How to use real metal sequins
If your idea of sequins is more "Las Vegas" than "History Museum," we want to introduce you to Paillettes. These real-metal orbs will add elegance, classy detail, and a touch of history to your needlework designs. Far from flashy, these embellishments are about as sophisticated as you can get. Even better: they aren't expensive, and they are easy to use (easier than beads! they don't roll around!). Let's talk about paillettes, part of the Kreinik embellishment line since the 1980s.
What are these magical orbs?
Paillettes are like gold or silver sequins, but the opposite of plastic versions you're seeing in pop culture right now, such as mermaid-style pillows, glitzy wardrobes, and gypsy inspired makeup. Paillettes (pronounced "pie yetts") like these are:
- made of real gold and real silver
- firm, strong rather than bendable
- flat (not cupped or bowl-like shaped)
- found in history museums on samplers, couture fashions, textiles of the nobility and more
- used by needleworkers today in samplers, needlepoint, stumpwork, crazy quilting, embroidery, and costume design
Why use real metal sequins in your needlework?
The point of these paillettes is that they are real metal. Use them in place of synthetics (plastic) to elevate a design, adding a level of elegance. They will add a unique texture, a visual element, and a regal look. In needlework today, stitchers use them in many ways such as:
- background dots
- sampler bands
- goldwork and real metal designs
- to replicate things like fish scales and stars in a night sky
- as round elements on geometric designs
- embellish a regal themed design
- as eyes, berries, apples or other round objects
How to attach paillettes
- Use your needle to pick up a paillette through its center hole
- Use a few straight stitches or a decorative stitch to 'tack" it down: bring the needle and thread up in the center of the paillette, and back down on the outside edge of the paillette
- Use a clear thread, a matching metallic thread or silk thread, or a contrasting metallic or silk thread, depending on the look you want
- You can also attach a bead on top, securing the paillette beneath
Where can you get paillettes?
These embellishments come in a variety of sizes, most often in gold or silver. You can buy packages of paillettes for a few dollars. Most are sold by weight, as in 1-gram packages. Note: the larger the paillette, the fewer you will get in a package (larger weighs more), so when you order a size, check to see how many you will get. If you are working on a design, try to count or estimate how many paillettes you will need.
The frequently asked question
Will they tarnish? As with any metal, they can tarnish over time but respond well to polishing. Kreinik's paillettes are ecclesiastical grade, meaning they are treated to prevent tarnishing. Will time ruin embroidery made with paillettes? Not if the textile has been taken care of, ie, not exposed to the elements, not washed (dry clean if necessary), etc. Treat the embroidery like the valuable textile it is, made from your valuable time and creative dreams.
Have no fear about working with them. If you've been wanting to experiment with real metal threads but are intimidated or not sure where to start, start with paillettes. They are easy to use and will get you hooked on the look of real metal embellishments. Can you think of places to use them in a design you're stitching now?