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Bridge Open Seams with Beads and Sequins

Bridge open seams with sparkling accents

Threads Issue #212, Dec. 2020/Jan. 2021
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Create light, delicate-looking garments by joining seams with sequins and beads.

Accent seamlines and garment edges with hand-sewn sequin and bead clusters that bridge the gap between separate rolled edges. Joining seams by hand with beaded accents is a labor of love that yields unique garments with a visual pop and a subtle peekaboo effect. The technique dresses up a favorite pattern for an easy, unlined, special-occasion look. Depending on the fabric you choose, your jacket, top, or dress will be light and airy or soft and drapey. The beads provide a little weight, and clever engineering gives the garment structure.

Start with a pattern that fits well and has been tested for ease of movement. This seaming technique is best for loose-fitting styles that have little, if any, stress on the seams. This does not suggest that the garment must be oversized, however. A natural or slightly dropped shoulder line and ample, but not excessive, wearing ease through the body is the goal.

Fit For Art Patterns Tabula Rasa Jacket
Add glittering embellishments and an airy feel to simple silhouettes. Pattern: Fit For Art Patterns Tabula Rasa Jacket, modified. Fabric: vintage silk, the author’s stash. Sequins and beads:

Straight seamlines are also advised. The more curved the seams are, the more difficult it is to execute the beaded connections. Choose garments that are shaped with a few well-placed darts, leaving seams as elements for decoration. Add some seams following the straight grain or cross-grain just to show off the technique. Plan to use standard seams or exposed rolled-edge seams in areas like the underarm, where there is a lot of body friction or where the beads will be uncomfortable.

It’s important to test the materials and techniques before starting the garment. Try threads and serger settings to get the effect you want for rolled hems, adding interfacing or facings as needed for stability. Then play with combinations of sequins and beads. This testing phase is fun and creative, and it ensures that the finished garment will be easier to assemble without glitches.

Coordinate the materials

Take some time to gather an interesting group of materials and create test swatches. Fabric, thread, and sequins or beads must be coordinated carefully for a pleasing result.


sheer fabric
Lining a sheer fabric, such as organza, adds support and opacity.


Drapey fabrics stitch into a soft garment with movement. Plain-weave rayons are an excellent choice for a first project: They are not too slippery or thick but are stable enough to form a nice serged rolled hem. Add facings, if desired, for support.


Sheer fabrics, such as chiffon or georgette, are a dramatic choice. The rolled seams are support enough for the breezy beaded connections. For support in fitted areas, as well as opacity, opt for a lining or underlining, rather than facings.


Crisp fabrics yield a garment with body. These fabrics can stand up to novelty or metallic threads for the rolled edge.


Rae Cumbie is a pattern designer who creates versatile designs that are well suited for a wide range of embellishment techniques.

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