Love sequins. But sewing them painstakingly all over a fabric is something I do not have the patience for. So I usually take the easy way out, when I want the glamour and bling that the sequins can give me – Buy that gorgeously glorious sequin fabric for my project.
A sequin fabric is beautiful, and not much work – no picking up and sewing each sequin one by one. But Hey, am I delusional? Sewing readymade sequin fabric is also not for the faint-hearted or the impatient (me).
The sequin fabric is a lightweight fabric (usually a woven mesh, sometimes knit mesh or it can be any other fabric) in which sequins are attached all over or in patterns. The fact that these flat discs we call sequins are all lying on the face of fabric (stitched or glued) makes it a difficult fabric to sew with.
Problems you can expect when sewing with sequin fabric
The sequins and beads are embellishments and at the same time impediments on your stitching and cutting line. It will break your needle (Even plenty of them in the course of sewing one single project), dull your scissors and may give you a mighty hard time completing the project.
Some more problems – You cannot easily mark these fabrics – especially on the right side. Some sequin fabric are elastic in nature. They will bunch up under your needle, refuse to move.You cannot use fusible interfacing with these fabrics because the sequins will melt with the heat needed to fuse the interfacing.The seam allowance can make the garment feel bulky.Need I say more.
But with some tricks, you can sew very well with your sequin fabric
How to sew sequin fabric solving all these problems
Choosing Patterns for sequin fabric
This is a no-brainer. I will choose the simplest of all patterns. No thin fabric tubes, No collars, No fasteners if possible, No piping or such embellishments, No pleats, No pockets, No gathers or ruffles. All these are left for other simple fabrics. For sequin fabrics Simple patterns with minimum stitching/ seams.
Marking on sequin fabric
This is a problem. You simply cannot mark on the face of the fabric with all the sequins and beads attached. But you can mark on the back of the fabri. I make paper patterns and keep it on the back of the fabric. Pin the pattern to the fabric and mark around or directly cut carefully all around.
With darts and such markings ( button markings etc), which you have to make on the face of the fabric, you may have to use tracing stitches or tailors tacks with a hand sewing needle and thread to make the pattern markings. Use a contrasting coloured thread so that it stands out. Check out the post on tailor’s tack stitch
Ensure that the patterns are laid out and cut in one direction – which ever way you prefer the sequins faces. The sequins are usually placed like fish scales on the fabric, facing one direction. Donot keep the pattern this way and that way so that you may get colour variations because of the position of the sequins. (Just like you do with napped / pile fabrics)
Cutting the sequin fabric
Imp: Use eye protection.When cutting and sewing sequins fabric the sequins bits are allover the place and one may errantly pop into your eye too if you are not careful
Before cutting the sequin fabric, you may wish to remove the sequins or beads on that line. The sequins can dull the blades of your good scissors. What I have done is to reserve old scissors ( which is sharpened finely) to cut this kind of difficult fabrics. I will not use my good newly bought scissors on these prickly fabric.
You should add a lining to anything you make with sequins fabric – most of the sequin fabric are thin underneath all those sequins. They need the strength and stability that a lining/ underlining provides. The sequin fabric will also be itchy, so a lining will help in that way too
Preparing the fabric for stitching
Before sewing, Ideally, I will begin by removing the beads/sequins on the seam line I have marked, one by one. Use a seam ripper.Sometimes the sequins are glued on. You may only need to pry them from the surface.
Keep a hand needle and thread ready.After removing the sequins on the stitching line, You will need to reinforce stitch some of the sequins nearby – because these sequins are applied with a loop construction, most times they are sturdy. But sometimes when you try to remove one, all the nearby ones also fall off.
Keep the sequins you have discarded from the seamline safely somewhere. You will need this later to be stitched on to the gaps you may notice near the seam line, after the garment is made.
Finally stitching sequin fabric
Hand stitching is the best method to sew sequin fabric. But this may prove to be time-consuming if your project is a big one.So lets us see how to do it ok on your sewing machine
Check out the 9 easy hand stitches you need to master.
Which sewing machine thread to use with the sequins fabric – Nylon/polyster thread is better than the regular cotton sewing thread; they are stronger and will not be cut off with the sharp ends of the sequins
Which sewing machine needle to use with the sequinned fabric: If you have thicker sequins on the fabric, You need a heavy needle intended to go through sequins on the seam line – a denim needle is strong enough and may go through the sequins and stitch the seam. But if the sequins are small you can use a small sharp needle
If you find that the machine is not moving forward, you may have to use the hand control on the right side of the sewing machine and move it slowly forward to keep stitching.It happens all too often when sewing sequin fabrics
Keep plenty of extra needles at hand – sequins are hard on needle tips. Lengthen the stitching length to a comfortable one, after testing on a scrap. Keep on checking that your sewing needle is sharp throughout the project. The needle dulls fast when sewing this type of fabrics and makes your sewing difficult.
If you are using an elastic sequin fabric, stitch with a narrow zig zag stitch which will give strecth to the seam line. Stretch the fabric as you sew.
How to finish the Hems and necklines of sequin fabric
A simple turn under edge on hems and necklines can make the fabric edge look bulky and twisted.
Bind the hems and necklines with a bias tape. This will act as a facing . Use lightweight fabric for the bias tape.
After stitching the bias tape on the fabric edge, turn under the bias tape to the back of the fabric and use simple whip stitches to stitch the binding in place. If you are using appropriately (close to the fabric) coloured thread, this hand stitching can make the stitching look invisible
Fasteners stitched with a sewing machine is a problem on this fabric. Buttonholes are difficult to make but hooks and eyes, buttonloops and buttons, zippers are all ok; these can be easily hand stitched if machine stitching is difficult, especially with zippers
These are some simple tricks that keep my sanity when sewing with the sequin fabrics. You can go on to make some beautiful things with it.The stretch sequin fabric is used to make tightfitting dancewear clothes, fitting gowns, leggings etc. The non-stretch one can be made into any project that your creative mind can make up – bags, skirts, dresses, capes, jackets
If you are in a mind to sew sequins yourself and make your own sequin fabric check out the post – 10 ways to attach sequins on fabric.