Let’s talk about how to sew sequin fabric without losing it!
There’s a lot to love about sequin fabric. It’s so sparkly and it makes the simplest outfit all dressed up, but oh you can be such a nasty pain to sew! If you’ve ever busted multiple needles or had to clean up after a sequin fabric project, you know what I’m talking about.
This last year I sewed no less than 100 gold sequin starfish for my kids’ Christmas program at church and cleaning them up was not a fun process. In the end they were shiny and wonderful. So let’s focus on the end result. How can we make sequin sewing less painful? Here are my tips for how to sew sequin fabric.
Sequin fabric is a diva
Sequin fabric falls under the category of fussy fabrics. What kinds of problems will you face and what questions do you need to answer when you pick up a piece of sequin fabric?
Thankfully, we can tackle all of these problems. So, pick up some painter’s tape, grab a pair of goggles, and let’s dive into how to sew sequin fabric!
Pick a simple style
Sometimes fabric is the star, and sometimes the fabric is the star. When you’re working with sequin fabric, it’s quite literally the star!
Fun story: I once played a show in high school where the soloist was wearing a sequin dress. The power was having problems in the building, and at one point our stand lights all went out. We literally read music by the reflection of the spotlight off her dress, LOL!
The point is, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Pick a simple pattern with simple lines and as few as seams as possible, and you’ll have a winner with your sequin fabric.
Cover your cutting surface
So you’ve chosen your pattern, now it’s time to cut. But before you reach for your scissors, let’s set this up right.
Once you start cutting sequins, they will be flying everywhere. Think popping you in the face, etc. Worse, they’ll be all over your cutting table and will get on every last piece of fabric that comes after it for months.
Let’s do some prevention here. Cover your cutting table with a layer of tissue paper, newsprint, packing paper, or a garbage bag. Literally anything you have on hand that you can easily fold up and shake out into outside trash later is good here. And about those scissors….
How to cut sequin fabric
Sequins are like little piranhas on the blades of your scissors. Do NOT use your prized fabric shears here for cutting sequins. Instead, grab a pair in need of sharpening or a rotary blade that’s on its way to being changed.
It’s not a bad idea to wear safety glasses, especially if you’re cutting large sequin types like mermaid sequins. I cut this dress for my daughter at night when I had swapped out contacts for my glasses. Even that helped me from getting dinged in the eye, although I can’t say the same for my face!
Bag up any unused sequin fabric in a sealable plastic bag. Keeping it bagged is going to keep the sequins off the rest of your stash!
How to mark sequin fabric
Most sequins fabrics are attached to some kind of mesh fabric–either a tulle, netting or stretch mesh. With all of these options, you can’t nip into the seam allowances to mark notches like you can with a lot of fabrics.
You also won’t be able to see chalk lines on the sequin side. So how do you mark sequin fabric then?
For darts, mark the points and edges with pins.
Cut any notches outward so that you don’t add stress on the seams. If you must mark, mark on the backside of your fabric with tailor’s tacks or pins.
Put a drop cloth under your sewing table
So now, you have your sequin fabric all cut and marked, let’s protect your floor.
If you have a sewing space without carpet, this will be much easier for you. You can simply sweep up all the errant sequins later.
If on the other hand, you work in a carpeted area, do this first before you start sewing: lay down a painter’s dropcloth underneath your sewing table. Just like before with protecting the table, this will keep you from having to pry up sequins months later from the inner fibers of your carpet.
To remove sequins or to not remove sequins…
It’s a big controversy whether or not you need to remove the sequins from the seam allowance.
For big sequins, it’s a helpful thing. You can remove the sequins in the entire seam allowance, or just the row that’s right on the stitching line. Either use a seam ripper and take them off from the right side, or cut the strings holding them in place on the wrong side of the fabric.
This is your major time suck. But you’ve already been smart in picking a style with few seams, so put on the coffee and get it done. After this, it’s cake.
With smaller sequins, you can just stitch right on through. For real. It’s a whole lot faster and easier.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.