Irish dance enjoys global popularity, and the competitions can be very intense. The competitiveness extends beyond the dancers themselves to the dress designs as well. Because of this, the dresses can get expensive quickly. Making an Irish dance dress is an alternative to purchasing a ready-made one, and making it can help keep costs contained while still being able to have a custom dress. The basic dress pattern is fairly standard. It is the embroidery and embellishments that takes the most time.
Decide on the basic colour and fabric of the dress. This is what the dress itself will be made of. Embroidered appliques and other embellishment come later, but they do need to be considered at this point. Make sure all the colours work together.
Sew the dress according to pattern directions. Be sure to fit it to the dancer as the work progresses. For instance, as the bodice of the dress is completed, make sure the dancer can move freely while the bodice is on. Have her raise her arms to make sure the bodice is not too tight around the upper arm, restricting movement. Once the skirt is attached, check hem length and evenness. After the zipper is in, try the dress on the dancer again and see if there are any areas that need adjustment.
Lay out the dress and begin placing the embroidered designs on the dress. Pin them in place, so that they can be easily moved if necessary. The embroidery can go all the way around the dress on the skirt, be on just the front and back panels of the skirt or on the bodice of the dress. Sleeves can also be adorned as a way of continuing the pattern and overall effect of the dress.
Pin everything into place so that it is ready to be attached. If the embroidered pieces do not come with fusible web already on them, trace the design onto the paper side of the fusible web. Then cut out the web, peel off the paper and re-pin it to the dress.
Sew the embroidered pieces into place with a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. The stitches do not have to be close together, but they do need to hold the design onto the fabric. Use thread that matches the embroidered piece.
Use the iron and fuse the embroidered pieces into place. This, in conjunction with the zigzag stitching, will keep the embroidery securely fastened to the dress. Use the heat setting recommended by the fusible web or embroidery manufacturer to set the pieces.
Rhinestone, sequins or other embellishments can also be added to enhance the embroidered designs.