How to Use Glass Hotfix Rhinestones With or Without Heat
Glass hotfix rhinestones add bling to home décor, clothing, and other things people use or show off.
They are the small things that make a tutu sparkle at the ballet (alongside the tiara or diadem the lead dancer wears). They add glitz and high-end glamor to an evening dress or a gown for prom or homecoming. They even turn everyday outfits into something special.
If you haven't heard of hotfix rhinestones, picture this. Have you been to the notions section of a store and seen a package of iron-on crystals? Those in the pack are the types mentioned here. They are so named because they each have a heat-activated adhesive on the back. When a heat source is applied to the tops of them, the adhesive melts (it turns glossy) and absorbs into the surface.
Some Types of Hotfix Rhinestones
Hotfix rhinestones are made of glass, which can withstand heat pretty well than acrylic ones. The latter group can only be glued or sewn on to clothing.
But not all stones are created equal.
Myriad high-end designers use Swarovski Austrian crystal ones, which provides the dazzle their fashions need. While some normal crafters use them, most others are looking for the same dazzle at a more convenient price.
Second to cost but just as beautiful as them are the Czech ones, Preciosa included. They are a little bit less brilliant that the Swarovski types, but they still give items that "expensive" look.
Chinese-made stones offer bling for a low price and they are sold at most discount stores, craft or otherwise. But some users and sewing notion experts discover that they're better off hand gluing them without a heat source because the glue can sometimes be inferior. Also, there may be flaws in the cut of the stones.
You can use various brands of hotfix stones! When using stones of various lead contents, fire, and facets, you can create a more interesting look.
The best hotfix rhinestones that comfortably save you money and still give you that huge bling are the Korean high quality ones. They have some of the best quality inspections, giving you consistent dazzle for a convenient price. A few crystals have a few flaws, mostly unlike even the high caliber ones from China. but the glue is generally better.
DMC (diamante machine cut) rhinestones are other cost-saving types for great quality. Most high-quality ones are essentially updated Korean rhinestones. Though a bit more dear than the standard Korean ones, they are a bit more quality controlled, more precisely cut, and some are even more faceted.
China does make some DMC's, but it's better to hand-glue them since the glue may or may not be as strong.
Low-lead jewels are increasingly available for use if you are concerned about lead or if you are decorating children's clothing.They may be more or less brilliant than top-shelf ones, but they are some of the safest. When you use them, you probably wouldn't go back to gluing acrylic gems (the safest rhinestones due to no lead content) by hand.
- Different Kinds of Glass Hotfix Rhinestones for Your Clothes and Other Projects
In this Hub, I further explain the different types of stones based on material, manufacturing method, and price.
Hotfix rhinestones can be applied by means of a heat source, on many porous materials and fabrics. You can apply them by a (mainly holeless) household iron or press to some fabrics that can withstand heat well.
For delicates, an applicator with the smallest flat tip works well, providing that you are careful with it and not touch the fabric. (It's always a good idea to test it on a scrap piece of fabric before embarking on the projects to determine which heating method to use.)
Loose Stones and Iron
There are many ways to heat-set rhinestones by iron. Instructions can vary, but here's one of them.
First, place your rhinestones at their desired places. (For rather thin fabrics, place a piece of paper underneath or inside if it's sewn into a top.) You may want to iron-on a transfer of your desired pattern to see where they should be. Carefully cover the surface with a piece of thin cloth.
Then place your iron preheated at a low setting (I recommend holeless because you can apply even pressure on the rhinestones, thus heating them evenly. The ones rarely have a steam feature, which is a no-no when doing this.) on top of the stones and hold for several seconds. It may take 15-30 seconds for the adhesive to melt, depending on stone size. If it's large, do it section by section. (Make sure you keep the iron steady to ensure that the stones are still in place.)
After heating, wait until it's cool to the touch, then feel each stone. If it's loose, carefully reposition it, cover it, and iron again for several seconds until secure.
Using Premade Transfers and Iron
Though ironing loose stones gives you a sense of creativity, ready-made iron-on transfers almost instantly decorate your clothing or home décor without the hassle of repositioning them. They come in many designs. You can get them at discount and craft stores, but you can order custom-made ones (designs in school teams and all) online.
Carefully peel the transfer off its backing (some brands have tape that can be reused). Then place it on a desired area of your surface, with the paper between it if it's a thin material top or pants.
Then place the preheated iron on top of the design for 15-30 seconds, working in sections by lifting and placing to move the iron only, if needed. (Some manufacturers instruct you to turn the shirt or other material inside out and place the iron on it to secure the design.) This can also be done using a heat press, if you have the money or if you own an apparel store.
Using an Applicator
Though irons and presses are the most common heat sources for hotfix rhinestones, heat setting tools allow you to better control where you put them. They can either be cordless (great for on-the-go or for power outages) or corded.
If it has a tip for a particular stone size, screw it on. Let the tool heat up by turning it on and leaving it on if corded or by holding the on button if cordless. This can take anywhere between 3-5 minutes depending on brand.
The application methods vary by tool. Some have grooves that enable you to pick up the stone invert it to see if the glue melts, and place it on a desired area of a shirt. Others have a flat tip in which you place it directly on the stone and wait for 15-30 seconds until it has a little give to it. (It's useful for delicates, albeit safer to just hand-glue the stones.)
If you want to change tips, turn the tool off and either let that cool or use a potholder to take off the tip and place it on a heatproof surface.
Using Other Sources
Although hotfix stones have glue already on the backs, gluing them on manually is an alternative option for people who want to apply them on surfaces that tend to be ruined when heated (especially on delicates) or on non-porous surfaces. The latter group includes bottles, plastic frames, and many cell phone covers. It can also be used with two-part epoxy clay in place of acrylic ones because they can withstand heat well.
A Cheap Choice for Those who Want More than Acrylic Crystals to Dazzle Anything
Hotfix rhinestones are some of the best stones to use to liven up items. They can turn a dowdy secondhand store ensemble into something ready to be sold at the mall without the hefty price. Besides being ironed to attach to porous surfaces, it can also be glued by hand to those that aren't. So why not give those dazzling pieces a whirl and liven up the things you have or the projects you make?
Hotfix Rhinestone Sites
- Rhinestone Couture
This site offers DMC stones as well as the Korean ones.
- Dreamtime Creations
It has one of the largest array of hotfix rhinestones at VALUE prices! It carries Korean stones, Crystallina CraftSafe stones, Preciosa stones, and of course, Swarovski stones!
- Glamaris Rhinestone
Custom rhinestone apparel, hair bling and bling car decals.
- Swarovski crystals wholesale, Rhinestones, Swarovski rhinestones wholesale - Crystals 2 Love
Crystals 2 Love is your rhinestones retailer... providing high quality Swarovski crystals, Swarovski rhinestones and Swarovski beads for all of your needs...
- Nova Rhinestone Depot
Rhinestones and Crystals at low Wholesale price. Custom Heat Transfer Order, Heat Transfer Design Gallery, Various Hot fix and Flat back stone collections.
It has tips for a specific crystal or stud, making it easier.
Other Rhinestone Hubs
- How to Custom-Color Rhinestones With Permanent Markers or Permanent Inks
Custom colored gems can be expensive as heck. Here are a few methods to color rhinestones from the discount store with simple items.
- Crystal Craft: Getting Started
This Hubber talks about crafting with Swarovski crystals. But this can be applied to most others that cost fractions of their prices.
- How to Iron and Glue on Rhinestones to Your T-Shirts and More
Here's a great Hub on how to apply rhinestones to surfaces.