantly in the store? Well, anyway, the store only carries one pair of each size in stock at any given moment, and I wanted to have a pair of back up shoes ready to go in case my first pair failed at a time when we couldn’t get to the store. So I got them and hoped that they would, in time, feel like my first pair.

Long story short… they didn’t. I wore them around at home, hoping to mold the box to my feet like with the first pair, but it didn’t seem to be working. But when I did eleves and releves the shank just seemed so flexible. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if it wan’t for the box being so uncomfortable. I started to worry…it had seemed too good to be true that I would find the perfect shoe on my first try and things would be so simple. I was also worrying because…this feels like confession time, but the reason my first shoes were so comfortable was because that model comes with a built in cushion, which combined with the Ouch Pouch really took the edge off things (ok, honestly, I’ve been feeling like such a cheater…). But, the downside is I was afraid I was now stuck to that particular model because of the stupid cushion. Except that the box of this model, even at the narrowest width, was starting to feel like it might be too roomy for my foot, like I needed a lower profile, and so, if I flattened the box it would be too wide . How stressful! What to do…

Well, through a small series of coincidences I wound up at the dance store again, and decided since I’m there I may as well try out some shoes (so strange, I usually hate trying stuff on, but for some reason with pointe shoes it’s different. Perhaps it’s the utilitarian factor?). I started with the same model I have, because the girl suggested that maybe I’d just gotten an off pair. Hmm, well I was not convinced, because the pair I tried on seemed ok, but it was just too easy to roll up, and I didn’t want to deal with that issue again. I asked for something with a lower profile and she gave me a couple different models of Russian Pointe shoes to try (I think Rubin and Alekssandra?). They were not very comfortable on my feet once en pointe (not to mention pricy), and I was starting to think that I’d just had beginner’s luck when I found my first pair. Or perhaps they’d been completely unsuitable from the beginning, but maybe I’d just wanted it to work out so badly that it did?

Then, my friend suggested I try on her shoe model (Grishko 2007), and figuring I had nothing to lose by this point, I did. Oh my gosh, as soon as I went up en pointe with them (not rolling up, because the shank was much stiffer, and the heel kept sliding off, but just stepping to pointe at the barre), they just felt so comfortable. I even experimented just being up on one leg, and still, no pain (which made me realize how unsuitable my first “fitting” [I mostly fit myself] had been, since I’d been scared to stand on one foot en pointe – perhaps rightly – but I hadn’t been able to gage how much pressure there’d be on my toe while on one leg. Since my first pair were getting more painful by the day, I decided to get the shoes. When I got home, I looked up these shoes in the pointe shoes database at PointePerfect (which is an amazingly useful tool) and saw that these are low profile shoes designed to reduce the pressure on the big toe joint. Perfect!

More sewing. First I unsewed my second pair of Bloch Balance Europeans, so I could reuse my ribbons. I managed to get the ribbons placed correctly on the first try, but ended up adding a second piece of elastic to keep the heels from sliding off. But my work was rewarded once I put the shoes on and did some barre work. I was feeling really secure in these shoes, like I could hold balances for longer, even on one leg. Even though the platform is narrower, I just find these shoes easier to work with. Then again, they are still really new, so we’ll see.

I feel pretty bad about the pair of shoes that didn’t really work out. The box appears to still be far from broken in, but at the same time I don’t feel supported. I suppose I will still use then for basic barre work at home, but there’s also the possibility that i could use these as the pair that I turn into soft pointe shoes. I know the box isn’t comfortable now, but if I knew I wasn’t going to be going up en pointe in them I could soften it up more.

And now, some pictures. I’m too lazy to take some of me wearing them while doing anything remotely cool right now, but yeah…

My pointe shoes

My pointe shoes

From right to left, my first pair of Bloch European Balance, second pair, and Grishko 2007

From right to left, my first pair of Bloch European Balance, Grishko 2007, and second pair of Blochs. Notice how the platform on the Grishko is much narrower

Why do cats like pointe shoes so much?!

Why do cats like pointe shoes so much?! Could it be the string…

 

DIY: Converting* Tights

*don’t know if what I made are called “convertible tights” or “stirrup tights” or what… I just know they started off tight-life as generic footed tights and now they’re…not.

Anyway.

As I wrote in my last post, I was having a little dilemn/ma [oh my gosh, I looked up how to spell this word while writing this post and found this site, http://www.dilemna.info that will just blow your mind if you’re into that sort of stuff, which I am] about what to wear for class – all my tights are footed and I discoverd I like the feel of bare skin against my pointe shoes. Teacher was kind enough to tell me about the tight-surgery they used to perform in her school or company, so I figured I’d give it a go. I found a pair of my most used-looking tights (in other words, full of runs, holes, and probably long considered unwearable to any non-dancer), and went at them with some scissors.

The results are not pretty – it was my first try, after all – but I wore them for class today and they worked out great for pointe barre. Of course, since they’re not actual convertible tights, I still had to wear socks over them once I changed back into slippers. To be fair, I don’t actually know firsthand how convertible tights feel, so for all I know I would feel like have to wear socks over those too…

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Before and after

I used a BodyWrappers tights for this experiment  project because, in addition to being my most, frankly, messed up looking pair of tights, at the toes and heels they appear to be… let’s see how to describe this… not reinforced necessarily but… like the weaving is going at a perpendicular pattern to the rest… I guess that’s the best way I can put it? Anyway, this made me think – correctly apparently – that if I cut within that area it wouldn’t turn the tights into one long run. So far I’ve only done this to tights that have this distinction, so no idea if it would work with a different brand.

Teacher told me that they would leave a strip of tights material to go between the 1st and 2nd toe, so I left a thin strip (I’d say around a 3/4 inch when the fabric is unstretched, but if I had to do it again I’d leave about twice that, for aesthetic reasons) when I cut off the toe section. I also cut off the heel, leaving a thin border of the material.

Top view. The stirrup-y thing (in toe socks, because there's no way I'm showing my ugly toes online LOL)

Top view. The stirrup-y thing (in toe socks, because there’s no way I’m showing my ugly toes online LOL)

And a side view of the heel

And a side view of the heel

And in shoes

And in shoes

As you can see, the ankle hole shows quite a bit of skin, and while the instep is covered, I think while actually dancing the top may come untucked (I couldn’t tell during class because I was wearing skintight legwarmers). So as far as performing or anything where a neat look is needed, these need some  work. But like I said, it was my first attempt!

Finding A Balance…

To change one’s mind is to grow – I heard that once, and hope that to “grow” implies to change towards the better…not talking about negative growth, or worse, some kind of exponential decay…

I consider myself a complicated person, and what makes me tick is complex. Things such as following tradition blindly, because it’s “the next step”, because everyone’s doing it – or wants to do it – or “because it’s pretty” alone are not what makes me spring into action at my wise(r) (not-so)-old age. In  fact, sometimes these things have the effect of creating  resistance, as I instinctivly clutch to my individuality  – sometimes to my detriment. I wonder, what would have motivated me? Perhaps If somone would have told me that it feels like you’re about to levitate, just take off in flight.

What on earth am I blabbing about? Well, um… I guess what I’m trying to say is… I sort of went en pointe.

I know, I know,, I said I was not going to go for it, and I sincerely meant it. I could have listed off any number of reasons why not: it was not even one of my goals when I started ballet; I’m not a pre-professional student; they’re so expensive (especially if I went to the dance store everyone recommends); it’s an ongoing commitment; it’s a pretty big risk considering I may not even be able to get up on pointe physically; my second toe is my longest, and tends to curl; if I fail (meaning not able to even go up) it’ll be so wasteful (both money and a sad pair of usused shoes sitting there); the list went on and on. I told myself that since it wasn’t like it had been a life long aspiration, I just wouldn’t bother with it… but I’m not gonna lie, the curiosity remained. (For the record, I was okayed for pointe by a teacher over a year ago, and I’ve been taking classes at the same frequency or more since then, so no worries about not being physically ready.)

But then, a friend let me try on her used shoes. The curiosity had been gnawing at me for some time by this point, and there was no way I was going to pass that chance up! So I slid them on, faced the wall, got into first position, and pushed up into a releve… and kept pushing… higher and higher. I didn’t get over the box, I don’t think, but that feeling of being suspended up higher than ever before as I pushed, I coudn’t stop thinking about it. I obsessed over the next time I would get to try her shoes, decided that next time – hopefully there would be a next time! – I would go for a balance. The first time I had been so excited that I forgot to even try for a balance.

Waiting was agony. I continued to replay the feeling in my head. My resolve to not go for my very own pair weakened. I realized that if I’m just going to be obsessing over it in my head without giving it a chance, well, that was just going to set me up to be miserable and bitter.  Obsessing over whether I should or not and the implications was turning into one huge waste of energy! Something I struggle with immensely in life is moderation, and not knowing when to stop – it can manifest as either perfectionism or an addictive personality. It can be such a problem that I often err on the side of abstaining (‘perfect abstinence is easier than perfect moderation’, a quote that I wouldn’t say I live by, but refer to often – it’s saved my life. Without it, I would not have ever even found dance. I remember life before and it was a dark place of hopeless despair) to simplify things. But I have to understand that if I do this once, my head – or reality – will not implode. If I make this somewhat selfish decision (selfish because there are other financial obligations that we have, and I can’t put this one into the category of “needs”) my life will not turn into a rampant orgy of mindless consumerism. If I decide to go for this, it will be a true test of my commitment to…everything. (Don’t expect this to make sense to anyone, lol. Why can’t a purchase of shoes just be a purchase of shoes?! yeah, yeah…)

I figured out ways to tell myself that it will be ok. I’ll try to get cheap (relatively speaking) shoes, I’ll be extra careful during the fitting to make sure I’m getting a pair that I can tolerate (I realize trying them on and doing a few releves may not compare to using them regularly – or it might since I’m planning on sticking to barrework for now, and for a while) and not let the salesperson bully me into the wrong pair. I’ll take good care of them, let them dry out between uses. I’ll go at my own pace, not have any unrealistic goals or expectations. I did some research, much that I still remembered from back before I’d decided this wasn’t even an option.

So Boyfriend Husband said ‘let’s go get you those shoes right now’! And by total coincidence I ran across this coupon I had to a dance store, so that about settled it.  Once at the dance store, I headed over to the floor display of shoes, grabbed some that looked big enough, and was in the process of trying on the second option (the first was much too big, the profile was too high), when a salesperson came over. I explained that it was my first pair ever, and hopefully showed that I knew what I was doing by discussing things such as the profile of the shoe and width of the platform (research!). He brought out different pairs of shoes for me to try, and I went up to the little barre to try them out.

As it happened, the second shoe I tried (Freed, didn’t get the model) fit great, but since my feet are apparently almost a whole size in discrepancy from each other (of course something like this would happen, like it’s not bad enough my second toes are the longest) it would have meant buying two different pairs. I don’t know why my mismatched feet mattered so much with the Freeds compared to the other shoes I tried. All I know is that with these the larger pair fit my left foot perfectly, but was falling off my right, and the smaller pair fit my right, but I just could not get my left foot into it (it was a total cinderella stepsister moment). With the other pairs of shoes I tried, the difference between the feet felt more subtle,

Speaking of which, what else did I try? Immediately after the Freeds I tried this horrible pair with a narrowd platform that felt slippery like rollerskates (didn’t catch the name, just wanted them off!), then several models of Blochs (including the ones I ended up getting, the European Balance), and then, per my request, Gaynor-Mindens. When I first came to the decision of getting point shoes, I strongly considered GM’s because of the durability of the shank. However, I was skeptical from the beginning, because I know one of my favorite – and trusted – teachers is not in favor of beginners/first timers starting pointe in these shoes, and I’d heard that they sort of “prop” you up on pointe. Whether this is true or not I didn’t get to find out because as soon as attempted to put  on the first pair my feet were like ‘No! These are not the right shoes!’, it was that much of a reaction. So the guy brought me a second, slightly bigger pair so I could at least walk over to the barre and try them. So I did, but they were still really uncomfortable and they hurt. I mean, i realize this is not supposed to be comfortable, but since I knew how the other pairs of shoes felt I didn’t want to settle for more pain than necessary. So I got the Blochs, since getting two different sized pairs of Freeds to match the mismatched feet would have been unthinkable…now I’m wishing I wrote down the model in case – if these Blochs are worn until shoe-death, of course – I do stick with this long enough to feel like I’ll use both shoes of each pair. And sometimes the dance store runs buy-one-get-one-half-off sales…far off in the future, of course.

The shoes!

The shoes!

 

To keep costs down (yes, we got the Ouch Pouch – an additional $20), I decided I would reuse the elastics from an old pair of ballet slippers. Now, as for the ribbons, I kind of ran into a problem. We hit up the fabric store and not only is nylon thread extremely hard to find, but all the ribbons were the wrong color. So much selection, so many colors and not one of them was close to ballet pink. Don’t want to use the “c” word here, but it seems really odd to me that the only way to get ribbons that color is through a dance store (or online, but still, through a dance brand). Well, what am I going to do? Use what I found!

Sewing the ribbons was not fun. I don’t care how much the irritating lady in the video chirped on about it being a rite of passage, and blah blah, I just wanted to get them ready to wear. Still, it took m over two hours to get them sewed.

Pinki really wanted to help...

Pinki really wanted to help…

So that was my story of how I came to find myself on pointe. For what it’s worth, I will say that I don’t regret this. Just doing slow eleves in parallel and first at the barre is amusing me for now. As this is all uncharted territory, I don’t have any goals yet; I know it may be a very long time, if ever, before I can actually dance in them. It’s weird, but I don’t see it as the ‘next step’ in ballet so much as a different, but related, hobby. I’m still very enthusiastic about dancing on flat shoes, while at the same time I’m enjoying the feeling of just pressing up onto pointe. And holding yourself up there, every muscle engaged – it’s such a workout! At a minimum, I’ll get stronger and my releves on flat slippers should improve.

With a tube sock over the shoes to keep them clean

With a tube sock over the shoes to keep them clean

 

Mini-Review: Dance Paws and Capezio Ultra Soft Tights

I’m gonna do a 2-in-1, because if I wait to write these mini-reviews separately it probably won’t get done…

Anyways.

Dance Paws, in the package

Dance Paws, in the package

First up, Dance Paws. These are my first pair of Modern dance “shoes”, or as it says in the package “protection for the bare foot”. While I made it through a year of beginner modern without anything like this, I did notice toward the end of my second session that there was just no way for me to turn more than a half turn in my bare feet since my feet stick to the floor. I tend to have very ‘gummy’ skin, and even if I build up a callus it almost immediately peels off before it gets thick enough. (And I’ve seen, backstage, the aftermath of someone’s callus cracking  *insert horrified face*). As I tend to be resistant of buying new stuff unless I absoutely need it (‘need’ being subjective, since obviously I’m not going to be eating them or living in them…), I made it through the modern classes just doing half turns and dealing with it. But for our performances there was going to be quite a bit of barefoot turning, and the least fun place for a meniscus tear would be on stage in the theater in front of everybody, so off to the dance store I went. I filed it under the ‘cheaper than knee surgery’ category…

That said, these are not cheap! Although they utilize much less material than ballet slippers, they cost over twice as much. Craziness! Especially because they look really simple, like the kind of thing anyone with a sewing machine can whip up in a half-hour, tops. Just a little bit of meshy material, elastic, and a suede (or imitation suede) sole.

Top view, bottom view

Top view, bottom view

Did they work? Yes, much better than I expected. I tried them on in the dance store, but it’s not the same. I tried balancing up on releve a few times, but you can’t really dance around at the store. And since it was cold in our rehearsal room, too cold for me to go barefoot, I didn’t get to  actually start dancing in these until our last dress rehersal already at the theater (which was surprisingly warmer than the studio). And once we started, I didn’t notice them at all. Since I find split-sole ballet slippers to be uncomfortable, I’d been worried that these would feel the same way, but they don’t, they’re much more comfortable. The sole doesn’t get in my way for balancing at all, my turns went well, everything was fine. So yes I would recommend these, though I don’t know how the other brands of modern shoes out on the market compare. (Since trying them on entails sticking your bare toes through the little toe holes, i don’t know if these are a case of you-try-it-you-buy-it. Seems pretty unsanitary otherwise…)

***

Capezio Ultra Soft tights

Capezio Ultra Soft tights

Next up, Capezio Ultra Soft tights. These were a recommendation from one of you readers about a year ago, when I asked about tights that were more durable and didn’t run after one wear (like those awful Theatrical brand tights…). Of the ones recommended, these were the only ones I found at the local dance store so I picked them up back then, but I’d been waiting until I needed a new pair (like a performance) to finally wear them.

In short, I love them! Right out of the package they felt much thicker than pretty much every other brand of tights I’ve tried (that would include Bloch, Theatricals, Body Wrappers, Natalie Dancewear). They fit pretty snug, and I got the size L/XL, so that’s one potential downside (not for me personally – a snug fit makes me feel like a superhero!). While being snug as far as the circumference of the legs (and I’ve posted my leg measurements before in my knee pad post – my legs are not on the larger side at all compared to regular people, apparantly huge in dancer terms), there is plenty of room as far as length, so perhaps sizing is based more on length? I was just glad I followed the height-weight chart in the back and didn’t try to squeeze into the S/M. I got the footed tights, but it’s possible the different styles have  different fit, so if i ever try out one of the other styles I’ll have to remember to update this.

As for the color, these are really pink. I know all pink tights start out life as the pinkest they’ll ever be, and gradually begin the process towards gray, but these did seem even more pink than my last new pair of pink tights (Theatricals). It’s a nice pink though, just a little startling at first.

Don’t believe me? Here’s some photographic evidence:

Clockwise from R: Capezio pink tights (new), Theatricals pink tights (new-ish, Theatrical and BodyWrappers Tights (very used)

Clockwise from R: Capezio pink tights (new), Theatricals pink tights (new-ish, Theatrical and BodyWrappers Tights (very used), feline friend

The Theatrical tights in the center are a pair that I had been saving since our performance last June and barely started wearing recently, so the color has not faded yet. I included the very used tights in the picture to show how grayish the pink tights get after lots of wears and washes. As youu can see, the pink of the Capezio tights is much more vibrant. If the color lasts through washes then these will be the perfect tights! However, I’m planning on putting them away for a  while and just wearing my older tights to class in the meantime in case I need new-looking tights for another performance.

And, just for fun, a ballet slipper comparison picture, featuring another feline friend.

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When they said “clean the floor with your shoes” for tendus they weren’t kidding…

There was just no way I could get those shoes clean without accidentally scraping pieces off them!

Mini-Review: Bunheads Gel Knee Pads

Making modern and contemporary possible for the aging dancer! Kidding… but some truth to it…

Bunheads Gel Knee Pads

Bunheads Gel Knee Pads

For the most part, when I think of kneepads I think of those big bulky white ones that we wore in junior high p.e. when playing volleyball. So when a dance classmate mentioned wearing kneepads during modern (and feeling much more confident about floorwork with them), I did get sad – and feel positively geriatric. But then I saw a different classmate wearing some that looked much more streamlined, and hope grew.

I searched online and apparently the item I was looking for was the Bunheads Gel Knee Pads. After calling my local discount dance store and finding out they don’t carry them (or any style of knee pad, which was surprising given how huge the store is), I called the local not-so-discounted dance store which did. Said not-so-discounted shop is actually quite close to home, so off I went.

The store carried two styles of knee pad, a bulkier type for around 10 bucks, and the Bunheads Gel Knee Pads for around $40. Yes, $40 for some knee pads! So about as much as my three favorite leotards and leg warmers put together. But…cheaper than a knee replacement, so I paid up, grumbling on the inside.

The view from inside

The actual knee pad part

I feel like I have to justify why I picked these out instead of the bulky ones for 1/4 of the price. Well, as the back of the package boasts, these are ‘the first gel knee pads made specifically for dancers’ and are supposedly able to be hidden underneath tights on stage, as well as don’t slip around or roll up. And while I’d have to say that they are visible under tights (I haven’t tried wearing two pairs of tights, but I may do that for the show) – picture below –  I wouldn’t  say they’re distracting. It doesn’t look like, hey that girl’s ready to go to the volleyball game right class! or anything like that. If I wear black leggings – well any actual leggings that are opaque, not tights – they are invisible. I’ll see if I get around to taking another picture to put up.

The store carried two sizes: S/M and L/XL. I got the L/XL and the first time wearing them they felt uncomfortably tight (after several wears they feel much more comfy). I was anticipating this, since some dance stuff tends to run small, which is why I didn’t even bother with the S/M. My legs are rather thin by “normal” standards, but by “dancer” standards they’re XL apparently. Measurements are 14″/35.5 cm circumference around knee, 16″/41 cm around the top of the knee pad band, for comparison. For length, I’m 16″/41cm from hip/greater trochanter to knee, 15.75″/40 cm from knee to ankle/malleolus. (The store had great customer service, as the shopkeeper let me take them out of the package before purchase so I could see what I was getting into. But if you have to buy online, just know they run SMALL)

So, do they work? Yes! I’m able to get on my knees and not be screaming in pain, both then and there and after. At first I doubted them and their effectiveness, and still played it really careful (and besides, this just takes care of my knees and there’s no padding to protect other delicates like my tailbone), but soon as I was feeling completely unhindered. My worries that I wouldn’t be able to continue doing anything that involved any floorwork at all melted away. I only wish I had discovered this product sooner (and, of course, if the price tag was slashed by at least half…).

Here are some truly awful pictures that show how the knee pads look once worn:

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Under ballet pink tights

Under ballet pink tights

I assure you they look much less lumpy from farther away.

My First Ballet Skirt

One of the most remarkable things about my ballet journey has been that I’ve met such an amazingly diverse group of people. We may not have anything else in common, but ballet is the common link that holds us together. Making friends is not easy for me (bad social skills and anxiety related) as I’ve mentioned once or a hundred times, so having the icebreaker of ballet has really helped me so far as interpersonal communication is concerned.

That said, there are drawbacks. For a person as annoyingly suggestible or impressionable (or whatever the word-which-I-don’t-know-and-am-to-lazy-to-scour-a-thesaurus-for) as me, it can mean that I often come close to feeling like I’m losing myself – those things that set me apart, that make me me.  Sometimes it’s seemingly easier to go with the group – even if it’s against your own beliefs – and then beat myself up about it afterwards, in solitude. I’ve always had an exceptionally hard time standing up for myself, and I find it really hard to say “no” to people, especially if I feel that my saying “no” will upset them (and then they won’t like me, and I’m already weird enough as it is that I don’t need to give even more reasons. Yes, I’m aware that made me sound like I’m in grade school, but if you can’t be honest on your own blog, where can you?…). Often, I put other’s interests before my own, and then end up feeling emotionally drained.

But – and this is a big but(t) (haha) – I’ve promised myself that I will work on it. And I have, little baby steps at a time. So what does this have to do with a ballet skirt? Plenty, as far as baby steps go.

For our upcoming show, we need to partially provide our own costumes (mostly consisting of a particular style or color of leotard, and I’m able to use ones I already have), except for the tutus which the school owns.  For one of the pieces, we need a skirt. Not actually having a ballet skirt previous to this, I started to stress about it. Some classmates began to discuss having custom skirts made just for the show, which I did not want to go for. The worst thing I could think of was spending all this money  and getting something new that I would only wear once and then relegate to the closet. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal to people – most people, perhaps – but it is to me, just one of my many “quirks”. Besides the ballet class budget is tight enough without factoring in any unnecessary expenses.

Inspiration struck. I  decided I would make the skirt, using my friend’s as a pattern. I hit the thrift store, and was fortunate to find what looked like a curtain, made of a similar sheer material as the skirt for about two bucks. Even though I have no sewing machine, I’m skilled (and patient, surprisingly) enough to be able to hand sew something together, especially when it’s a pretty straightforward project.

 

And it was fairly straighforward – I laid the curtain over the skirt, pinned it together around the perimeter, cut the curtain to shape, and sewed some black ribbon I had around the waist for the waistband. Easy, if not a bit time consuming.

 

To be fair, I’m not the best person at noticing details, but once it’s on I find it hard to tell the difference between the original version and mine (I actually can’t tell from the pictures which is which, though I do realize they look slightly different). My first handmade skirt ever – I’m pretty proud of myself. Also proud of myself for coming up with an outside-the-box solution and not letting myself get walked all over. I’d told myself I need to figure out better way of solving my problems (than giving in to pressure and then getting upset later) if I plan to continue ballet. (Not trying to sound like I’m picking on ballet, just that it’s the only activity I do that actually requires specialized clothing at times, so that tends to fuel my guilt. Long story, and beyond the scope of this blog…)

Anyway, yay, $2 ballet skirt!

Improvise

No, not the kind of improv done during Modern class, though that is fun too…

Some awful person ran off with one of my leg warmers (I took them off after class, could have sworn I put them in my bag, I had somewhere important to be (family emergency), then I get home and there’s only one leg warmer in there. Not to worry, the studio has a lost and found. Except I get there the next day -as I spent the rest of the previous day with my Dad at the hospital – and the leg warmer is nowhere to be found.) What kind of awful person takes things that are not theirs?  (That may be a rhetorical question)

Anyways, I had another class to go to and no way of keeping my legs extra warm. An idea struck. I remembered this old pair of pink leggings that I kept around that no longer fit. I’d been keeping them around on the hopes that I would fit into them again – not going to happen unless I want to lose all my newfound jumping power (muscles) – or if not to donate them to a local thrift store once I accumulated enough items to make the trip worth it.

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Pink leggings, not ballet pink but close enough

Instead, I cut the legs off from the gusset and improvised myself some leg warmers. They actually fit really nice and snug all the way up to a little over my knees – perfect leg warmer length. I wore them as is already, but I’m thinking of possibly hemming them so that the knit doesn’t begin to run.

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They come up to a good height mid-thigh without feeling like strangling my leg

Even if I do get another pair of dance legwarmers like the ones I had (which I feel so guilty about because I was so irresponsible as to put myself in the situation that someone could take them…) – and I might as the stirrup part really helps keep my arches warm during barefooted Modern class, and unfortunately warm arches are a necessity for me – these fit well underneath pants or leggings to keep me warm throughout my day.

Bonus: The gusset part that I cut off makes a great pair of warmup shorts (not pictured).

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The post would not be complete without showing my crappy turnout…