THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 29, 2009

Oh! The Things You’ll Sew

Filed under: Designing,Fabric,sewing — georgene @ 9:43 pm

There seems to be a boatload of glittery fabric, as always, at this time of year. I was at my local independant fabric store where this display confirmed my suspicions that heat transfer sequins are the glitter fabric of choice. I am having my own moment of agony with this fabric, and thought some of you might also be in the throes of working with it too.


I just finished the first half of my year as artist-in-residence as costumer in the Theatre Tech department at San Francisco School of the Arts.  The upcoming  production is Seussical: The Musical. There is a heavy Cirque de Soleil element in the show, as SOTA  has a circus arts program included in the dance department. All of the cast and crew are in full body unitards, so costuming this is whimsical and fun.

 Though many of the costumes are created by the students, I have been asked to make some of the principal characters. Imagine my horror when the director brought me 3 yards of this tissue thin lurex jersey with heat transfer sequins to make the Ringmaster’s tailcoat.

The first thing I did was block-fuse the entire yardage with a medium weight tricot fusible. For this task I put a beach towel on my cutting table, laid the sequin fabric face down with the fusible on top, fusing the 2 layers together. Only then did I cut the jacket. For the pattern I adapted a Burda menswear jacket from the 1980’s.

I fused an additional layer of weft insertion on the collar and lapel facing, as the fabric was still pretty soft and drapey. I used a matching color of cotton for the undercollar. I did tape the roll line and around the lapel edges just to give some kind of structure to this otherwise limp piece of goods.

The real problems started when I sat down to sew and the machine absolutely refused to stitch – missing stitches, gummed up needle –  all the nightmares you can imagine. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I remembered Diva Ann’s advice to use wax paper while sewing this kind of fabric. It worked like a charm.

Just tear away the wax paper and your seam is perfect.

I was amazed at how well this fabric tailored up.

To finish the edge of the tails I used a lurex flat border from an old sweater project that was a perfect match. Lurex fiber comes in standard colors, so I am guessing that this royal blue is the same, even though the sweater project had to be about 10 years ago. I am hoping that the director agrees with me that the unlined tails are a good thing  – just say no to lining this!

The bi-colored look for the Ringmaster is a nice touch added by the director. (Somewhere there is another pair of black/white boots just like these.) The hat is probably a Mad Hatter hat from Alice in Wonderland.



  1. I am so impressed by how you managed to deal with that fabric. Brava!

    Comment by eruditeslacker — December 29, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  2. Well done! It looks beautiful!

    Comment by DianeY — December 29, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

  3. Wow! That’s not something you see every day. Fantastic job.

    Comment by Claudine — December 30, 2009 @ 7:37 am

  4. Oh wow! Very smart work with what could be a potentially disastrous fabric. I will definitely remember these tips, as dance comp season is just about here in my part of the world.

    What a dream job. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, you don’t have to deal with these fabrics or people!” You certainly have the skills, experience and vision for this position, so enjoy.

    Comment by Summerset — December 30, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  5. Yay!!! It looks fantastic and I’m so glad that tip worked for you. I think I got it originally from Linda Stewart of ASDP and it saved my sanity on a project. Your’s turned out great!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — December 30, 2009 @ 9:12 am

  6. Such a simple easy trick to solve a horrendous nightmare! Good thing Ann shared it and you remembered 🙂 too. As per theater protocol: Break a leg, Georgene

    Comment by Mary Beth — December 30, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  7. I did a red version of this for someone’s Halloween costume ( and wish I had known about wax paper before I started! I had to stop every once in a while to clean the needle off (I used rubbing alcohol).

    Nice job on yours! 🙂

    Comment by katie C — December 30, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  8. Wonderful costume! The wax paper trick is priceless. Thanks.

    Comment by Bunny — December 30, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  9. I must check this site more frequently. You are far more accomplished than I. Among other things I sewed for my grandchildren for Christmas was a bucket with fish that they can toss for a game…they are two and four. How wonderful the jersey with the sequins –(fish scales) would be~~I thought. I spent almost as much time making the fish as I did a small quilt. But–I made the 8 fish three times before I was happy. I wound up putting tissue paper under my seams….but now I know what was all over my needle. Great jacket…superb job… A lot for me to learn here~!

    Comment by Marilyn — December 30, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  10. That fabric made a terrific costume. I have heat-set sequin fabric, but have never found quite what to make with it. Thanks for the wax-paper tip.

    Comment by Gwen — December 30, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

  11. Hey Georgene – the end is definitely in sight! Expecting a post on the fur too. Heather

    Comment by luckylibbet — December 30, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  12. The costume is fabulous. Great job.

    Comment by Trudy Callan — December 31, 2009 @ 2:05 am

  13. Several years ago I helped sew new shirts for my daughter’s mounted drill team. (In other words, the girls ride their horses in complicated patterns. Pretty neat to see.) Of course the girls and their advisors picked this exact same heat transfer sequin fabric. Even the same color. One of the other mothers gave me a tip. Use liquid silicone, like Sewer’s Aid, on the needle. It worked like a charm! Hardly any skipping, no gummy needle.

    Comment by Amy May — December 31, 2009 @ 2:44 am

  14. Thanks for sharing the wax paper tip, the tailcoat you made looks fantastic.

    Comment by Els — December 31, 2009 @ 7:42 am

  15. What beautiful work you do! And thanks for the wax paper tip.

    Linda T

    Comment by vernonfashionstudio — December 31, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

  16. I’m really impressed with how beautiful the coat came out and the styling with the black and white boots is really on the mark with Dr. Seuss! Good luck with the rest of the costumes!

    Comment by SewistObsessed — January 1, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

  17. Fantastic! I’ve been thinking about costume design a lot lately — wish I’d studied it, as I love research and sewing projects with context, if you know what I mean. Happy new year to you —

    Comment by Lainie — January 2, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

  18. From another Mary Beth: we have all that glitter fabric in the silk room at Vogue Fabrics…it’s nice to know what to do with it. Someday. Somehow. Somewhere!

    Comment by M — January 3, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  19. I found the info spot on. I have always been terrified of this type of fabric. Now I am going to give it a go. There is always something to learn.

    Comment by Gail Young — January 3, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  20. Beautiful coat

    Comment by Alethia — January 3, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  21. Georgene this is so funny because when DH was in a 12 peice show band a few years ago I made him and the lead singers gig clothes of the same fabric! (same color too) I also had to block fuse it because that glitter fabric is pretty itchy.

    Comment by Phyllis — January 4, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  22. WAX PAPER! I lost my mind with that same fabric when making figure skating costumes, so much so that I swore I’d never sew on it again. I surely will use wax paper if I’m ever cornered into using that sequin crap again.

    Comment by Marty — January 5, 2010 @ 12:01 am

  23. And thanks for the tiny sneak peak inside Piedmont Fabrics – I’ve been meaning to make it over there since the demise of Poppy!

    Comment by Cynth — January 5, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  24. Ahrrrr!!!!
    I just spend an hour at least here, but in fact i’m at work i shouldn’t have, couldn’t stop. Thanks for sharing all that.
    I’ve to come back either to see all links to Madeleine Vinonnet, i knew

    see u later

    Comment by sensoussi — January 6, 2010 @ 7:57 am

  25. u must be in Paris now, have qood sales and visit

    Comment by sensoussi — January 6, 2010 @ 7:58 am

  26. What a fabulous job with such a difficult fabric.
    My costumes are not as tailored, but I have worked with that stuff a fair bit. I usually interface satin and then underline with it. Then, I have to admit, I resort to spray glue to attach the lurex to the satin. Ugh…
    Please keep posting the rest of your costumes!

    Comment by Paddy — January 10, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

  27. From another Mary Beth: we have all that glitter fabric in the silk room at Vogue Fabrics…it’s nice to know what to do with it. Someday. Somehow. Somewhere

    Comment by new jordan — August 9, 2010 @ 4:03 am

  28. Absolutely impressed with how beautiful the coat thank for smart tips and i look forward to see your next collection !

    Comment by Gclub — August 9, 2010 @ 4:24 am

  29. wow its remind me of MJ(michael jackson ) wearing the black and blue cloths…

    Comment by labels — November 16, 2010 @ 10:28 am

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