Manataka American Indian Council

Proudly Presents







Diné Designer Irene Begay’s Dazzling Dresses

By Toyacoyah Brown,


I wish I had one of these dresses when I was going to prom! Check out designer Irene Begay’s fabulous dresses she creates by weaving traditional and modern styles.


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Navajo Times did a story on Irene Begay last year. Begay is originally from Standing Rock, N.M. She is Red Running Into the Water Clan and born for Red Cheek People. Although she watched her mother weave as a child, she mostly learned by sneaking in when her mother stepped away from the loom.


“She never actually really taught me, saying, ‘This is how you do it.’ I didn’t learn like that. She used to chase me away,” Begay said recalling how she used to observe her mother create rug designs. 


One day she didn’t even notice I wove about an inch of her rug, Begay said.  


Begay’s tendency to observe her mother’s work didn’t stop at weaving – she took it a step further when she caught sight of her mother’s old sewing machine.


Begay said her mother owned an old sewing machine that required pedaling with the feet and she remembers actually standing on it to make it function properly as she pushed different pieces of fabric through. 


The first designs she recalls creating were on the bottom of her friend’s bellbottoms where she would cut out the bottom and sew in native designs.


“Ever since then I’ve been weaving, sewing and crocheting,” Begay said.


Lucky for us she kept on going with her gift and now she can share her talents with us.


If you’re in the Farmington, New Mexico area she does have dresses for sale at Novelty’s Q-Tee, 222 W Main St, Farmington, NM 87401. Otherwise you’ll have to contact her for a special order. According to the article, it takes three to five weeks for Begay to complete a dress order and three to five months for a rug dress order. Her dresses can cost anywhere from $30 to $875, the rug dresses being the most expensive. Not only does she have women’s dresses but she has some pretty snazzy shirts and vests for the men too.


If you like what you see, feel free to reach her via her Facebook page: Traditional Authentic Native Designs by Irene Begay.

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