Re-Making an Irish Dance Dress

Our lovely and talented friend Kara Markley (of the band Lone Raven, and Official FrenzyGal inductee), was competing in her first Irish Dance Feis at the Dublin Irish Festival in August. She was also performing with her band several times in the same weekend. She contacted M for help with converting a child’s Merida costume into her dance dress.

Child's Merida costume

The appeal of the Merida costume was a specific chunk of fabric used in the skirt that was a gorgeous teal colored tulle covered in glittery tonal Irish knot work. The goal was to turn that skirt (Kara is a very petite lady) into something she could dance in and wear on other occasions (maybe even on stage with her band). After several FB convos and a Skype video, M asked Kara to just mail the dress to her and she would see what she could do.

M was apprehensive, but Kara gave her editorial and design control over the conversion, which made it easier to let her imagination fly and experiment. In completely disassembling the skirt to rescue the fabulous fabric, the skirt was completely redesigned with a black satin base and black lace layers that really made the aqua fabric pop. The skirt was a new challenge because it incorporated pleats and an elastic waistband, not things that usually end up together. It turned out smashingly, if we do say so ourselves.

Once the skirt was done, the discussion turned to what was she going to wear on top? Kara sent M a photo of a belt she liked and M happened to have some black leather scraps the right size to make the front of a wide elastic belt that laced up the front. M also happened to have some ribbon that was the perfect shade to match the skirt and worked really well for the lacing.

Detail of the fabric from the merida costume


The top was still an issue and M took it upon herself to make a jacket, that would match and be usable separately – because what is better than one outfit? An outfit that can be broken up and worn in many ways! Using the same satin and the same lace as the skirt, M made a 3/4 sleeve jacket of the lace overlaid on the satin. Up close, it almost looks like brocade, but it isn’t. That was a fun, and completely unexpected, trick! The jacket was lightweight enough to not bake Kara under the stage lights, but still sturdy enough to stand up to wear in other conditions.

M received the original skirt on a Thursday, worked all weekend, and shipped the whole outfit out to Kara on Monday, then anxiously awaited the phone call when Kara received the package. There is always that fear when you have completed a project that the client will hate everything about it. Thankfully this was no the case! Kara LOVED it! It fit her perfectly and she ended up wearing the whole outfit for the feis and the skirt with a tank top for her band performance the next day.



Who would have thought something as simple as a child’s princess costume would inspire such a collaboration? Also, never count out the odd places you can find your materials.

2 Responses to “Re-Making an Irish Dance Dress”

  1. Hermiliesmithh Says:

    Wow ! The costume is just amazing and the color of the dress is also fabulous. Love to wear this dancing costumes.

  2. Frenzy Gals Says:

    Thanks! I am proud if it. The color was all Kara’s idea. I am looking forward to making her another dress this year! – M


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