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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Belly Dance Costume Maintenance: Protecting Sequins


By Saqra


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An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. Sequins are not colorfast. Sweat and wear remove the colored finish, leaving you with clear sequins. Once that happens, you can't easily repair or replace the color and sparkle.

These are suggestions on how to protect, repair or refinish sequins on a costume. These are methods I have used. Please be cautious doing things to your costumes! Try the techniques on similar trims first. Try them in inconspicuous areas, etc. As I've said before, your mileage may vary!

Some of the protection work is a big, time-consuming pain. However, you truly only need to do it once ever, and I have found it to be worth the investment. I actually have done several paillette dresses, paillette belts and full paillette bedlah with this method. I watched a lot of television doing it, too.

Please read all directions at least three times before doing anything. Contact me if you aren't clear on something. I'll do my best to answer any questions.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.





The most effective way to protect sequins and paillettes is to give each one a clear overcoat.

You can use some kind of clear plastic spray paint to treat appliques or continuous small sequined surfaces such as the bottom edge or armpit edges of a sequin-covered bra. I've used Krylon Clear Gloss with no ill effects except that there will be a little bit of dulling from the spray droplets. It's a choice between having colorless sequins under your arms, or slightly duller. I treated all the sequins on all my costumes for years and they look exactly as they did when I finished treating them in the first place. But first, try it on a piece of wide sequin trim from the fabric store and see if you are comfortable with how it looks.

Before you start, use painter's tape to cover any exposed fabric. If there are crystal jewels, I would recommend making them too. (I am lazy and use removable stickers for putting price tags on garage sale items if I have a uniform jewel size on the garment. Do not use permanent adhesive stickers! I also appied the spray to the large iridescent jewels the same way I did to paillettes). If there are paillettes, don't worry about spraying them or not spraying them: you will fix them in the next step.

Don't lay the spray on too thick, and apply it from several angles.

If you are also spraying beaded fringe, apply the spray lightly. Do not saturate the thread itself that the beads are on, because the spray makes the thread a bit brittle. Also, the beads can stick together in weird shapes if you didn't lay them straight.

Paillettes (the large sequins) are next. Get a bottle of clear nail polish. I have used the brand "Wet and Wild". Test it on a paillette in an inconspicuous place, following the procedure I am about to describe. Then let it dry completely and see what it does. Some nail polishes contain a brutal solvent that makes the finish crack weirdly. (Back when I ran a sign-making company, we called it the solvent being "too hot".)

If your test goes well, then....

Set your garment down with as many paillettes as possible laying flat and not touching each other.

  • Put three stripes of nail polish on the exposed surface of each one: center, left, right.
  • Follow the usual rules for applying nail polish: go fast, and don't repeat a place you've been over.
  • If you cover an area twice you will probably cause streaking. If you are doing repairs, this is a good thing, as you'll see in the next section. However, it is not recommended when applying the initial protective coat.
  • Do NOT get the polish on the thread that holds the paillette in place. It makes the thread brittle. Just appy the polish fairly close to the thread.

Wait for the nail polish to dry, and then flip over every single one of those paillettes and coat the other side.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.





There is not much you can do about damaged fields of small sequins. However, if you have old untreated costume pieces with damaged paillettes whose surfaces are scratched or dull from wear, you can usually do a lot to fix them with the clear nail polish.

The solvent in the nail polish dissolves and redistributes the finish on the paillette, filling in the scratches.

If the paillettes have only partially lost their color it may help that a bit as well. It can't restore the color, but it can move it around.

If the paillettes have completely lost color, your only option may be to refinish them.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.





In the United States, look for the Sally Hansen Chrome Nail Polish that most closely matches your paillettes. If you are elsewhere, this brand might not be available, and you may need to find something equivalent. (You are much more likely to find something suitable with silver and gold than with other colors.)

Do the same test described above for protecting sequins. Proceed as you would do with clear nail polish, following the same rules. Don't get it on the thread.

Try this on only one paillette to make sure you are satisfied with the results before you apply it to the rest of your costume. I was happy with how it looked, but you may feel differently!

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




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About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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