Ghillies are what Irish Dancers wear for their soft shoe dances. It is pretty crucial that these shoes fit very tightly to show off the contour of your foot. If they are too loose than judges will not be able to see if your foot is pointed or arched.
My American shoesize is usually 7 1/2, my first pair of soft shoes were Irish size 6 (equivalent to American size 8, I don’t remember how this happened). Way too big, my foot was lost inside them. So I went down a size for my next pair. Nope, still to big.
Long story short I’ve owned several pairs of soft shoes and not one has fit me properly. I mean, yeah, I could just go order yet one more size down and that would probably do the trick, but I’m getting really tired of shelling out $45 minimum for shoes. It is possible to temporarily shrink them with water and heat but by the end of your dance they’ve stretched back out.
So grab your seam ripper and a sturdy needle, I’m going to show you how to make your shoes smaller.
Please do not try this without parental approval! I don’t want to be responsible for children getting murdered by their parents because they cut up a hundred dollar pair of shoes!
The unaltered shoe heel.
First thing’s first, determine how much smaller you need your shoe to be. I could easily fit two fingers in the extra space in my shoe.
Look at all that room.
Here is the back of my shoe, a strip of leather was sewn over the main seam. Carefully pull the stitches out of this to reveal the big seam at the heel.
The back flap unstitched to reveal the main seam.
Pull those stitches out, opening up the back of your shoe.
The heel unstitched and laid flat.
Here’s the point of no return, find a sharp pair of scissors and carefully cut down the back of the shoe, following the existing shape. Cut just a tiny bit at first, going slowly and testing the fit. Take your time here and don’t make it too small.
When you’ve cut it to where it needs to be it’s time to sew that seam back up. Use thick thread and don’t stint on stitches, this shoe takes a lot of abuse. You will probably want to find a thimble and a pair of pliers to help get the needle through the leather. It wasn’t actually difficult on my shoe, the leather is fairly thin and soft, but after a while my fingers become super sore from pushing the needle through. Seriously, they hurt as I type. Save yourself the pain and use thimble and pliers.
Once you have sewn the heel closed (hopefully trying it on as you go) it’s time to put the supporting strip back in place. Secure it with some glue first so that it’s not moving as you try to sew it.
Sewing the back strip back into place. I made use of the holes that were already punched in the leather from the previous stitches.
The altered shoe.
I don’t have a picture of the shoe on me but I have since worn them to dance class and the alteration made all the difference. I *actually* have a point! They fit much better and feel nice and sturdy, I will keep an eye on my stitches though, ‘cuz it would be just my luck to have a stitch pop during a show 😉