Ask the Costume Goddess
Ask the Costume Goddess:
by Dina Lydia
Dear Costume Goddess:
How can I sew sequins on with the machine? I saw some items
at a show and they had the trims sewn on with a machine?
The Costume Goddess Responds
It's easy to sew sequin trim on with a machine. The metal
is soft enough for a needle to penetrate. The sequins can be
pinned or loosely basted on, then stitched close to the center,
or both sides if the sequinned strip is wide. This will dull
the needle more quickly than usual, so it may have to be replaced.
Who wants to spend hours tediously sewing sequins on by hand,
when we all have more important things to do, like painting our
toenails, or finishing that dissertation?
It may be worth the effort, at times, for several reasons.
When you sew a strip of sequins by machine, the needle makes
a row of holes and a line of stitching in the sequins. That's
fine if the sequins are at the hem of a skirt, for instance,
where they won't be viewed closely.
Be sure you sew them on correctly the first time, because
if you make a mistake and have to resew, the sequins will have
twice as many holes and look pretty grubby. You should start
over with new trim. It can't be picked off and re-used on another
garment, for the same reason, and this is a consideration if
the trim is ornate and expensive.
There are parts of your costume - the bra cup, for instance - which
would be difficult to fit under a machine presser foot. Handwork
is necessary here. And it really does look nice to have a seqinned
trim invisibly affixed with hand stitches.
Some manufacturers sew their sequins with a beautiful invisible
chain stitch, but I believe this requires a special machine.
Unless you plan to become a manufacturer of costume wear, it
probably isn't an option.
If you do machine sew sequins onto a small costume piece such
as a gauntlet, a pant leg or a bra strap, it's easier if you
do it while the piece is flat, before any seams are sewn.
My words of wisdom on this subject are running out, so I hope
that you're ready to run to your machine and finish whipping
up that orange sparkler. Send me a photo!
--The Costume Goddess
Additional Comments from Shira
I usually use a large needle (size 16) for machine-sewing sequins.
Using needle lubricant can reduce the amount of friction the needle experiences as it pierces the sequins. I recommend applying it several times while sewing the sequins in place.
If you examine the trim closely, you'll see that the sequins overlap each other slightly. If you have a slant-needle machine, it will be very important to pay attention to which end of the sequins you feed into the machine first.
If you feed them into the sewing machine with the raised part of each sequin sticking up toward you, as shown in the "Do" diagram, you'll have an easier time with less needle breakage than you will if you feed them through the other way. That's because a slant-needle machine's slant will cause it to slip off the sequin and bend or break if you feed the sequins through with the raised edge away from you as shown in the "Don't" diagram.
About the Costume Goddess
Dina has been sewing for more than twenty-five
years (yes, she started as a toddler!)
She's also an artist (Maryland Institute of Art) and perfected
her sewing techniques apprenticed to various designers, freelancing
for small theaters, restyling vintage garments, and altering
Dina fell in love with belly dancing costumes upon her very
first lesson. Now the pleasure of wearing her own designs, and
seeing others wear them, offers as much pleasure as dancing. She's
become expert as well in altering those troublesome ready-made
Egyptian costumes, and modifying designs to flatter individual
She holds workshops in Seattle to teach design and construction
of cabaret costumes, and analysis of figure characteristics.
She will also give private lessons, or resize or repair a secondhand
costume. She's thus earned her Costume Goddess title.
The Costume Goddess Tells All Costuming Books
Dina has published six books of her own on belly dance costuming
as well as writing nearly all the costuming section for The
Belly Dance Book. For information on her series of books, The Costume Goddess Tells All, see her web site at www.costumegoddess.com.
For reviews here on Shira.net of some of her books, see:
Costume Goddess Photos
To view a photo gallery featuring pictures of Dina, costumes
she has designed, and her friends, either click on the choices below or visit her web site:
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