Forum: Irish / Irish - Dressmakers & Costumers

Page:
Page 1 of 31 2 3

Irish - Dressmakers & Costumers
So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume? (karma: 43)
By Jitchiwahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2897, member since Tue Sep 03, 2002
On Tue Aug 02, 2005 04:09 PM
Edited by Jitchiwah (38272) on 2005-08-02 16:16:36
Edited by Jitchiwah (38272) on 2005-08-02 16:17:44
Edited by Jitchiwah (38272) on 2005-08-02 16:18:41 gosh darn it I forgot how to use HTML
Made sticky by Lirit (28370) on 2005-08-03 11:25:04

A lot of people like the idea of making their daughter's, or their own solo dress. While this can be a valid option for many who can sew, NEVER underestimate how much work a solo dress takes. Believe it or not, those dresses are expensive for a reason (and no, it's not just to line dressmaker's pockets).. they are labour intensive. And it's easy to go wrong.. the following are a few FAQs and various pointers/tips/advice for those thinking about making an ID dress.

<b>
What pattern should I use? Is the Simplicity pattern OK?</b>

General consensus between most dressmakers is to use the Irish Threads pattern. This is by far the best ID costume pattern commercially available. It makes up into an up to date styled dress with little or no alterations (just make sure you alter the lengths, as the bodice and skirt lengths tend to be out of propotion). It also comes with detailed instructions and email support.

The simplicity pattern is no longer avialable in stores, though it can be bought off Ebay. However, this pattern was designed as an ID fancy dress costume - not as a competition dress. Therefore it is NOT up to date in style, fit, or cut. The bodice is poorly styled. And don't get me started on the skirt! It IS possible to make a decent attempt at an ID dress using the Simplicity pattern, but only with a considerable amount of alteration first. Time and money would be better spent on buying the Irish Threads pattern.

---

<b>What fabrics are best?</b>

For a first solo that will depend a lot on what you are comfortable with and capable of sewing. Poly Shantung (aka Satin Backed Dupion) is a good option as it is a nice fabric that is quite easy to work with.. it is also one of the less expensive options, so makes a good trade off between cheap price and top notch fabric. Silk is also good, but needs to be backed with cotton interfacing.

A satin can be spruced up with one of many types of organzas and tulle overlays.

Avoid sewn sequins as a base fabric.. they are hell to embroider onto, hell to sew up, don't last great, and they are EXPENSIVE.. not good when there is a good possibility of needing to re-do something! Glitterball can be bought for a good price for a base fabric, but can also be difficult to embroider onto if you are not used to the stuff.

For applique, this will depend a lot on what you can sew. I used glitterball, lame and some sewn sequins on my first dress. Smooth fabrics like lame, satin, silk, metallic silk and organzas are all a doddle to get a good finish on when you applique. Glitterball type fabrics (including squares, diamonds, velour glitterdot etc) are a bit harder to get a smooth finish on, it can take a bit of practice to get used to how your machine and thread work with the fabric. Sewn sequins are by far the worst. expect sewuing to pop off left right and center, broken needles and snapping thread. You may also need to embroider twice to get a good finish.

With any fabrics for applique I would STRONGLY advise doing samples first. Take a piece of your base fabric, and use bondaweb to apply various shapes in your applique fabrics, then fire away.. play around with tension and stitch width and length, and see how you go.

----

<b>How much fabric do I need?</b>

This will depend on the size you are making. I typically buy around four meters for most teen sized dresses (a meter is 39.5"). If you have the Irish Threads pattern, use the pattern info for a guide on yardages. Then buy more than stated.. for a first solo it's wise. You have back up fabric all ready there and from the same dye lot should anything go wrong.

Buy roughly the same for the lining.. the extra goes towards bloomers and applique in that colour. For applique, you will typically need around a half to 1m of each colour depending on the design.. though again, getting more to start with gives the advantage of having extra should things go wrong.

------
<b>
Do I need a fancy industrial embroidery machine?</b>

No - I have made my first 30 solo costumes on a Janome XC33 - this was a decent mid range domestic sewing machine, which does straight and zig zag stitches and several variations on these, buttonholes, and 10 "Pattern" stitches. That's it.. no fancy chips, fandangled hoops.. just a good solid machine that does a darn good satin stitch. It cost £399, though I am CERTAIN there are more basic machines out there that would do just as good a stitch.

I also did one dress on my back up machine - an early 90's Basic brother machine that my mum bought at auction for £5!

Try the machine you already have.. set it to the zig zag stitch, then lower the stitch length as much as possible until you get a close satin stitch, but the machine still moves (you will be just above 0). You will need to lower your tension below the "normal" setting (about 4 on most machines). I set mine down to about 2. This makes sure that you will not have any bobbin thread pulling to the top of your fabric, and gives a smooth finish. It may take some messing about at first to get your settings right, but keep playing. Remember to test using fabrics and stiffenings that you will use in your costume, as these can have an effect on the settings you need.

If your machine just won't satin stitch and you are looking to buy a new one, go into a local,reputable dealer and try out machines. Ask if you can test with som of your own fabrics and threads and see what works. Ask their advice on a a good machine for satin stitch, but be aware some may push you towards certain brands. Ask to try out all the brands they stock, and try out machines from different price ranges.

------
<b>
Do I have to use proper Embroider Thread? How much do I need?</b>

It IS possible to embroider with normal sewing thread, but machine embroidery thread is designed for the purpose. It has a better sheen and smoothness to it so gives a better finish. But in the end.. it's up to you. If you are happy using normal sewing thread, and your machine is happy with it, then why not!

As for amount.. do not underestimate how much you will need! I buy my thread in cones of 1000m, and I can normally embroider around 1-1.5 dresses with a cone. Though that varies on the size of the dress and the design. If you are buying in small reels, buy lots and choose a thread you can get easily if you run out. I used a fancy black metallic thread for my first dress, and dreaded it as I kept using up all the spools that each local supplier had, and ended up having to buy from further afield. Pain in the backside!

-----
<b>
Where should I get fabrics from?</b>

Check local suppliers! Many normal fabric shops have some lovely fabrics that are suitable for Irish dance costumes. Especially these days with the huge variety of fabrics we're using.

As far as mail order goes...

White Lodge Fabric - One of my faves, put it this way, the know the sound of my voice! lol. A great range of metallic silks, organzas, patterns, glitterdots etc. Beautiful fabrics and great service.

Threads of Green - TOG now no longer make costumes, but Norma is still doing fabrics. Thank goodness! They have a great range of silks, metallic silks, organzas, lycras, glitterball, sequins etc etc. Their site is currently down but a new one with online ordering is being promised.. I can't wait!

Borovicks - In London. More lubbly jubbly fabwics! Great for sequins, etc. Ask for samples!

Jess Knight - I have nowhere near the volume as some places, but I do keep a small range of organzas, lycras, patterns etc and am planning to expand as funds allow.

I have loads of other links, too numerous to list here.. I may possibly post more at a later date, but if you want more suppliers, please feel free to PM me for more details.

---
<b>
Where can I get more info?</b>

First and formost, the Celtic Flame MB - voy.com . . . there's a lovely bunch of ladies who are a great resource. Scour the archives for plenty of info and tips, and also check out the FAQ board (there is a link at the top of the main board) for more details. They are also always onhand to answer questions, offer advice, or even just a shoulder to cry on when things aren't going great!
Where can I get a design from?

68 Replies to So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?

re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By irishdancebabe12 Comments: 238, member since Thu Dec 25, 2003
On Tue Aug 02, 2005 05:54 PM
what an awesome post! Took a lot of effort to think of all of these ideas... karma!
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11321, member since Sun Nov 23, 2003
On Tue Aug 02, 2005 05:59 PM
Jess, you're brilliant. Which is why you're making my dress, and I'm not.

Dani
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By SammyAnnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3547, member since Sun Aug 08, 2004
On Tue Aug 02, 2005 07:01 PM
My mom makes dresses too, and I know that all that info my mom agrees on! She uses the Irish threads pattern and hates to sew on sequins. This was a wonderful post, Jess. Dressmaking is hard work, and I respect anybody who can do it.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By KnotworkMolltPremium member Comments: 2804, member since Sat Oct 09, 2004
On Tue Aug 02, 2005 08:00 PM
Bravo! Thanks for taking the time to write all that! It shows the reality to those intrepid souls who might want to make a dress and also to those who shouldn't try.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By irish3509member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 886, member since Sat Dec 04, 2004
On Tue Aug 02, 2005 08:33 PM
i might want to make my own dress, but i know i don't have the experience ;) great post.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By twinkletoeschamp Comments: 1470, member since Sat Oct 12, 2002
On Wed Aug 03, 2005 07:11 AM
I don't think I could ever make my own costume. It would be made entirely of duct tape :O My friend came over to take a peek at how my dress was made last night and kept on making comments about the construction, while I just smiled and thought.. thank goodness that someone else made it for me.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Cluichmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2903, member since Sat May 10, 2003
On Wed Aug 03, 2005 08:52 AM
This should be made a sticky!!! KARMA!
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4094, member since Wed Jun 30, 2004
On Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:06 PM
It's a sticky!!! Thanks so much Jess for posting this! I've wanted to try making a dress for a while, but I didn't know where to start.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By celticfeetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 4050, member since Thu Sep 30, 2004
On Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:14 PM
I rated you up on that one! Thanks so much for that post!
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume? (karma: 2)
By GraNaRincemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5117, member since Sat Aug 23, 2003
On Wed Aug 03, 2005 02:41 PM
You forgot the blurb on how to properly train gnomes to do the work for you while you sip tea and watch reruns of Law and Order, duh.

I must plug my darling Ali--

Should you not be up to making the design of the dress yourself, a great designer to work with and some of the best prices around, DDN's own Aya!--thedarkwoods.net On that same note,

DO NOT "BORROW" DESIGNS FROM ANYONE! I know this should be obvious but it is a great insult to "borrow" designs, even little bits of one, from any designer be it some Mom in your dance school who drew her daughter's dress or Gavin. Your design may be "inspired" in terms of the style/layout of the design, but should you actually copy any part of it, or the specific way some shapes are laid out {come on, there are only so many ways to draw a diamond :)} you are stealing. Dressmakers talk and dresses get spotted at competitions around the world so if you're even tempted, imgine the shame of being chatted about as 'that stolen dress' on the voys and never being able to sell your dress later because of the controversy that surrounds it.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Fri Aug 05, 2005 07:51 AM
So can you get nice, cost effective poly shantung in an attractive shade of emerald green, canya canya canya?

Louise
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Jitchiwahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2897, member since Tue Sep 03, 2002
On Fri Aug 05, 2005 07:54 AM
Possibly.....

Though you never know what else I might managed to pull out of my little sleeves.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Fri Aug 05, 2005 09:30 AM
Do you have a cunning plan?

Oh wait, I get it. You're on the rob again!!!!

*Adopts faux comedy white-man-trying-to-be-black-man-accent*
Ya t'eif. Nahhhhhhh. *Sucks teeth*

Louise
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Jitchiwahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2897, member since Tue Sep 03, 2002
On Fri Aug 05, 2005 04:52 PM
I beg your pardon! I am NOT a teef! I'm not I'm not I'm not.

I just know there are some perty green fabrics that thee might liketh, which I would be BUYING (yes, buying, you know with MONEY).. but they ain't to 'spensive, so I mayaswell be robbin.

Though I may be totally wrong and you'll absolutely HATE them.. in which case, sure, you can have SB Dupion.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Sat Aug 06, 2005 03:01 PM
I have finished my order pack but since I won't actually be ordering for about a full year yet - I don't want to send it! What to do?! I am too afeared to post my ingenious ideas here in case other DDN members is teefs. But I'm all childishly excited! Bloody year. It better hurry up.

Oh and by the way - I was trying on my dress the other day because I was having thoughts of my arse growing big style and I reasoned that if I could still get into my dress then it wouldn't have grown. So - aside from the fact that I couldn't lift it over my head and was stuck in it until my boyfriend came home and then collapsed in laughter (I did cut a rather pathetic figure) - Missy, you left a PIN in it! A PIN!!! It was above the bar thing at the bit where the front skirt and bodice meet.

I could have bleeded all over my dress and then you would have been sorry.

I demand you grovel.

Louise
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Jitchiwahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2897, member since Tue Sep 03, 2002
On Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:00 PM
lmao!!!!

It's a LUCKY pin! I found one in my pink Eileen dress after I'd had it over a year. It was in the skirt.

And besides... the lining is black and red... blood wouldn'ta shown.

Send order pack. I need a lugh tonight. I have been clearing out my workshop **mock faints**.. one EVIL job!
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By wicklowgirl Comments: 24, member since Mon Apr 25, 2005
On Sun Aug 07, 2005 04:08 PM
thanks for the helpful, info :)


_wicklowgirl
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Mon Aug 08, 2005 02:05 PM
Okay, sending order pack. It's not as funny as the first one though, I've already worn out the armpit joke.

Louise
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Mcginghunnie Comments: 842, member since Sat Aug 14, 2004
On Tue Aug 09, 2005 05:09 PM
I if could actually figure out how to work my sewing machine, I would definetly attempt this!

Wonderful, wonderful post!
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By feismum Comments: 1300, member since Wed Jul 13, 2005
On Sat Aug 13, 2005 10:25 AM
OK, I've been inspired by everyone here!! Karma !
I've decided to have a go at this dress amking lark - I normally make dresses like Wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and party dresses for my daughter. I've even made a snow white dress for my neice, so I know the actual making of the dress isn't the issue. What I'm concerned about is the applique on the skirt.
Should it be embroidery like the traditional celtic work or do I need to do proper applique type stuff? I'm going to have a try at this in the next couple of weeks so I would appreciate some help.
So you want to make your own dress
By Colleen_Canberra Comments: 7, member since Fri Aug 06, 2004
On Fri Aug 26, 2005 06:01 AM
You can use any of the free designs on Colleens' of Canberra. There are also lots of tips and information about making your own dress. colleensofcanberra.com
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By RodneysGlory Comments: 1909, member since Wed Sep 14, 2005
On Fri Sep 23, 2005 08:57 PM
I know a few Irish dancedressmakers who started as wedding gown/bridesmaid dress designers. They already knew about some of the idiosyncrises of certain fabrics and they are used to labor intensive dresses. They're obviously not the same, but the transition has happened.

Thank you for your great post on how to make dresses. They are Much more work than they appear. I haven't made a current style solo, but I've done some easier ones and they aren't easy! I'll keep this post for future reference.
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Tue Sep 27, 2005 01:10 PM
*Ponders*

Jess, are you making your own wedding dress?
Jess, will you make MY wedding dress?

Louise
re: So you wanna make an Irish dancing costume?
By Jitchiwahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2897, member since Tue Sep 03, 2002
On Tue Sep 27, 2005 07:53 PM
Yes and no.

I think.

Mum & I are making it together probably.
Page:
Page 1 of 31 2 3

ReplySendWatchDraw