Why use crystals to embellish an Irish dance dress?

It is a well-known fact that in the Irish dance world, competitors are judged not only on the skill and choreography, but on the look of the costume too. So, the more eye-catching the dress, the higher the score. And how do you make your dress stand out in the crowd I hear you ask? By adding loads of SPARKLE! Dancers, coaches, dance mums, dressmakers and seamstresses have been attaching rhinestones to Irish dance dresses for years, and as time goes on, the designs are getting more unique, bold and innovative. Now, our customers are using other embellishments too; pearls, 3D chatons, sew on mirror shapes, pyramids and spikes to name a few. When adding rhinestones to an Irish dance dress, using the correct sizes is imperative, as the design of the dress is what first draws the eyes of the judges.

Flatback rhinestone size guide

  • SS16 (4mm) and SS20 (5mm) – These are the smallest sized non hotfix crystals you should be using on your dress, they are commonly added to the sleeves in a scattered effect pattern to bring extra sparkle. They are also great for filling gaps in between other larger crystals, or for creating a gradient from small to large. These smaller sizes are good for crystallizing a matching tiara, shoe buckles or wig.Image credit: Rising Star Designs
  • SS30 (6mm), SS34 (7mm), SS40 (8.5mm) – These slightly bigger flatback rhinestones are the most common size for gluing onto a dress, with SS34 being the most popular by far. These rhinestones are the base for nearly all designs, they can be used to embellish motifs, outline the main design, and carry the bulk of the colour and crystal sparkle. Hundreds of these rhinestones are glued onto the dress, often in a distinct pattern or colour scheme, which is another reason why SS34 is used most often – they are available in dozens of colours and effects. Read our Ultimate Guide to Crystal Colours for more details.Image credit: Rising Star Designs

Sew on rhinestones

The most popular way to use sew on stones on an Irish dance dress is to incorporate them into the design around the collar, shoulders and chest. The upper part of the dancers’ body is constantly moving so the crystals have the best chance to shine under the spotlight from there. Those areas are also at eye level for the judges so the bulk of the sparkle is usually situated there. Zodiac sew on peardrops 28x17mm and emerald cut stones 28x20mm are the most popular shapes for these areas – the sparkle they offer matches that of Swarovski, plus they are available in over 60 different colours and effects in the Zodiac brand.

Image credit: Rising Star Designs

Rhinestones for Irish dance accessories

For shoes, buckles, tiaras and headpieces, the dancers often like to use the smaller sizes such as SS16 and SS20 to embellish with. You can get more detail into the design with smaller rhinestones, and they are less money than the larger sizes. For a stunning piece, it is worth adding just a couple of big chunky sew on stones to really make it stand out.

Image credit: ShinyShuz

Check out our handy guide to Zodiac rhinestone sizes for Irish Dance, all available to order on our website.

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