Beads and Sequins
Every once in awhile, we need something that is filled with glitz and glamour. Beaded and sequined fabric come to the rescue! These fabrics oooze glamour like no other fabric can. But they can be a bit intimidating for those of us who sew. With patience and good information, you can make a beautiful garment from these deluxe fabrics. Most beaded and/or sequined fabrics are on a thin fabric base, usually silk or rayon. Before beginning your project, read the sewing guide for silk to familiarize yourself with the properties of the base fabric. Prepare yourself for some handwork….but it's well worth the trouble!
Do not pretreat.
For beaded fabrics, choose the appropriate needle for the backing fabric. Usually this will be a sharp needle, size 75/11. Test your fabric to be sure this is right for your particular piece. For sequin fabrics, a heavier needled is needed to actually puncture the sequins. Use a denim needle, or the largest size universal needle in your packet. In either case, purchase two full packages of needles. You will likely need them.
Lengthen your stitch length to approximately 3.5 for standard seams. Seam finishes are not easily accomplished in these fabrics. You will be much happier if you choose to line the entire garment. For hems, make a faced hem by cutting a bias strip of soft fabric (I like to use satin) about 3 inches wide. Stitch with a conventional seam to the hem of the sequined fabric, turn under the facing, and hem in place at the top of the facing with hand stitching. The same facing technique can be used at necklines or armholes, using a 1 inch strip of bias fabric.
Silk organza, sewn in by hand, is the best solution for any needed interfacing in sequin or beaded fabrics. Do not fuse anything to these fabrics as the beads and/or sequins will likely melt.
Simple dresses, jackets, and tops. Let simplicity be your rule here; the fabric is the star of this show! Eliminate from consideration anything with multiple pattern pieces, darts, or small pieces such as collars and welt pockets. If you plan to wear your beaded or sequin fabric under a jacket, use the beaded fabric for only the front of the top. Use a smooth fabric for the back of the top; it will be much more comfortable to wear.
Buttonholes are next to impossible in this type of fabric. Choose button loops instead, made by hand from a heavy thread. Or use a zipper opening, again stitched in place by hand.
Beads and sequins do take a bit of planning ahead for success. Begin by making a muslin test garment. After completing your alterations, use the muslin as your pattern, thread-tracing the stitching lines on to the backing of your beaded fabric. Cut out the pieces, then remove any sequins or beads that are within the seam allowances. If beads are glued in place (rather than stitched), they can be crushed by tapping with a hammer. After stitching the garment together, run a bead of fray-check or no-fray along the interior of the seam. Then from the front of the garment, re-stitch any loose sequins or beads or fill in any "bald" spaces with additional beads or sequins by hand. Give yourself plenty of time for making a beaded garment. Stitch slowly. You will likely break a few needles in the process; do not be discouraged. The finished garment will be something you will be proud to own and to wear!