To Sew or Not to Sew (Or- how in the heck do I apply all these sequins!)

| September 25, 2009 | 1 Comment

flag with sequins attachedWe’ve all seen beautiful flags, glistening in the contest afternoon sunshine, alive and vibrant with carefully applied sequins.  Gorgeous, fabulous, and let’s face it one more thing we can apply sparkle to in the fall, these flags can enhance the design aspect of any show.  So, you jump onto the sequin band wagon, but then comes the tricky part: how in the heck do you apply them? What sequins do I use??  How do I find thread to match the flags??? And let’s not forget the most important one: how will I ever get this done in time?!?!

Idea #1: Ready-Made Stickers

The first thought that came to my mind was the readily available adhesives from most band supply companies.  Typically available in gold, silver, or iridescent, these affordable little circles and stars are right up a budget conscious programs alley.  I have to say-I’ve used them before and have been pleased.  There is little reapplication required, and they’re available in large quantities per spool.  I do recommend applying them in the same position on the flag, or ‘back to back.’  The only con I’ve found with these is that the come in such a limited variety of colors.

Pros: Easily available, easy to apply!         Cons: Lack of a variety of colors

Idea #2: Prism Tape and a Hole Punch

Another adhesive option involves ordering mirror or prism tape, and using scrapbooking hole punch tools to cut out your shapes.  You can get any color the tape is available in, but the man hours involved go up significantly.  Using the scrapbooking punches, you’re also able to have a wide variety of shapes available. You may have to have some Goo B Gone on hand to clean the tools off though.  The tape adhesive can leave residue and make the large number of punches required tricky.  One final thought on the method:  the adhesive used on tape is much stronger than on the circles and stars.  Be careful placing these on flags because exposure to high heat will leave residue on the silk.

Pros:  Color, Color, Color!  Easy application    Cons: Tons of hole punching, stronger adhesive may damage your flag.

Idea #3: Flat Sequins and Craft Glueflag with flat sequins and craft glue

I have to give credit on this next method to Northeast Independent Winter Guard.  We ran out of time on our application process this fall, and Jill Brennan’s advice bailed us out big time.  Jill recommends using flat sequins (some craft stores refer to them as paillettes) and E6000 craft glue.  The sequins are available in a fairly wide range of diameters and colors, but most are round or oval shaped.  Second, make sure you get the small hole sequins: glue may seep through the large hole when you apply them.  We applied ours ‘back to back’ as per Jill’s recommendation.  Boy was she right!  The glue does leave a visible residue on the other side, but it can be completely covered by the second sequin.  We used a toothpick to apply a thin layer of the glue to the back of the each sequin so we wouldn’t over-apply.   Each flag also needed to be lain out to dry for several hours.  And there is always the danger of gluing the flags (or your fingers) to themselves.

Pros:  Fabulous sequins! Beautiful colors and finishes        Cons: Glue can be messy, drying time

Idea #4: Sewing and Tylenol

The last method is to suck it up and sew them on (and when I say suck it up, I mean get out your thimble and your Tylenol). We did this on our Mvt 1 flags, and while it’s gorgeous beyond belief, we quickly realized we wouldn’t be able to get Mvts 2 and 3 applied in the same method, and frantically e-mailed NEI for advice.  When sewn, the sequins will move and vibrate on the flag while in motion-it’s a really beautiful effect to have.  The best thread we found for the job is the clear nylon thread (like what most flags are made with) that is available at sewing and craft stores.  We used the same flat, small hole sequins for this job as for the NEI glue method mentioned above, but large hole, or textured sequins can also be used with the same effect.  Here’s the big issue with sewn sequins:  they HAVE to be done individually, and it takes an army of guard moms forever to get this done.  Our moms attached each ‘back to back’ set individually, by hand.  While it may be tempting to consider using slip stitch (where you use the same thread to sew the strand) consider this:  what happens when the thread breaks and you loose all your sequins on the field/floor?

Pros: Gorgeous like you won’t believe!    Cons: Time consuming!!! Did I mention, time consuming?!?!

Overall, this is a design choice that can easily be used to enhance your show on any budget.  Loose sequins are the more expensive route to go, but they are so beautiful on the flags.  Adhesives are a budget friendly and time conscious alternative.  Keep in mind that any method will occasionally loose a sequin or two, so get your contest day kit ready for repairs to be made.    Oh, and be ready to answer when everyone asks how you did it .


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Category: "DIY", Design, Equipment Management/Logistics, Equipment, Floors & Props, Instruction

About the Author (Author Profile)

Sara Field is the guard program director for Lake Hamilton Public Schools, near Hot Springs, AR, overseeing the High School and Junior High fall and winter guards. Under her tenure the guard program has grown to involve over 130 performers through the fall and winter seasons. She is a graduate of Henderson State University, where she performed as a color guard member for the Showband of Arkansas. Though her performance background began with baton (hence the love of all things glitter), Sara has taught guard across Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma. Sara is an active clinician and adjudicator for numerous winter guard circuits. She is proud to have served as a staff member for the past five WGI World Championships. Sara and her husband Bryan live in Pearcy, AR, with their son Liam.

Comments (1)

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  1. Samantha says:

    Our colorguard used large sequins from Hobby Lobby and craft fabric glue. It worked pretty well when you glued them back to back, but some reapplying was necessary.

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