Using Sequins

Ready-made sequin fabric.

Before using sequins to embellish anything in sight, it is important to realize how to best use these small details without overdoing the sparkle.

About Sequins

Sequins, also called diamantes or spangles, are disk-shaped, flattened beads frequently used to embellish clothing and costumes. However, sequins have historically served a much more practical purpose.

In the Mediterranean and Middle East, where using sequins originated, the colorful disks were initially coins. Attached to a woman's clothing, they displayed the family's wealth and contributed to the woman's status.

In fact, the origin of the word sequin can be found in sikka, the Arabic word for coin. This was translated to zecchin in Italian and then to sequin in French, which is the form eventually adopted into English.

Types of Sequins

Today, sequins are no longer coins, but using them sparingly and with good taste can add richness to many projects. There are numerous sequin sizes available, from two to 30 millimeters in diameter. While most styles are flat or slightly curved, others are faceted to reflect more light in different directions.

By far the most popular shape is round, but other shapes include octagons, hexagons, stars, hearts, leaves, snowflakes, flowers, and starbursts. Other sequin characteristics include different finishes on either side to create greater depth and texture to a project and a multitude of colors, including opalescent and iridescent sheens as well as clear varieties.

Sequins are generally made to attach to a project at a single point, either near the edge of the disk for larger pieces or in the center for smaller sequins. Because working with sequins can be tedious, there are a number of by-the-yard sequins available from craft and fabric retailers, including:

  • Narrow lines of sequins, either straight or in a curved or wavy symmetrical pattern
  • Thicker lines of overlapping disks with multiple rows of sequins, either in one color or colored patterns
  • Elastic sequin trim in a range of widths and styles
  • Sequin-coated fabric with shiny disks already attached to the fabric
  • Sequin fringe ready-made for embellishing different projects

Ready-made sequin trims are great options for elaborate projects, eliminating much of the tedious labor of attaching thousands of tiny accents to a project.

Using Sequins: Project Ideas

Many different projects can be brightened and enhanced by carefully using sequins. Popular project ideas include:

  • Trimming flowing, loose clothing such as veils, scarves, hip belts, and skirts
  • Embellishing costumes and masks
  • Adding glitter to a fabric project such as embroidery or needlepoint
  • Embellishing special occasion clothing such as a wedding or other formal gowns, matching shoes, or formal gloves
  • Adding sparkle to Christmas holiday projects such as stockings, candles, and ornaments
  • Creating decorative hair accessories including barrettes, headbands, and pins
  • Enhancing performance attire such as dance costumes or band uniforms
  • Trimming fabric accessories including purses, curtain tie-backs, or decorative towels
  • Trimming paper projects such as homemade cards or scrapbook pages
  • Creating unique artwork solely from sequins, such as pictures or geometric patterns

With careful use, there is no limit to the projects sequins can enhance.

Tips and Cautions for Using Sequins

Because sequins are small and relatively unnoticeable in small quantities, it can be easy to go overboard when using them for various craft projects. Consider the following tips for sequin use:

  • Gaps in densely concentrated sequins are inevitable; focus on creating a nice project rather than perfection.
  • Apply sequins in whatever way keeps them securely attached: glue for paper crafts or flat fabric projects, pins when attached to styrofoam shapes, or sewn onto fabric projects as trim.
  • Attach disks securely to keep them in place, or attach loosely to encourage turning and glittering with movement such as on clothing or costumes.
  • When choosing the sequins for a project, consider the durability of the item and opt for sequins by-the-yard if the item may be frequently stressed.
  • Choose metallic finish sequins if reflecting light is the desired result, such as for a dance costume or other performance outfit.
  • Opt for small quantities of sequins initially and add more only after careful consideration to avoid a too glitzy or showy result.

There are many types of sequin embellishments to choose from, and using sequins in a variety of craft projects can add sparkle and glitter to the finished item. If chosen carefully and used cautiously, sequins can be a charming and fun embellishment to many projects.

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