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Tutorial: How to add bands and sequins

Lauren is here to show you something fun. Lauren added bands and sequin to our Potens Sweater PDF sewing pattern. This sweater has a lightingbolt colorblock. Adding sequin works for this upcoming season. This style is something I’d wear myself. Now you can make yours. Follow the directions below, and do not forget to show us your result in our Facebook group or tag us on IG (@Sofilantjes_anne).

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Add bands to the Potens Sweater.

Adding bands is a very straightforward process. To keep the length the same, you have to account for the length of the band, plus seam allowance (and subtract from the hem allowance). I prefer a band that is 2-3″ tall. The seam allowance accounts for 3/8″ of that on each side when the band is folded in half, so whatever height you decide on, you want to use this formula: Finished Height times 2 plus seam allowance times 2. That total number is the height of your pattern piece. If you want to keep the length of the shirt the same, you have to remove this from the bottom of the shirt and sleeves, which also includes a 3/4″ hem allowance. So you’ll want to remove the hem allowance and the height of the band you’ve chosen BUT add back in a seam allowance of 3/8″.

For the width of the pattern piece, the simplest calculation is to measure the opening (bottom of sweater or bottom of sleeves) and multiply by 0.85 to get a piece that is 85% the size of the opening, and then remember to add in a seam allowance of 3/8″ on each side. Now that you’ve calculated your hemband and wristband pattern pieces’ height and width, you can start cutting. Sew and attach them as you would any band.

Now that I’ve told you the correct way to do it, let me tell you the quick and technically incorrect way I did it because I was set on making an oversized sweater. First, I wanted to make this Potens out of a sweater knit, and I wanted it to be comfortable over a shirt. I decided to size up in the chest by 2 sizes. This size coincidentally corresponded with my child’s height size, but I decided to add bands on top of this for extra length, a more oversized look, and longer wear. I followed the same steps I described above to determine the dimensions of the band pattern pieces. I would say that the torso length of the sweater is a bit longer than I intended, but the sleeves are just what I intended. Also keep in mind that I am working with a size 12 height, which means that a random 2 inches added in band length is less impact than if you are making a size 3. Think through how you want your Potens with bands to fit and look, and use these hack directions just as a general guide to get you to realize your vision. And have fun with other medium weight fabrics!

Use reversible sequin fabric for the lightning flash

Full disclosure: I have never sewn with sequin fabric before! As with my first hack, I had a vision of what this might look like, and I took some risks. I’m sure you can improve on this hack with my tips as a starting point. 

I prepared to sew the Potens pieces with lightning flash. Pieces 10b1 and 10b2 (the lightning flash) would be cut from the sequin fabric. You do NOT want to use your fabric scissors on sequin fabric, as it will dull them. I started with kitchen scissors, but I realized quickly that I could easily cut through the sequins using a rotary blade against a ruler. (Prepare for a sequin explosion in your sewing space as you begin to cut!) The rotary blade is dulled, but you could replace it. You can even keep the dulled blade and label it “sequin” for your next project. Be sure you arrange your pattern pieces so that the sequins go the same direction in both pattern pieces, using the direction of stretch marking as a guide.

Other tips online suggested that I should remove the sequins in the seam allowance, sew down the center of a row of sequins, or cut the tips off the sequins in the seam allowance with scissors and then pick them out. I will try these tips the next time I would like sewing one shirt to take me fourteen hours. (To be honest, I started and realized it would take me way too long.) I do think that if I had followed this advice, it would help when I am flipping to the other color of reversible sequins. The way that I sewed it, some of the blue sequins are caught in the seam allowance, so they cannot flip to red sequins.)

Sources on the internet said I could sew through sequins with a sharp needle, but to look out for needle breakage and replace the needle after sewing the sequins. This sounded like a great starting point to me! Fortunately, my sewing machine is a workhorse and had no issues with the needle going off course or breaking while I was sewing. I sewed all the sequins on my sewing machine to spare my serger! 

Once I had sewed the lightning flash, I assembled the front of the shirt per the pattern directions. However, I realized that the inner front of the shirt was going to be scratchy with the back of the sequin fabric touching my son’s skin. To solve this, I printed out pattern piece 9 from View B of the Potens pattern. I cut a piece of jersey fabric using pattern piece 9, and I placed it over the four lightning flash pieces but on the wrong side/inside of the shirt. Before sewing it down, I used my kitchen scissors to trim the sequined seam allowances at top and bottom of the flash so the pattern piece 9 completely covered the sequins, encasing them. I then topstitched this piece down, sewing from the inside and using a stretch stitch. (Remember, your bobbin thread will show on the front of the shirt if you sew from the inside.)

From this point, I sewed the rest of the Potens Sweater as normal! 

I’d love to hear your sequin sewing tips if you have tried sequins before. If you are inspired by either of these hacks, please post your finished products in Sofilantjes Patterns Sew and Show


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