Thursday, August 6, 2015

Confessions of a Real Dance Mom #3...Emergency Pointe Shoe Cleanup...

Sometimes I think I'll never get the hang of being a Dance Mum.

As one of seven children, the privilege of extra curricular activities escaped me.
As a Mum of three boys before being blessed with a daughter, I know more about Baseball and Basketball and Bowling than I do about Ballet. You'd think after 13 years of Dance though, I'd have got the hang of things but nooooo.....not the case.
The Diva had a Ballet exam yesterday. A big deal one now that she's 15 years old. No more could she get away with a pretty smile and a tutu. This was serious stuff. If you failed one section, you failed the whole thing kind of serious.
So....she's done these before and I just knew that new or newish ballet shoes are part of the game. I was onto it. I was proud of how on-to-it I was. We'd bought new Pointe and Demi-Pointe shoes four weeks ago. Plenty of time. Thing is though, that the jolly things come without ribbons attached. We Dance Mums get to do this for our darlings...can you hear the gnashing of teeth here?
Her Pointe shoes truly were had it, so I sewed the ribbons on those straight away. Her Demi-Pointe shoes were not so bad. As in not hanging off her feet in tatters yet. Good enough, so I left the task of stitching ribbons on those for another day. And another. And another. And so on, until finally, the day before the exams, I finally got the darned things stitched.
So she wears them that night to her final rehearsal before exam, and blow-me-down if she can't do a Pirouette in them because they're not softened up. Pirouettes are a mega part of the now-less-than-24-hours-away exam. My fault apparently. Like didn't I KNOW that she needed to wear them in, and soften the toe-thingy up?? Um. No. I didn't know. Could someone (SHE) not have mentioned this before now???
Cue panic.
We slept. I tossed and turned and dreamt of daughters failing ballet exams due to crappy shoe-stitching Mothers. Sigh.
I got up early, determined to find a solution. Having ascertained that the old shoes would have to do, I set about trying to find a way to clean them. All methods required things I didn't have, or needed time for them to dry. They're satin remember. And satin marks when wet too. Eventually I realised that Google was just toying with me as the beast it is, and set my mind to find another way.
Here's what they looked like at the start. Not at all like the pretty ones in the picture at the top of this post, right? Definitely in the tattered and embarrassing category.
Light bulb moment. Magic Eraser. Have you heard of them? Block of spongy white stuff used to remove marks from walls and other grungy things. Magic Eraser it is. Patiently and carefully mopping at the really dirty areas and trying not to wet them too much, I managed to remove most of the surface dirt. I also used a tiny pair of sharp scissors to trim all the loose threads, and a small artists paintbrush and some craft glue to stick down the bits of satin that were flapping around looking untidy.
I'd seen a method of cleaning using Baby Powder, but this wasn't recommended as it makes the shoes slippery. Baby Powder...slippery....yes of course.
What's like Baby Powder, but isn't....
Cornflour...Cornstarch...whatever you call it where you are. Used for thickening sauces.
But it's white. What to do?
Loose face powder, mixed with the cornflour, that's what.
Teaspoon of cornflour, bit of face powder, check the colour match. Done.
I then used an artists brush to liberally dust the shoes with the powder mixture, tickling the powder into the satin well. I let them sit a while...don't know seemed the right thing to do.
Then I carefully and gently dusted the excess powder off.
The final touch was to use a pure silk scarf to 'polish' them up a bit. Again, it just seemed a logical thing to do, and it worked.

They're not perfect, but at least they look respectable and compared with the filthy tragedy that is used Demi-Pointes Shoes at the top of this post, they're not all bad, and now, it looked like someone cared enough to tidy them up.
She was happy to wear her old-faithfuls in preference to the naughty-newbies and came out of her exam beaming widely. So I think the examiner excused her lack of shiny new demi pointe shoes and was too dazzled by her dancing to care anyway.
Look, this is a last minute emergency exercise. They clearly do not look like 'new'. But if, like us, you've found yourself in a panic, you can do worse.
If I had to do this again, I'd probably add some white cake decorating pearl dust (which I had and didn't think to use), not much, just a pinch, to the powder mix to give the satin a bit of gleam. Alas that thought didn't occur to me until later and it probably didn't matter. I'm off to try that now though!
From one Dance Mum to another....I hope this helps you out of a tight spot. We love our dancing...oh yes we do ;-)


  1. Mimi, I totally understand the whole "but mum" thing. With DD#2 it was buying swimming goggles at the last minute and hoping they would fit, and not fall off during a competition. I was truly grateful she decided not to try out for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, my brain wouldn't have coped with the 4.30am starts lol, as well as buying the correct sized goggles, caps and bathers.

    1. Ah Maggie...yes swimming. Another madness of a different! At least ballet doesn't start at 4am! Mimi xxx

  2. Those magic erasers are wonderful - when we had our place up for sale in Melbourne the sign was vandalised - someone had left their mark on it in permanent marker - or so they thought - I was out there with the magic eraser and it was gone in a flash, no damage to the sign either.

    I failed miserably as a dance mom when I told DD's then teacher that she could ring me when the child with the school sores was either better or no longer attending.



    1. I'll stash that piece of info away for another time Lynette. They are brilliant things aren't they! I laughed at your stint as Dance Mum. I've had some corkers too, but we're still there. Mimi xxx

  3. Hi Mimi, thank you so much for your recent visit and comment you left on my blog, Victorian Wanna Be, and so glad you have decided to follow me.
    Have a great rest of your week,

    1. Hi Gina. No problem. Your blog is lovely! Mimi xxx

  4. Mimi, I started ballet when I was four but gave it up when I was a teen. Do they still darn 'toe shoes' as we used to call them? I can remember my mum doing that. Your girl must be pretty good to be doing well in her exams at this stage. Good on her!

    1. Nanna Chel, darning sounds like a downright sensible idea. But no, I've never seen anyone do it. Unfortunately! Yes we'd like to think The Diva is a not half bad little dancer. She does it for the love though...not with the expectation of becoming a prima ballerina. I think that's healthy :) Mimi xxx

  5. Oh, yes, those years of ballet. I am a bit relieved that my 15yo quit ballet last year! However I am forever proud of her because for the last two years of ballet she sewed her own ribbons on. Such a star!

    1. Sewed her own ribbons on! Maternal success Jo! Mimi xxx

  6. You. Are. A Lifesaver! Thank you! Recital's coming up, and funds aren't conducive for a new pair. This will help greatly!

    1. I am so glad it's helped someone other than us! It won't make them look new, but it will make them look cared for. Mimi :)


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx