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Black Sequined Velvet Jacket

Yes you read the title right - Sequin AND Velvet! My reactions exactly when I spotted this incredible fabric among Minerva’s amazing new range of sequined fabrics earlier this year. If I'm honest, my first thought was this: I can't possibly handle this much frosting! Some other fabulous sewing personality maybe, but surely not me?
But here's the thing with sewing and I'm sure you know that too... Once something gets in your head, sometimes you just can't rest until it's done. And here I am a few months later, having now sewn both sequin AND velvet for the very first time, and to tell you this fact: it was absolutely worth it and totally satisfying! I know - I wouldn't have believed you either! Let me start from the beginning...
When I first received this fabric from Minerva I actually had to brace myself before opening the package. And it was even more amazing than I imagined. The stretch velvet base is a true black with the most supple and soft hand and drapes like a dream. There are 3 choices for sequins: black, gold and silver. I chose the black on black and it is simply stunning. The sequins might look more silver than black in the photos because, would you know it, black sequins on black velvet has got to be one of the most difficult thing to photograph. In order to show you the beautiful sequins I have to photo them as they catch the light - thus the silvery sheen!
There's just something so magical about the matte finish of the velvet contrasting with the sparkles of the sequin. It reminds me of vintage coats / smoking jackets you might see in a period drama like Downton Abbey. Meanwhile, the tiny sequins are delicately scatters in geometric patterns of dots and circles, which gives the fabric a modern edge. 
Now if I were in a sewing contest (don't we all imagine this from time to time?), I would without hesitation make a jaw-dropping full length jumpsuit like the Deer and Doe Sirocco (and no doubt win this imaginary contest ;-)). There's simply nothing more perfect for this fabric!
However in real life, I have no occasion to wear this stunner to and would hate for it to sit in the closet. I know a velvet jacket with added sparkles will be worn, treasured and loved every holiday season. I chose a TNT self drafted pattern based loosely on McCalls 6844, which continues to be so popular in the sewing community even after it was officially discontinued. My version was heavily modified over time and really could be hacked from any simple knit cardigan pattern out there. The Simplicity 8377 would be an excellent starting point. A circular peplum could easily be added to achieve the same look. In fact, the S8377 has a narrower neckband which works really great with this fabric - I will get to this later.
So once I decided to take on the challenge with a can-do attitude, I actually had a lot of fun doing research on both sewing with sequins and velvet. Thankfully there are ton of knowledge out there on each, but interesting I didn't find any resources on sewing with both at the same time. So hopefully my little post here can be of help to other brave souls out there trying out sequined velvet. Spoiler Alert: it is much easier than you might have imagined...
Let's talk about sequins. So here are the 2 main things I learned about sewing with sequined fabric and how it worked out for me. First of all: sew through or not. Some sequins are small enough to be sewn through, while larger ones might need to be clipped and removed from the seam allowance. My sequins are tiny and a regular 90/14 needle sews through them with no issues at all.
Secondly, linings and seam finishes. No one likes scratchy clothes so it is customary to line and conceal raw edges of a sequined garment. Some sequined fabrics are also sheer so lining is doubly called for. My black velvet here is as opaque as they come and the back of the fabric is actually quite smooth, save for the tiny stitches that secure the sequins. You might well be able to forgo a lining if you wish. However, in that case you need to somehow bind the seam allowances to avoid scratchy seams. I chose to line the bodice and sleeves with a black lightweight jersey knit fabric, but left the peplum unlined as it doesn't hug the body.
Now getting to the velvet part, which turned out so different from what I anticipated. I've read through all those tips about the do's and don'ts, especially around the pressing and ironing over special surfaces or at least towels, so as not to crush the velvet. I then thought of my added sequins and how that might throw me a curve ball in the already complicated pressing game? Enough stress points? Well wouldn't it shock you to hear that in the end, not a single time did an iron touch my precious fabric? Yes that's right - this incredible fabric does NOT need pressing. Sew your seam and press it flat with your fingers, smoothing out the sequins and that's it! Are you doing a happy dance there with me?
As advised with all velvet fabrics, I did lay out my pattern pieces with nap (in the same direction). Apart from that, sewing with velvet for the first time turned out a complete non-event for me. The hidden pleasant surprise with this magical fabric is this: the sequins and velvet kind of helps each other out in the sewing process. The sequins add a little traction to the slippery velvet, and the velvet acts like a cushion for the sequins. The end result - brace yourselves - is like sewing through a good sturdy cotton canvas! Smooth sailing and completely addictive!
Another fun added bonus point for this fabric is the wide selvage - a good 3-inch-ish wide of pure smooth velvet with no sequins on it. When used with the right pattern and pattern pieces, this velvet strip can easily be turned into smooth neckbands, collars, facings and cuffs that touch your skin. For my jacket, the neckband is a long continuous strip folded in two lengthwise, as in the S8377. So I simply cut it along the selvage, with the fold line between sequined and non-sequined areas. After the lengthwise fold, I sewed it on with the smooth side against the skin and the sequins side out. No sequin removal needed and the velvet feels so luxuriously soft around the neck.
Last but not least, I highly recommend using a stretch lace hem tape for any edge/seam finishing you need to do in this fabric. In this case I used it two bind the hem of the peplum. Conventionally the hem tape is sewn to the hem first before turning the hem up and sewing the tape down. But I really wanted to preserve the gorgeous drape of the velvet by keeping bulk to the minimum at the circular hem. So instead I folded the hem tape in half and used it as a binding over the raw edge. No turning needed and the tape encloses the edge catching any sequins that might otherwise come loose. The black lace blends in almost invisibly with the fabric. You can also use a satin bias tape to achieve a similar look.
So here you are, another sewing story that proves the proverbial "never say never". I am so thankful for Minerva running this fun sequin challenge and am amazed everyday by the talents and projects shared here on the blog. I am so glad that I took on two firsts despite the initial doubts, and now am the proud owner of this most beautiful one of a kind garment. True luxury has to be firstly comfortable in my book, and this jacket is just that. I'm looking forward to many holiday seasons wrapped up in my cozy sparkly velvety frosting.
Until next time, Chloe
Instagram: @no.idle.hands

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