Master sewing with beaded and sequin fabric

We loved the beaded flapper dresses on this week’s episode of Sewing Bee. Who can say when the chance to dress up in a fancy gown may arise. It could be just around the corner! Love Sewing columnist Elisalex de Castro Peake has got all the tips you need for sewing beaded or sequin fabric.

• Simple. slinky designs and clean lines work best – let your fabric do the talking and avoid fussy details such as gathers and pleats.

• To identify the nap, ask yourself which way the sequins or beads are facing -generally speaking, you want everything to run down your body. If your fabric has embellishments sewn on flat, either in an all over haphazard manner, or more sparse, embroidered design, there is no nap. No nap, no worries!

Pearl beaded border chiffon

• Cut pattern pieces from the WS of your fabric, and from one single layer at a time (for pieces that call to be cut on the fold, cut one side first then carefully nip your pattern over at the fold line to cut the other side as a mirror image). Use pattern weights and a fresh rotary blade. Glasses are advisable to prevent renegade shards from pinging into your eyes as you cut! Cut yourself a scrap of fabric to keep to one side. This will provide you with extra sequins or beads in case you need to manually fill in any bald spots near the seam lines later on.

• Mark out all seam lines with a hand-basted running stitch in a contrasting thread. Then, with small pointy scissors or a seam ripper, remove all sequins that fall within the seam allowance. Beads are attached in long strings so if you cut them you may unravel a larger area that you intended. Hammer any beads in the seam allowance and any darts to crush them. This will reduce bulk and prevent broken needles.


Vogue 1374

• For precision, baste seams by hand before machine stitching. Run seams through your machine slowly and carefully to avoid breaking too many needles! If you’re feeling apprehensive, start by using your hand wheel to sew until you’ve built up the gum pt on to step on the pedal.
If you’re working with stretch sequins, avoid the temptation to work on an overlocker – the needles will likely break and you could seriously damage the knife. A lot of unnecessary aggro’ A regular zigzag stitch will work just fine.

• Remember that sequins and beads are made of plastic and therefore liable to melt under high heat turn your iron down and use a presser cloth (ideally a piece of silk organza, but a scrap piece of cotton will do) to protect your embellishments.

Beaded and embroidered flowers on tulle lilac

• Never pre-wash and dry-clean only! Treat your garments with the same level of respect and perfectionism with which you sewed them.


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Categories: Dressmaking, Great British Sewing Bee Series 6, Learn to Sew