Paillettes, or little round discs of real silver or gold, have been ornamenting clothing and fabric for centuries. You see them on costumes and gowns in museums, on haute couture garments today, and probably in the needlework projects of your stitcher friends. They are often used in silk-and-metal needlepoint projects and counted thread designs. Just Cross Stitch magazine is currently featuring them in their 30th Anniversary sampler project. As a real-metal decoration, paillettes add a level of elegance to a design, plus unique texture, a little shimmer to catch the light, and "something different" to capture attention. As needleworkers and creative people, we love details, and paillettes are about as uniquely-detailed as you can get.
A paillette is a French word that is pronounced "pie yet." Kreinik sells these real-metal spangles in gold and silver, in several sizes. Here is a page with photos and details, plus a ruler-comparison to show sizes: http://www.kreinik.com/shops/
Paillettes are surface embroidery embellishments, sewn onto a design using just about any thread, but the most common is silk thread. Attach one by bringing your needle up through the fabric next to the paillette (note: select a needle that will pass easily through the hole), then down through the center hole. Usually three stitches in a "Y" formation are enough to keep the paillette in place. You can top off a paillette with a bead for added dimension, or make a decorative stitch over the spangle. Apply them in clusters or singly as needed to achieve a desired effect in a design. They make beautiful embellishments for borders and backgrounds. You can even use them to replicate "realistic" texture such as fish scales.
Kreinik's paillettes are ecclesiastical grade, which means the real metals have been processed with an additional tarnish-proof coating which extends the length of time it will remain bright. If used on a garment, go to a dry cleaner with experience in treating heirloom clothing or costumes.
Take a look at the photos here for inspiration on where you can use paillettes in your next project. Whether you are making a wedding dress, embellishing costumes for your local theatre group, creating jewelry, or doing needlepoint, cross stitch, counted thread, stumpwork, surface embroidery, or Brazilian embroidery, you can use these real-metal decorations just as our needlework-ancestors did: to add the most elegant spangle you've ever seen.