Saturday, November 21, 2009

Finished "Water" Irish Dance Solo Dress

I'm done! Yeah! I'm still alive (barely). After a week of tough work, I managed to finish my dress at 12:30 am. Now I am completely exhausted (and loosing my hair due to the flu, sleep deprivation and Stress), but I'm happy.

Of course, as with any projects, some things had to go wrong. Look at what happened to my old faithful Singer Stylist 522:

Get Well Soon, Singer Stylist 522

Dear old sewing machine: you were born in the 70's, you survived the fire at my aunts in the 90's and you held for most of this project. I love you very much and I hope I can get you repaired (Oh daddy...?!).

Thankfully, I own another sewing machine, one of those newer computer controlled ones (that goes beep-beep whenever it thinks it detects a problem - enough to drive a seamstress crazy!), so I managed to finish my dress. Can you imagine if I had had to finish it by hand? Yeah right, like that would have happened. I would have worn my old dress instead!

I know you're dying to see the dress, so without further ado, here it is:

"Water" Irish Dance Solo Dress - Front

"Water" Irish Dance Solo Dress - Side

"Water" Irish Dance Solo Dress - Back

So, what do you think (other than the cape needs pressing)? Be honest.

Well, not to sound rude, but I don't care what you think. I am extremely proud of my work. I can't wait for my fellow dancers to see it tonight to get their comments.

If you go back to my original drawing, you might notice a few little differences: I've added a diamond shaped quilted piece to the bodice design because I just thought it looked better, the cape is two-toned instead of just purple (I was suddenly inspired on night) and there is no crinoline. I couldn't find Organza in the right purple when I went shopping and there are so many details, it looks great without it. But I might add the crinoline one day, who knows?

Now for the fun of it, here are a few statistics about this dress:
  • There are 555 individual pieces that make up that dress. Than is counting every single piece of fabric, lining and fusing. For instance, each of the blue panels 14 quilted pieces, each of which has a layer fusing (that makes 28 pieces); then there is the blue velvet, the blue Glitterdot and five layers of fusing for a total of 35. Multiply that by nine and... You get the idea.
  • I used approximately 2.5 km of silver thread for the satin stitching. That's right, 2500 meters of thread. No wonder my poor old Singer decided it needed a break!
  • I used nine different fabrics, including lining fabrics. Half of them were leftovers I found while looking through my stash. The blue velvet was originally bought to make Arwen's Arch Dress, but after I changed my mind about using it for that project, I made myself a dress for Christmas a few years ago instead; I therefore consider it a leftover. The turquoise Liquid Lamé I bought at Walmart about five years ago to make Irish Dancing dresses; up to now, I have used it to make a Cyber Goth bustier (which is cut, but not assembled yet). The silver Glitterdot was also bought to make Irish Dance dresses, then I forgot about it and I found it in my Stash before leaving for the fabric store. The purple Turkish Satin is a leftover from an elvish dress made for my Halloween 2005 costume. The blue cotton used for lining the bodice is a leftover from an Italian Renaissance inspired dress I made for my role as Cendrillon in Les Héros de mon Enfance back when I was in CÉGEP (December 2000). The black tulle and skirt lining were leftovers from school projects. So basically, all I had to buy was the light blue, the royal blue Glitterdot, lots of thick non woven fusing and a zipper.
  • This was my first original design for an Irish Dance Dress and I am quite proud of it (© Gwenyver).

I would love to tell you exactly how much time I spent making this dress, but the truth is, I have no idea. One thing is for sure, if you would like to commission a dress that complicated from me, expect to pay at least 1500$ because that is what I believe it is worth. (I would be happy to take commissions, really!)

And now I'm off to get ready for the show, and tonight, once I come back from the party, I intend to SLEEP!


  1. Just passing through your blog while looking for something else online, I happened upon this series about the making of this dress. It's great! I used it to show my kids (U11 and U15 in Irish Dance) how your dress moved from concept to an actual finished piece. I think it helped them "get" the process of moving from what's in one's head to a drawing on paper to a finished 3 dimensional item (although there's still that entire "how does it move on stage" business to contend with -- dance dresses aren't static works of art, are they).

  2. I'm glad you liked it. True, it is not static, but all I can tell you for now is how I felt dancing in it: terrific. I felt like a Prizewinner (and I'm just in Novice). Good luck to your kids in their next Feis!