|The Met: toque (hat), 1915|
I've heard this question come up a couple of times, in regard to using sequins on our Titanic gowns. Sequins are not only period accurate for 1912, but they have a long history well back into ancient times.
It turns out sequins have been used in cultures the world over, from Ancient Egypt, India, the Far East, and even Peru. Arab cultures made extensive use of sequins in their costume, and the word "sequin" even comes from the Arabic word "sikka," which means "coin."
Sequins these days are made of plastic, often punched with a faceted design. In the past, they were punched from metal, and were most commonly smooth, but could have designs as well, to catch the light. Spangles could also be made from mother-of-pearl and precious stones.
We start to see sequins show up on extant garments in Europe in the 16th century, though they were used before this date. One of the most striking examples is the early 17th century "Plimoth Jacket," the re-creation of which has over 10,000 metal spangles applied by hand.
|V&A: Jacket, 1610-15|
|The replica "Plimoth Jacket," via|
|V&A: Ladies' jacket, 1630, drawn thread work on linen, with silver spangles|
|V&A: Court Suit, 1765-70|
|V&A: Suit, 1790s, uses both metal spangles in varying sizes, an what appear to be shell/mother of pearl|
|V&A: Stomacher, 1740-50, made of silver thread bobbin lace, and spangles.|
|V&A: Gown, 1810, with bullion embroidery and gold spangles.|
|V&A: Bodice, 1895. Everything but the kitchen sink.|
|The Met: Callot Soeurs evening gown, 1910-14, using metal flat spangles as well as punched.|
|The Met: Callot Soeurs evening gown, 1913. Can you just imagine what this would look like when worn?|
|The Met: Evening dress, 1926|
Lucky us, though, we can still buy metal sequins, like these from Tinsel Trading. Or if you're really clever, make your own, maybe with a version of Leonardo DaVinci's sequin-punching machine?
|Leonardo DaVinci, Codex Atlanticus, a design for a sequin-making machine. No kidding!|