My History – Celtic Dress Design

In April 2008, I’ve moved out from Poland to Ireland with my husband and 1.5 year old son. I didn’t know the language, I had trouble communicating during shopping in the store. Therefore I couldn’t look for a job in my learned profession. I’m a Dress Technician by education. I graduated from a five-year school, where I learned the basics of designing, constructing clothing, modeling clothing patterns as well as cutting and sewing. When my English reached a satisfactory level, in 2012 I decided to look for a job as a tailor. In my surroundings there were no vacancies in this profession. That’s why I decided to organize my work just by myself. I’ve printed business cards and then spread them through the local stores. From time to time someone called and came to me with minor tailoring corrections. My clients were mostly my friends, thank you guys.

When and how it all started?

My story of Irish Dance Costumes began in March 2013. It was the first time when I saw an Irish dance costume. Sequins were very fashionable at that time. It is surprising that at the time when I’m writing this article, sequins are back in fashion again. It is so in the world of fashion, that fashion comes through full circle and the materials that were fashionable 7 years ago, today are also fashionable.

I remember the day it all started. Sarah called me and asked if I could make an Irish dance costume for her daughter Emily. Honestly, I had no idea what she was talking about until she came and brought a beautiful pink costume with silver inserts, to show me the design. I agree without the slightest hesitation, it was a challenge for me. Sarah has thought of almost everything. She provided me with all the materials I needed to make the costume. There was a sequin material, pink and silver hologram and white satin for the lining and pink satin to finish the costume with a trim. Back then the stiffening of the suit looked different than it is now.

Fascinated by this challenge, almost immediately I got down to my work. It was not easy because my youngest daughter was only 2 weeks old. I had to use every spare moment while little Sylwia was sleeping and the older 2.5-year-old Olivia was playing with her 6-year-old brother. It was not easy, but within a few weeks my Irish dance dress was ready. Sarah and Emily were delighted, and so was I.

Influenced by this experience, I was looking for more info about the history of Irish dance. I found out that most of the traditional Irish dance costumes were embroidered by hand. Modern at that time costumes were decorated by computer embroidery. I decided to take a closer look at this topic. I was interested in computer embroidery. I was particularly impressed by the embroiderers available on the market at that time. I was convinced that an embroidery machine with a 35×50 cm embroidery field would be sufficient, which later on turned out to be a wrong assumption. My new embroidery machine has a 120×50 cm embroidery field and this is the optimal embroidery field tailored to my needs.

My first embroidery machine!

In 2015 I bought my first embroidery machine. I saved my money for a long time to be able to buy it. In the meantime, before my embroidery machine has been delivered, I made 4 more costumes that were not embroidered. All decorative elements were finished with a trim. It was very time consuming. The end result was worth every minute that I spent creating these costumes.

The day of the delivery of the embroidery machine has finally arrived. I’ve never seen such a large machine before. Fun fact, I thought so until the day I bought my current embroidery machine. Coming back to the topic, so it came and was at my house. My husband helped me to assemble it and so the testing started…

Well, maybe it was a little different. Don’t ask me why, because I’m still laughing today. I was convinced that since an embroidery machine needs a thread like a sewing machine, it should work on the same principle. In a way, it is so in terms of tying a stitch but only in this. With the sewing machine, I decide what the stitch direction will be. In the case of my wonderful embroiderer, it was not like that and it was quite logical, but somehow I didn’t foresee this. For about 2 months I was walking around my embroidery machine and I can say that I was afraid that I would spoil it.

In the end, I have dared. I was pissed off because it couldn’t be like that any longer, I have been waiting so long for this machine, I saved my money to buy it, and now it was just standing and getting more and more of dust. By trial and error, I started to gradually test this miracle. I think if anything could have gone wrong, I admit that it did. But thanks to that experience I’ve learned how to deal with many difficulties. I’ve tested the embroidery machine for a long time using the built-in alphabet, so I embroidered names and surnames. As you can easily guess, the Irish dance costumes are not decorated with lettering. They are decorated with wonderful, fancy floral patterns, Celtic motifs and patterns inspired by the Celtic style.

To embroider such a pattern, the machine needs a file where everything that is going to be embroidered, is designed in an embroidery design program. Then it was black magic to me, I had no idea how to do it. I realized that the embroidery machine is only one piece of the puzzles.

Embroidery design program

Another, and actually the most important is program for designing embroidery patterns. I was looking for more info about what program I should buy. It’s hard to decide what you need when you don’t know it. There were many expensive programs on the market and many cheaper ones so another considerable investment was getting ready.

I found one that could be downloaded and used for a trial period. It wasn’t easy, but by trial and error, I learned how to use it. There was a 6-month license option which I used at the beginning. After 6 months, I’ve bought the full version of this software.

Back in 2015, I designed my first embroidery patterns in this program, which later on decorated my first Irish dance costume. I was so proud of myself. In 2016, I made another Irish dance costume and it was decorated with embroidery that I designed myself. But all the time I felt like I could do it better. Tutorials available on youtube are not the same as specific training conducted by an expert. I’ve realized that I won’t learn everything by myself and that I should learn from the best.

Professional courses

In August 2017, for the first time in my life, I took part in a course on the use of an embroidery machine and designing embroidery patterns. I chose the company where I’ve bought software for designing embroidery patterns and where in the future, although I did not know it then, I’ve bought my current embroidery machine.

At that time, I dreamed about it. I had to wait 2 years for this dream to come true. I remember how delighted I was with this course. Within 6 hours, it turned out that what I was doing intuitively, was actually the correct action, and the mistakes I had made could be easily eliminated.

I also received answers to all of my questions, believe me, there were many of them. I have been trained in the use of an embroidery machine, embroidery techniques and designing in a program for designing embroidery patterns. I got to know all the possibilities that my software had. At one point during the course, our trainer showed us the alphabet in the program and said that we will do it this way because we have an alphabet ready to use. He mentioned that professionals can design the alphabet themselves.

Then I knew that this was not the end of the training and that now I would be looking for someone who is such a professional and who will also teach me how to professionally and perfectly make embroidery patterns, as well as possible. I decided to practice a lot to make my patterns look really perfect. However, for this to happen, I knew that I needed more valuable tips not from the program operation but from the techniques of designing embroidery patterns.

Course of perfect embroidery patterns 

I was looking for and found the best trainer on the polish market, who is dealing with designing embroidery patterns professionally and has experience on the European market. This trainer trains both beginner and intermediate embroiderers. I decided to train in polish language because it is my first language and it was easier for me to understand all the detailed issues. At that time, my English was not impressive.

The training took place in April 2018. During the training, I received the knowledge that I’ve expected. I’ve also learned that if I want my embroidery designs to be perfect, I should change my current software to a higher-end one. I knew that another investment was waiting for me.

Beginning of Margaret’s Dresses Alterations

Meanwhile, in July 2018, I opened Margaret’s Dresses & Alterations. I was able to help my clients on a larger scale. In a short time I started to specialize in alternation of the dresses for special occasions such as wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and communion dresses and of course Irish dance costumes. With my approach to customer service and attention to every detail, I have gained many satisfied clients who recommend my services to this day. I have designed and made many dresses as well. I used my embroidery skills to create the laces which later on I used to my dresses.

Since I opened this business, a lot has changed in my life. I have benefited from many local business trainings and I have met many amazing local small business owners. I have also completed many online personal development training courses in Polish and English language. At the end of 2018, there was an opportunity to buy software for designing embroidery patterns at a promotional price, which we selected together during the previous training. However, as usual, it is not enough to buy it, you have to use it. Nothing will happen by itself. The new software turned out to be completely different from the previous one, in which I was doing very well. I knew I needed another training. This time with the handling and design of embroidery patterns in the new software. 

In March 2019, I set off on another journey for knowledge in this fascinating topic. After another training in computer embroidery design I had the knowledge, skills and willingness to take my passion for sewing and design to a higher level. It took me almost 2 years to acquire these skills in computer embroidery, during which I did not design any of Irish dance costumes. All this time I just tested my skills. However, I still felt not good enough to be able to professionally design Irish dance costumes.

All the time I remembered the words of the client who, although being very pleased with the corrections of her daughter’s costume, she still thought she knew that the costume that I could make for her would be perfect, but she wouldn’t decide because she might have problems to sell this later because I’m neither famous nor well-known designer. It is this client that I would like to thank very much for these words because they were the first step towards where I’m now. Because if I know that I’m good at it and I want to do it. I am convinced that in this way I can fulfill the dreams of young dancers, so why would I not show the world that I am and that I want to help

Irish dancing classes 

However, if I’m going to start designing and making Irish dance costumes again, it must have a solid foundation. I love to plan and now I had a lot to plan down to the smallest detail. Since 2017, my daughter Olivia has been dancing Irish at the Sylvan Kelly School of Irish Dancing, which was recommended to me by Sarah. Yes, it’s the same Sarah who started it all.

From the beginning of 2019, my daughter Olivia started to make great progress and achieve her first successes in competitions. Her passion for dance and commitment are an inspiration for me. My daughter Olivia inspired me not to give up and go on pursuing my dreams and consistently implement my plan. I knew there would be a time when Olivia needed her first dress. I took my time because I knew I had time. 

How Celtic Dress Design’s story began?

In August 2019, there was a breakthrough, I decided it was time to act, then the name Celtic Dress Design was created. Celtic music has been with me for a long time in meditation and inspiration. My favorite colors are black and gold. Combining it all, I designed the Celtic Dress Design logo. Earlier, during local trainings, I learned that I could apply for a grant from the Local Enterprise Office for an industrial sewing machine, industrial overlock and my dreamed embroidery machine. As it happens in such situations, it lasts. After submitting the application and obtaining approval, I was able to buy all the machines from my own resources, and then apply for the payment of the previously granted grant in the amount of 50% of the value of the machines. I trust and believe in my goal, my vision that Ballina in Mayo will be known for high-quality Irish dance costumes. 

The support I received from the Local Enterprise office employees was invaluable to me. Thanks to these wonderful women, I’ve started to believe in myself and in the fact that I also can fulfill my dreams in accordance with my mission of helping, solving the problems of my clients and fulfilling the dreams of little dancers.

The website, online store and our amazing team

The next step was a website with an online store with my products. I was planning this step for a long time then I had no idea how much work would be involved in it. In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic took over the world. I knew it was the best moment to act. Like many local business owners, at that time I applied for a grant for a website with a shop. I have received confirmation that I can act. I started planning the website visually so that it was customer-friendly. I commissioned my website with the store to the local company Darkblue Design.

I decided that the heart of my website will be a blog where I will share reliable and proven tips for Irish dancing moms and dads. The first article I’ve published on the blog will help you to decide whether to order a new costume or buy a second-hand costume. For this purpose, I have prepared a special survey, which many of you had filled in and I would like to thank you again for that. The results of the survey helped me to supplement the article with relevant information.

The products that are currently available in the store as custom made, were planned and designed based on the needs of my daughter and based on the suggestions of many of you who commented below my post about the Dress bag which I made for my daughter.

We also have a video which is promoting my new brand Celtic Dress Design. You can find it on all my social media and youtube channel. I wrote the script for the video by myself as well as I chose the music, but actually the music chose me. The video was recorded and edited by a local professional from Whitethirnmedia. He also took care of a photo session where my daughter, Olivia appeared as the face of our family brand.

This is how the Celtic Dress Design Team was created. Our team is amazing. In our team we also have a Virtual Assistant who is responsible for correcting the content on the website and for the newsletter, which I encourage you to subscribe to. As a gift for your subscription, you will receive a special discount code of 10% for purchases on accessories from our store.

Summary of the story

I am convinced that all the people who contributed to building the image of Celtic Dress Design are my angels and we did not meet by accident. Nothing happens without a reason like the fact that I chose a different photographer for my business photos. It was the best choice for me. I am very grateful to Alicja Duffy Photography for all the beautiful photos she took. I would also like to thank the girls from Sunrise studio for beautiful make-up and nails. And I would also like to thank Margaret hair Salon for a great hairstyle.

This is the moment when I come out of the shadows and talk to you. I am here and I can help you if you only feel such a need. If you are reading this, I congratulate you and thank you for being here with me on my blog, in a place that we’ve made just for you


Comments ( 3 )

  • I am in fact happy to glance at this blog posts which includes tons of helpful data, thanks for providing such statistics. Kathrine Ariel Goldia

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