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What are Sequins?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 21, 2024
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Sequins are tiny spangles used as decorations, usually on clothes or other fabric treatments. They are often round in shape but may also be other available in other shapes as well, and they can be found in many different colors. Sequins can be made of many different materials from metals and crystals to gem-like stones, but today are frequently made of plastic.

The origin of sequins is said to be traced back to the ancient Mediterranean. A type of coin, known as a sikka was later translated into today’s term “sequin.” Legend has it that these coins were sewn onto clothing, especially women’s clothes, as a show of wealth. Different types of scarves and other dress were embellished with sequins, which was likely done not only to show wealth but to also keep coins safe, since they were worn on one’s person. The look was apparently attractive to other cultures and eventually became more of a fashion statement.

Sequins glitter and shine and when used to embellish clothing and accessories, they create a festive, dressy feel. A sequined dress is often seen as formal and may be accompanied by a sequined bag. These items are most often worn as evening apparel. Other items such as wraps, scarves, belts, hair accessories, and more may be trimmed with sequins and may be worn at any time.

Embellishing fabrics with sequins can be done in different ways. The entire article of clothing or an accessory such as a purse may be covered completely in sequins or they can be arranged to form designs, images, or patterns. Sequins are also frequently used as trim. They may be stitched so that they align with the edge of the fabric or they may overhang. They can also be sewn on flush against the fabric. They are less likely to fall off or to pull off easily when sewn on flush.

Sequins are also used in making a variety of costumes. They can be used to embellish professional costumes for performers such as dancers or skaters or for amateur dance and gymnastic recitals. Other ensembles ornamented with sequins may be less formal such as a Halloween or other holiday costume.

Many craft items are also made using sequins. Animals and other creatures made in craft projects may have sequins as eyes. Dolls clothes may be decorated with them as well, and they can be used to add sparkle to crafts often to mimic the look of snow, light, water, or jewels.

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Discussion Comments
By elizabeth23 — On Jul 26, 2011

@BambooForest- I have the same problem! I once wore a black dress with pink glitter to homecoming in high school. That was my sophomore year, and in college I was still finding bits of pink glitter in my car. Amazing.

However, reading that sequins and beads would be made out of things like coins as well, I imagine walking around with an outfit covered in those might be problematic too. It would definitely be really heavy.

By BambooForest — On Jul 25, 2011

I love clothing with sequins and glitter, and did even more when I was in high school. The problem with a lot of modern sequin fabric is that it is really cheap, so the embellishments fall off, and the clothes just don't look nearly as good without them.

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