Rhinestones 101- Brush Up On Your Basics: Attachment Method

101 Attach Glue

Rhinestones 101- Brush Up On Your Basics: Attachment Method

The world of rhinestones can be overwhelming.  Anything can be, really, when you have to make decisions and are unequipped with the information needed to make one.  Well, read on, dear reader.  Although you may find that there are many combinations in stoning that will work for you, Rhinestones Unlimited will help you find a successful jumping off point.

There are a handful of categories to help you narrow down the sparkly stuff.  I’ll name them below, then break them up into chapters, so you don’t have to look at too many words in one article.  Daunting.

Chapter One: Attachment Method
Chapter Two: Quality
Chapter Three: Color
Chapter Four: Size
Chapter Five: Quantity

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CHAPTER ONE: Attachment Method

The method of attachment is often a matter of personal preference.  In general, there are four basic ways to attach stones to your project: Adhesives, Hot Fix, Metal Settings and Sew On.



Gluing rhinestones onto a project is often people’s first chosen method, because it requires little experience or commitment.  All you need is the stones and a tube of glue; no tools or special equipment needed- although I must interject that we have some inexpensive and handy tools to make the job easier- and it can work on a variety of projects, from clothing and accessories to fine art and furniture.  When choosing to glue, you have already eliminated a third of the stone options: flat back stones (non-Hot Fix) will be your golden item for the project, unless you purposely desire a 3-dimentional gluing platform.  Your choice of glue will depend on the materials you are using.  There are many glues floating around in existence, and many of them will work for stoning.  We have a few favorites, meant specifically to adhere to jewels, to fabric, to porous/non-porous/finicky surfaces, or any combination of the above (watch for our detailed article on glues).  We DO NOT recommend superglue (too brittle) or hot glue.

See our adhesive offerings here: http://www.rhinestonesu.com/wholesale-glues-and-adhesives-for-rhinestones.aspx

Don’t forget the tools!: http://www.rhinestonesu.com/rhinestone-application-aids.aspx

Hot Fix


Along the same lines as attaching with adhesives, Hot Fix stones are essentially the iron-ons of the bedazzling universe.  Just with a fancier name.  Hot Fix rhinestones have just the right amount of glue already on the back of the stone, but it is in solid form and needs to melt with just the right amount of heat in order for it to adhere to the surface of your project.  First and foremost a fabric glue, word on the street is that Hot Fix glue will give you the strongest bond to your garment- when correctly applied.  People have many tricks to melt the glue, but the widely accepted method for attaching involves an efficient, hand-held heated wand for small-volume manufacturing and an industrial press machine for large-volume manufacturing.  Although an iron can be used -if you have arranged the rhinestones upside down on transfer paper- the variable heat settings can make or break the effectiveness of the glue, so do a few tests, or just choose a more tried-and-true method. Also, be sure that your material can handle the heat- some fabrics, such as nylon, can burn easily.  The biggest advantage of working with Hot Fix stones is that it is tidier and can be faster than applying glue by hand- steps are eliminated in the one-stop process.  Because the experts have already put their adhesive on for you, however, these crystals will cost more than non-Hot Fix flat backs.

See our hot fix offerings here: http://www.rhinestonesu.com/wholesale-hotfix-rhinestones-transfers-metals.aspx

Metal Settings

Top: Rim Settings; Bottom: Tiffany Settings

You could recognize set crystals even if you haven’t heard the term before.  Stones applied with a metal setting are often seen on prêt-a-porter clothing, handbags, shoes and leatherwork, and have either a metal rim around the outside of the stone, or are held in place with metal teeth (or legs, or fingers…or are group hugged…) that wrap around to the face of the stone.  As you can imagine, stones encased in metal settings have a very secure hold, and are thus prized for pieces that get a lot of wear.  Because leather is one of the aforementioned finicky surfaces for adhesives, metal settings are a good choice for this material. Although it is possible to apply these settings without tools, it is exponentially faster and easier to use a pressing tool.  These often resemble an industrial stapler, a rabbit punch or a plunge-style desktop press.

See our metal set offerings here: http://www.rhinestonesu.com/metal-setting-tools-for-rhinestones.aspx

Expanding on this idea, Swarovski has created a line of metal-infused stones, in which crystal and setting are one piece.


Thankfully, even these embellishments have a tool (think giant hand-held hole punch) to do the handiwork for you: cutting through the material, inserting the embellishment, and securing it with a backing or bending the legs (for that group hug) into place.  Something to note on the metal setting and stud family- not all tools are interchangeable between products.  Also, depending on your needs, extra tool accessories (such as a die for a larger-than-average stone) may be sold separately.

Introduce yourself to the magic of Swarovski’s Crystal Applicator products in this article: http://rhinestonesu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/introducing-rivets-and-rose-pins-a-preface/

Sew On


As the name implies, Sew On stones, beads and pendants are attached with a needle, thread, a little elbow grease, and a lot of patience.  The payoff for your efforts, though, ladies and gentleman, the tradeoff for your time spent with the sewing method is the beautiful shapes, cuts and sizes of the family of Sew On rhinestones- the range is extended for Sew Ons. Most of these crystals have two holes bored through them near the edge of the shape, allowing a tidy stitch directly through the stone itself for a very secure attachment. Sew On stones are widely used within the bridal and couture houses, and a high number of these rhinestones are sold to our Western wear customers.

See our Sew On offerings here: http://www.rhinestonesu.com/wholesale-sew-on-swarovski-rhinestones.aspx

If you have any questions on the attachment methods for your project, give us a call.  We’ve nearly heard it all, and what we haven’t, we’re anxious to know.  Carol, in particular, is a wonderful resource if you’re calling our sales office, or send Mama Rhinestone a question if you’re on RhinestonesU.com.

-xo- Jemm

Rhinestones Unlimited blog author Jemm Stone is a multifaceted girl navigating our sparkly world with on-point insights.  Visit Blog.RhinestonesU.com to follow her thoughts as she highlights design trends, turns the spotlight on industry influencers and breaks down how-to tips like light through a crystal prism.

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