Everything is better with sparkles. I learned that lesson from my mother in-law a few years ago when we all traveled to Beirut for a black tie wedding. Actually, black tie would be an understatement. The dresses were all red carpet level exquisite.
I met up with the women of the family at the salon, my then-toddler daughter in tow. I requested a French manicure and when the nail technician automatically grabbed the silver glitter I knew I was in for some bling. I asked my MIL for help translating “French manicure” into Arabic, but she simply replied, “Isn’t everything better with sparkles?”
My daughter must have been listening closely because her own preference was just confirmed by thee matriarch of the family. And she’s been obsessed with all that glitters ever since.
Pretty much everything in my daughter’s possession has glitter or sequins. Sequin sandals, sequin hats, sequin clothing. Every. Dang. Thing. So, it was no surprise when she saw reversible mermaid sequin fabric and asked me to make her some glitter jeans. “Sparkley jeans are better than regular jeans, right mama?” Right, baby girl.
How Do You Embellish with Sequins?
Well, we came up with these mermaid sequin embellished jeans. My daughter is not the only one that loves them…we just may be working on a pair that fit yours truly next.
Note to parents: This is a great way to patch jeans when your kids inevitably tear them. I’m all about extending the life of my kids’ clothes. For kids that want some extra sparkle, these are a fun alternative to the quick patches you can purchase at the store…although JUST a bit more work. 😉
Here is what we did to make these sparkly jeans.
What You’ll Need
- A pair of distressed jeans (or a pair of jeans that you can cut holes into)
- Reversible mermaid sequin fabric (there are different kinds of sequin fabrics – all colors of the rainbow, stretchy sequin fabric, reversible sequin fabric (aka “flip sequins”), etc. Choose the one you love!)
- Fusible interfacing like Pellon 101
- Sewing needle
- Thread to match (or contrast with) your jeans
- Scissors (or a rotary cutter)
- Ironing Board
Step 1: Use Ripped, Distressed or “Holey” Jeans
Initially we planned to use a pair of jeans that my daughter needed patched – i.e., she put the holes in them herself from natural wear and tear. However, we chose to purchase a distressed pair of jeans in a size up to extend the life of how long she can wear them. Although we added our patches to distressed jeans, this would be a great way to patch jeans in pants that still fit – and extend the life of your child (or your own) jeans.
Step 2: Plan the Location of Your Patches
Choose which holes you want to patch and make sure each one is large enough to show off the sequin fabric patches that you will sew on the inside. We cut a couple of holes open wider so you can see more sequins. Measure the holes that you plan to patch.
Step 3: Cut Patches
Cut your patches from your sequin fabric with an extra 1/4 – 1/2 inch edge around each side. You’ll need to stitch around the edge of the patch and you want to have enough material to make it easy to work with. Sequin fabric is tricky so a little extra is helpful.
Cutting sequin fabric can be a messy experience. As you cut into your sequins, they will likely fly all over the place. That can also dull your scissors so if you decide to go this route, consider using an older pair of scissors on your sequin fabric and save your sharp fabric scissors for later.
Tip: You may want to wear protective glasses and keep your vacuum handy when you’re done cutting sequin fabric!
One way to minimize the challenge and messiness of cutting sequin fabric is to manually separate the sequins. The sequins on your fabric are laid out like fish scales – they all face the same way. Determine where you want to cut on your fabric and then “flip” the sequins on one side of that line so they face the opposite direction of the sequins on the other side of your line. This will give you a clear, “sequin free” path to cut across in your material. It’s crucial that all your sequins face the same way so your end product has a nice finish. When using two-tone sequin fabric (a.k.a. reversible sequin fabric), make sure the color that you want to show is facing down.
Tip: Another option is to use your seam ripper and remove all the sequins from the fabric that are outside the area you will see through the path. This will give you a “plain fabric” area to sew through rather than the sequins. (I didn’t have the patience for this but it’s a good idea.
Step 4: Use Fusible Interfacing to Line Patches (and hold everything in place!)
Our sequin fabric was rough on the wrong side, which made it feel scratchy against the skin. A quick and easy work-around is to use fusible interfacing to smooth out the wrong side (that will lie against the skin).
If you cut your interfacing to be larger than your sequin fabric patch, you can use it to iron your patch on to the inside of your jeans. This will help tremendously to hold your sequin fabric in place while you sew. In our case, the sequin fabric had zero stretch but the jeans had lots. Using the interfacing to hold the material in place made it much easier to stitch around the sequin fabric patch.
How do to this: turn your jean inside out. Place sequin patch over hole with sequin side facing the jeans. Place interfacing over the patch so that the ends overlap onto the jeans. Follow the instructions that came with your interfacing (usually thins means the textured/ gluey side should face the material you plan to fuse it to.)
NOTE: Be extremely careful when using fusible interfacing with sequins. If your iron temperature is too high, you can melt your sequins, damaging your material, your project and potentially your iron and board. Make sure to use a press cloth too.
Once your sequin fabric patch and interfacing fabric are lined up over the hole in your jeans, use your iron to press the patch to the denim. Make sure to use a press cloth.
Once your patch is fused to over the hole, you are ready to stitch around your patch to secure it in place and add a visual element too.
Step 5: Hand Stitch Around Your Sequin Fabric Patch
We tried using the sewing machine to sew the patches but the fabric literally pulled my sewing machine needle right out of the machine – twice. If you have your heart set on machine sewing your patches, make sure to use a heavy duty needle and possibly a heavy duty sewing machine too. That said, hand stitching the sequin fabric is the best way to go for this project since you can avoid actually sewing sequin itself. It’s time consuming and you’ll need some patience but it’s worth it. Just go slow and be careful.
Choose a thread color that will blend in to your jeans or completely stand out – that part is really a matter of taste and preference. We went with a light blue-silver that matched the denim material. Turn your jeans right side out so you can see the sequin through the holes in your jeans. Hand stitch around the outside of your patches. Since we used interfacing to attach the patch to the denim, the fabric stayed in place nicely while we added the stitching.
Repeat steps for all patches on your jeans.
Tip: The thing to consider when hand stitching sequins is that you’ll need to maneuver your needle in a way to find the holes in the sequins. It’s far easier to sew through the sequin holes than it is to sew through the sequin material. So, take your time and feel your way through the sequin fabric for the spots that allow your needle to slip through with minimal resistance.
Step 6: Flip Some Sequins and Enjoy Your Newly Elevated Jeans!
We absolutely love how these turned out. My kiddo is not a fan of plain blue jeans. She loves having unique, dazzling accessories that make her stand out. She’s obsessed with mermaids. These reversible mermaid sequin patch jeans make the mark all around.
What are Challenges to Expect When Sewing with Sequin Fabric?
Not easy to mark
Sequin material is not easy to mark and you definitely don’t want ink or market residue on your sequins. Instead of drawing a line, I suggest using your seam ripper to “flip” your sequins the opposite way along the line that you want to cut. Alternately you can completely remove the sequins where you want to cut. Another option is to skip the scissors altogether and use a rotary cutter against a ruler.
Messy to cut
Sequins end up everywhere when you cut them. Try the tequinique mentioned above to avoid cutting the sequins themselves – instead cut the fabric in between the sequins by flipping them over and revealing the “naked” fabric.” You’ll get less mess. You’ll probably find the odd stray sequin here and there but at least you won’t be finding them all over the place for month on end.
Tricky to Sew
Sequins can be tough on standard domestic sewing machines especially when sewn with denim like in this project. Consider using a heavy duty machine and needle. Or use patience and caution and go for hand stitching.
How Do You Embellish Jeans?
There are endless possibilities to embellish jeans from embroidery to patches, like ours. The above tutorial is a fun way to customize your jeans with your preference of sequined fabric. But you could use pretty much any fabric you want! My mother is planning to embellish her jeans with Tula Pink cameos in the holes so it looks like sassy witches are peaking through her jeans. Fun right?
Another idea is to use ready-made sequined patches available at stores like Joanne or Walmart. Some of them are iron-on so you don’t even need to bother with measuring and cutting. In that case, you can simply iron them on where you want them a – no need to use distressed jeans or put holes in for patching.
I’ve also seen some creative jeans embellished with large swatches of sequined fabric so they look like entire panels of sequins across the front of denim shorts. Really, it’s all up to you. Bottomline, sequins are a fun way to add sparkles and flash to an otherwise ordinary garment.
Can You Sew Sequin Fabric?
Yes, you definitely can sew through sequined fabric. I suggest using a heavy duty sewing machine and needle when sewing through sequin fabric AND denim, as in this project. Sequins are tough on sewing machines and needles (as I learned first hand) so make sure you have the right tools for the job. Hand stitching is easier because you can make sure to stitch through the sequin holes rather than sewing sequin itself.
All in all, this was an easy way to elevate standard jeans into something fun, unique and sparkly. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this project again when my kiddo outgrows her jeans.
If you make these, be sure to post a photo and let me see! I’ll update this post with my own mermaid jeans soon.