How to Make a Sequined Gator Shirt

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It’s no secret that I love sequins. I’m a lot like a fish because I’m attracted to anything shiny or sparkly, so the day I drove past a college girl wearing a Victoria’s Secret Florida Gator hoodie, my head about spun around 360 degrees. Since then I’ve been watching some of the Victoria’s Secret University of Florida stuff on eBay, but everything is so expensive… plus they’re all Barbie sizes, so there’s no point in buying a hoodie that’s too small for my plus size frame.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for me to start planning how to make a sequined Gator shirt. Conceptualized problem solving is kind of my thing. I’ve been wanting to design a jacket or hoodie for myself by making my own pattern, but for this project I decided that I would save the pattern making for another day. I found the perfect hoodie in Lane Bryant’s line of active wear, so I purchased a blue one in my size. It’s fairly lightweight and very soft… something that I’d like wearing even without putting any work into it.

Once I had the hoodie part covered, I just needed to decide what sized sequins I should use and whether I wanted them pre-strung together on a spool or if I wanted to go with loose sequins. I knew I definitely wanted to use holographic sequins because of the extra bling factor, so I decided on these 8mm holographic sequins (shown below). I bought orange and silver since I’d be sewing on a blue sweatshirt. I ended up using loose sequins for this project, but I started working on a Tampa Bay Lightning shirt around the same time and used the pre-strung spool of sequins for that shirt. In my experience, the pre-strung sequins were easier to keep even, organized, and sew in a straight line… but I think there’s also something to be said for the freedom that comes with loose sequins. It’s easier to create a fish scale look using loose sequins and I like the idea of having the freedom to create whatever look I want. Another potential down side to the pre-strung spool of sequins is the string connecting them because the string isn’t very stealth… the spools I’ve seen have white string that’s pretty darn noticeable, so that’s a deal-breaker for me.

           

   

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I decided that on the front of my sweatshirt I would sew “Gators” in the classic script font. I measured the width of the front of the sweatshirt and decided how wide I wanted to go with the design. Then I printed the logo by tiling the print job in Adobe Illustrator. (You can download the PDF that I used here, and I’ll demonstrate how to piece it together in the video link.) Then I glued my printed logo to a piece of poster board because I wanted the template to be sturdy and reusable. Once the glue was dry I cut out the letters and – * Voilà! * – the perfect re-usable template.

The next step was to trace the template onto my hoodie. I was going to do this using a fabric (chalk) pen, but it was very difficult to trace while keeping the template steady, so I used a black sharpie to outline my template as lightly as possible. I knew the outline would be completely covered by sequins, so it wasn’t a big deal if it was permanent or washable.

I was a little scared to start sewing, but once I got going I was able to picture how I would proceed with each letter. I started with the silver outline of the “S” and then filled in the center area with the orange sequins. So I started working from right to left, but there’s really no reason for that. I guess I figured that if I messed up the “S” it would be less noticeable than if I messed up the “G.”

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One thing to keep in mind while you’re sewing… Don’t make your stitches too tight! You want the tension to be enough to keep in place, but not so much that it pulls your sequins out of alignment. If you look at the “S” you can see that the silver line isn’t completely smooth – this is because I made my stitches too tight.

I was really digging the fish scale look and ended up kind of modifying the layout by the end, so the finished product isn’t exactly the same the entire way across. The last few letters turned out especially well because I was able to secure both sides of the sequin without a bunch of extra stitches. I also found that it was easier to secure it with two stitches right away rather than sew everything down and then try to go back and add extra stitches for reinforcement. Doing this also made it look neater on the underside of the shirt, not that it really matters, but it could potentially mean less itch if you’re sewing on something that will go directly on your skin. (I normally wear this with at least a tank underneath, so there’s some fabric between the shirt and my skin.) I haven’t thought of a good way to add an under layer of fabric because you can’t iron something on if you have sequins on the other side due to the melting potential, but for now I’m happy with the results.





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