Here's a way to spruce up a simple black dress to give yourself some 8-bit street cred. Because that's a thing.
Inspired by a black dress with small pink spots that reminded me of the star-field from the 80's arcade game Galaga, I decided to add the iconic ship and a couple of missiles to the dress.
- 1 black dress
- needle and thread
- about 100 6mm square white sequins
- about 40 6mm square red sequins
- 4 6mm square blue sequins
- (optional) assorted 6mm square sequins for star-field
The dress used here came from eShakti. It doesn't appear to be available with the pink dot material anymore. However, any black dress of similar style will do. The sequins can be purchased on EBay from this seller.
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Step 1: Planning and Layout
I started with a close-up image from the Internet of the ship, and reconstructed it using sequins on a black background. I then drew a template on a scrap of paper to aid with the assembly later.
(Originally, I had purchased some magenta sequins in order to add to the star-field, but ended up not using them.)
I tried different spacings between the sequins and ultimately decided to use a 3/8" (9.5mm) grid. Each sequin is approximately 1/4" with 1/8" between adjacent them.
Using this information, the size of the entire ship is 5.5" x 5.875" (140mm x 149mm).
Start by locating where on the dress you want the bottom center of the ship to be located, and mark that point using a normal pencil.
Step 2: Sewing the First Sequin
Using a ruler, draw a vertical line in pencil where the center column of sequins will go. Make 16 cross marks on the line every 3/8" (9.5mm) to indicate where the centers of the sequins will go. The pencil line is not very visible in the pictures for this step.
Use enough thread to sew the full length of the row and back with enough extra for the starting and ending knots and at least 6" (150mm) for the needle and slack. A good rule of thumb for this is about 3 times the length of the row. Although not necessary, I tend to double my thread for hand sewing for the added strength, so I use about 6 times the row length of thread. In any case, err on the side of having extra thread.
Thread the needle and put a knot where the bottom center of the first sequin will go. This is 1/8" below the bottom cross mark. Thread the first sequin (white) and run the needle through the center of the first cross mark. Pass the needle back through to the top side mid-way between the upper edge of the sequin and the next cross mark (1/8" above the sequin). Pull the thread tight enough to make the sequin lie flat, but not so tight that the fabric starts to gather.
Step 3: The Rest of the Column
Thread the next sequin (white) and pass the needle through the next cross mark. As with the first sequin, pass the needle back through to the top side mid-way between the upper edge of the sequin and the next cross mark (1/8" above the sequin). Pull the thread tight enough to make the sequin lie flat, but not so tight that the fabric starts to gather. Repeat this process for the rest of the sequins in this row. On the last sequin, however, pass the needle back through to the top side at the top of that sequin (1/8" above the center of the sequin).
The color sequence for the entire row is: 6 white sequins, followed by 2 red sequins, followed by 8 white sequins.
Once the last sequin is in place, run the thread back down the row in the opposite direction. For each sequin, pass the needle through the center of the sequin and the fabric so that it comes out the back. Run the needle back through to the top side at the top of the next sequin. When looking at the back of the fabric, this location is roughly the midpoint of the next visible stitch (see picture).
When you reach the end (back where you started), knot the thread well and trim off the excess with scissors.
Step 4: The Rest of the Rows
Measure 3/8" (9.5mm) to either side of the sequin row at a couple of places and draw a straight line with the pencil on either side. Make sure that the lines are parallel to the sequin row and the correct distance apart. Using the picture guide from the planning and layout step, determine where the next row starts and ends and mark the center points of the sequins along the lines. Be careful to make sure that the points are even with the existing sequins and evenly spaced 3/8" (9.5mm) apart.
Sew these two lines of sequins in exactly the same manner as described for the first row.
Continue with each pair of outside rows until the picture is complete. Working from the outside-in with matching rows helps ensure that the image is balanced and even.
Step 5: A Couple of Missiles
Locate a couple of places on the dress for missiles to be sewn. The missiles really complete the image by adding action to the scene.
In the same manner as with the spaceship, sew each missile. Each one will require 6 red sequins and 5 white sequins. Because the missiles are only 3 pixels (rows) wide, I chose to mark all of the sequin locations in advance of the sewing.
(Optional) If your dress does not already have something resembling a star-field already on it, then sew assorted single sequins to various places on the dress for this purpose.
Step 6: Put It on and Go Out on the Town!
Once the dress is complete, take it for a spin and a night out on the town!