How to Make an Irish Step Dress

Written by chrystal mahan
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How to Make an Irish Step Dress
Irish Barbie (, photobucket)

The Riverdance and Lord of the Dance made a lasting impression around the world. With its Celtic roots and fast-paced footwork, it is easy to see why. Irish step dance class enrolment is at an all-time high. You have searched and searched for the perfect dress, but you just cannot find the colours and patterns you want. Irish step dresses can be quite costly, and for good reason. The time and effort that goes in to one is all-consuming but the reward is monumental. It only seems fitting that a complex dance have a complex costume, you can make your own, exactly the way you want it.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Irish step dress pattern
  • Scissors
  • White cotton
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric
  • Fusible webbing
  • Tracing material
  • Tracing paper
  • Steam iron
  • Printer

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  1. 1

    Plan out your step dress colours, fabrics and designs. Take some time on this to get the right blend of Irish tradition and something that suits you.

  2. 2

    Visit a website like Irish Threads, Dancing on Eire or FeisDress for your pattern (see Resources). Take the measurements of the dancer to determine the size of pattern you need.

  3. 3

    Make up a white cotton bodice. Give all seams at least a 2-inch allowance for adjustments.

  4. 4

    Mark the front of the bodice with a single notch and the back with double notches. The armhole in the front will have the single notch and it will match the single notch on the sleeve. The same goes for the back, with the double notches. Match the notches up correctly so that the sleeves do not go on backwards or on the wrong side.

  5. 5

    Fit the bodice to the dancer and make any adjustments. Keep this bodice, as it will later become the bodice lining.

  6. 6

    Draw out the design to be placed on the step dress. Take the design to your local copy shop so it can enlarge it to fit your dress. You can also use your printer and a program like Photoshop, if you have it. See Resources for sites with design ideas.

  7. 7

    Cut out the pattern pieces needed for the style of dress you're making. Some patterns are precut.

  8. 8

    Trace the pattern onto your tracing material. This will allow you to easily use your pattern again.

  9. 9

    Mark the seams and fold lines on the pattern pieces.

  10. 10

    Cut out the new pattern pieces and place them on the wrong side of the dress fabric and secure in place with straight pins. Cut out the fabric pieces and set aside.

  11. 11

    Draw out your design by hand first. Use tracing paper to trace your design onto your fusible webbing. Sew any material or sequins onto the non-adhesive side.

  12. 12

    Affix the adhesive side of the fusible webbing to your pattern pieces. Follow the fusible webbing instructions for attaching your design to the pattern pieces. Most require a steam iron.

  13. 13

    Sew a few stitches through your design to reinforce it. Zigzag stitch works best. This will ensure the pattern stays attached during dancing.

  14. 14

    Sew the dress together according to the patterns instructions, attaching the cotton bodice as instructed.

  15. 15

    Fit the completed dress to the dancer and make adjustments as needed.

  1. 1
    How to Make an Irish Step Dress

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid using more then three colours in your design.
  • Satin-backed dupion is a good choice as a step dress fabric, as it has the look of silk but it is less expensive and easier to work with.

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