In the Irish Dance world one of the most important aspects of a dancer’s costume is the sparkle it gives out on stage. To catch the attention of the judges and wow the audience at the same time, you need to dazzle them with your bling as well as your dance moves! And no Irish dance outfit is complete without a tiara to match.

We’ve spoken to Carli from F.A.B Tiara’s, a wonderfully talented designer who uses Preciosa crystals from Crystal Parade to embellish her handiwork. She explains why it is important to add sparkle to your costume, which rhinestones in particular she likes to work with and her preferred application method. Here is a snapshot of our conversation with Carli:

1.Why is it important to use rhinestones on an Irish dance dress or accessory?

‘Crystals are a very important addition to Irish dancing costumes and accessories. They not only help to enhance the embroidery design, they add that va va voom to the look and overall performance of the dancer under the stage lights. Being noticed on stage is vitally important to catch the judge’s eye, especially as there can be up to three dancers on stage doing the same steps.’

As well as embellishing the main body of the dress including waist line, collar, sleeves and cuffs, many dressmakers will also apply crystals and gems to motifs, which are then glued or sewn onto the dress. Motifs are a great way of adding texture and detail to a dress, and giving them an extra sparkle only enhances the dress further. By using different colours and sizes within the flatback rhinestones, you can follow the pattern and contours of the motif:

2. What is your favourite style of crystal to work with (e.g flatback rhinestone, sew on stone, pearl etc)?

‘I always work with Preciosa Non Hotfix flatback crystals and large sew on stones. The stones for my tiaras have to match the existing dresses perfectly so they look like they’ve been made together.’

In Carli’s business, she knows that wearing matching or complimentary headpieces, such as tiaras or other wig accessories, can really make a costume stand out. A common feature of an Irish dance tiara is using Flatback Non Hotfix rhinestones in colours that match the focal point of the dress. Often this is the AB colour, but bright bold tones are also a great way of drawing attention to the outfit as a whole. See how Carli has used Preciosa Fuchsia and Peridot crystals and AB Peardrop and Rivoli sew on stones to create this fabulous tiara:

3. How many times can a dress / accessory be used before it may need repairing?

‘It depends on the dancer and how well the stones are glued on. Most dancers will lose a handful from a dress each time they compete. Tiaras and hair accessories not so much as they are put on with the wig at the start and not removed until the very end.’

If the rhinestones are glued on using Gem Tac or E6000 glue, they are more likely to stay on as these glues are designed to move with the fabric and have flexibility. With the larger Sew on Stones, these can be sewn on using the two tiny holes in the stone – this gives extra durability and can easily be re-used.

4. What is your go-to method for applying rhinestones to fabric?

‘As the tiaras are not washed I just use a standard all purpose adhesive such as Gem Tac.’

Gem Tac is a fabulous glue for applying Non Hotfix rhinestones, Flatback Pearls, fabric motifs and other embellishments to almost any surface. We recommend squeezing the glue into a syringe applicator first, then applying it to your fabric through the syringe tip. This allows you to apply just a small amount of glue at a time and avoids mess and wastage.

Irish dance