Irish dance dress – finished

A while back (read, half a year ago) I wrote a post about my plans on making an Irish dance dress for myself. It’s taken a while, but the dress is finally finished!

I drafted most of the pattern myself, with the exception of the sleeves for which I used a commercial pattern. Because of the low waist-line, there weren’t really commercial patterns which would fit the bodice.

The design of the dress started with this lovely fabric. Because I couldn’t make any of the traditional embroidery, I wanted a quite busy fabric. Irish dance dresses are usually very bright and meant to get attention on stage. This fabric is lovely, while standing out it’s still classy. As complementing colors I chose black (velvet) and old-pink.



This was the design. A faux-bolero of the rose fabric, a black velvet base, a dropped waist, a pleated skirt with the rose fabric at the bottom and pink accents.

Black velvet for the base, with a (faux) silk with velvet roses fabric for the bolero and old pink accents.

Black velvet for the base, with a (faux) silk with velvet roses fabric for the bolero and old pink accents.


After drafting the pattern (which was a pain, dropped waists are tricky!) I could cut out the fabric:


The sleeves


Cutting the velvet.

I lined the dress in black cotton and made the lining first to check the fit again. To make the skirt stand out a bit, I used tule. I still had a short tule skirt I bought a while ago and it was the perfect length to use as sewn-in petticoat. These were the base layers:


After this, I attached the outer layers of the bodice to the lining. (never mind the laundry behind the dress 😉 )


The next step was to attach the sleeves and the skirt. Especially the skirt was tricky. It was velvet lined in pink, and pleated so that it formed 6 layers in total. With the addition of the tule, it meant I had to sew 7 layers to the 2 layers of bodice and lining. It took a long time fiddling with fabric, but came out all right! With the skirt and sleeves done, it was time for decoration. I tried plain strips of pink along the bolero, but it was too plain, so I found some pearly strings and decided to decorate. I then spent a long time hand-sewing the pearls to the strips and the strips to the dress, but it looked pretty!

20141011_144023 20141011_144125 (1)


This is what it looked like after attaching the strips. I also sewed one string of pearls around the sleeves. At this point, I decided that I also needed something to separate the skirt form the bodice. I tried one string of pearls, but that was still too plain, so more pink with pearly swirls it was!


And then it was done! I attached a cameo brooch to the neckline as extra decoration.