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Rhinestone Craft Guide For Beginners
How to make rhinestones your new hobby
This article about rhinestones is intended as a quick beginner's guide to decorating your clothes with these shiny little crystal beads.
This is a very good hobby because it is cheap and easy to get started, and once you've got the hang of it, you can get more and more adventurous with your designs.
You'll discover the basic tools, materials and methods needed for creating your first rhinestone design on a t-shirt.
What are rhinestones?
Rhinestones are little diamond-esque stones that are commonly used to decorate costumes and items to add some more sparkle (think figure skater's outfits). Although called 'stones' they can actually either made of rock crystal, glass or acrylic.
The most famous rhinestone manufactures are based in Austria or the Czech Republic. The most famous of all producers is called Swarovski. To find more information on the background to rhinestones, you can check out the page out them on Wikipedia.
Rhinestones may also be called paste, crystal beads, glass beads, flat back crystals or any similar name.
What tools and materials will you need?
If you plan to start decorating your clothes with rhinestones, you'll need a few simple tools and materials to begin. But don't worry, they're very cheap and simple to get hold of.
Some Rhinestones - Of course, these are the most important things you'll need. You will be able to buy them either in your local craft shop or online. You can buy them in small packets of 15 to 20 for a few pounds, so if you try a simple design first, you won't need to spend too much.
Hot Fix Stickers or glue applicator - Your rhinestones will be attached to your clothing by using glue applied to their flat backs. Depending on what type of material you attach your rhinestones too will depend on whether you need stickers or a glue applicator (this will be explained further down). The example project given below will use the hot fix sticker method.
Paper - to draw your template onto.
A clear glass or plastic sheet - to view your template through while creating your design on your hot fix sticker.
Scotch tape - to secure your template while you're working on it.
Tweezers - to put your rhinestones in place.
And iron and ironing board - as you will use this to provide the heat that bonds the rhinestone to the fabric.
Some heat proof paper - to place over your material as your iron on your design.
Something to decorate - the last most important thing you need is something to decorate. Rhinestones can be added to many different materials, but in this guide, we'll concentrate on one of the easiest; a cotton t-shirt.
Once you've assembled all your tools, you're ready to start.
Creating your first design
1. Picking your design
The first thing you need to do is decide what design you want to create. If you already have an idea in your head, go for it. If not, you can find plenty of inspiration in craft magazines or by doing a quick search online. If this is your first design it's probably best to start of with something small and easy.
2. Creating your template
Once you've decided on your design, you will need to create a template. The easiest way to do this is to simply draw it out on paper. You may also find that some magazines or website will provide a template you can cut or print out.
3. Preparing your template
You now need to prepare your template so you can easily apply your rhinestones to your hot fix sticker. To do this you should take your design you've just drawn out and tape it to the underside of your clear plastic, so you can see your design through the other side. Then, cut a section of hot fix sticker big enough to cover your design, peel off the backing and attach it to the other side of the clear plastic, with the sticky side up.
4. Apply your rhinestones
Now you're template is ready it's time to start applying your rhinestones. Using the tweezers start attaching them to the sticky side of the hot fix sticker.
5. Securing your design
When you've completed applying your rhinestones to your hot fix sticker, remove it from the rest of your template and place it on your t-shirt (or whatever you decided to decorate). Then put the heat proof paper over the top and simply iron evenly for about two to three minutes.
6. Wear your creation with pride
Once you've finished ironing and it cooled down, you creation should be ready to wear with pride. If your rhinestones are not fully secured, simply iron again for a minute or two more.
Using hot fix stickers, glue applicators and other methods
The example above uses the hot fix sticker method of applying rhinestones, but you can use other methods too, depending on what project you're working on.
Because hot fix stickers require you to iron your design, they work best when you're applying rhinestones to fabrics that can be safely ironed like natural fibres.
If you're applying them to something that cannot safely be ironed, such as something, such as man-made materials (like nylon), then it's safer to use apply glue directly to each individual rhinestone and secure them one by one. You can also buy rhinestones that have the glue pre-applied.
This second method is also better for items that cannot be ironed at all, such as mobile phones or sunglasses.
What else can you decorate
Once you realise how easy applying rhinestones is, you can start to apply them to far more adventurous items in far more adventurous designs. Here are some popular other items that get customised with rhinestones...
And so on. You're really only limited by your imagination once you get going. So, follow our simple guide above and then see where it leads you...