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Different Kinds of Glass Hotfix Rhinestones for Your Clothes and Other Projects

Updated on November 15, 2013

Crafters, shirt sellers, fashion designers, and others are using different kinds of glass hotfix rhinestones!

If you don't know what they are, they are rhinestones with coatings on the backs of them. The material of what coats the backs of them in question is an acrylic glue that bonds to porous surfaces, like paper and fabric. When heat is applied, the coating melts and the stones bond to the fabric.

Hotfix rhinestones save time in decorating whatever people like to decorate with. They can doll up new jeans with gem-studded flowers. They can make many a dance costume sparkle.

So, let me show you the different kinds of stones. There are many brands to choose from depending on your personal taste as well as your budget.

Rhinestones! Rhinestones! Rhinestones! There are many kinds of hotfix ones to choose from depending on taste and budget!
Rhinestones! Rhinestones! Rhinestones! There are many kinds of hotfix ones to choose from depending on taste and budget!

Chinese Molded

The cheapest hotfix rhinestones you can find are the ones made in China.

Have you seen the bling iron-on appliques in the notions departments of your local craft store or in the crafts section of your local big box store? Most of them typically contain the said stones if rhinestones are included.

They are molded glass stones. The makers pour molten glass into the molds and once set, add the adhesives to the backs of the molded stones. They typically have 8 facets and contain lead Some of them have defects in them, like spotty glue on the back and a chipped side. You have to wash your garments gingerly because the adhesive is among the weakest. Some of the stones may fall off during washing.

If you are embellishing with loose Chinese rhinestones, look for A grade stones. I suggest gluing them instead of heat-setting them because again the quality of the adhesive is among the iffiest.

I got this bag of Chinese hotfix rhinestones in vitrail when I purchased 10 gross of SS10 cobalt Korean ones from Glam Rhinestone. The vitrail ones (Glam Rhinestones call them rainbow ones) were free samples!
I got this bag of Chinese hotfix rhinestones in vitrail when I purchased 10 gross of SS10 cobalt Korean ones from Glam Rhinestone. The vitrail ones (Glam Rhinestones call them rainbow ones) were free samples!

Korean Molded (Low Lead Ones Included)

Like their Chinese counterparts, Korean molded stones have 8 facets and lead in the glass. They are rigorously inspected before being sold to the apparel designing industry, making them one of the better stones for good prices. Their glue backings are generally stronger than Chinese stones.

Don't overlook the low lead ones. Though not as brilliant as the conventionally leaded ones, they provide good bling for children's clothing. Look for Grade A stones and always check for defects. There are generally less defects in Korean stones than in Chinese ones.

These are Korean molded stones I used to decorate my fanny pack. The one on the left are the aforementioned cobalt ones I bought from Glam Rhinestones.
These are Korean molded stones I used to decorate my fanny pack. The one on the left are the aforementioned cobalt ones I bought from Glam Rhinestones.

DMC

Known as Diamante Machine Cut, DMC stones are the best stones for budget-wise bling enthusiasts. Those stones usually contain lead. Despite me not recommending embellishing clothes for children under 12, they really stand out above many stones for the money-saving designer. They usually have 10-12 facets (some of them even have up to 16), giving them more clarity and brilliance than even some high-quality Korean molded ones.

Most retailers of loose stones in the category agree that they are affordable alternatives to the pricier stones (explained later). They sell for the fraction of the price of the higher quality stones. If you are looking for little pieces of bling that fits your wallet yet give off the utmost sparkle, DMC stones are the best choice for the most part.

DMC stones are usually made in Korea, though there are Chinese ones too. Look for the former, as they have superior glue, facets, clarity, consistency, and brilliance.

Even Czech Republic-based Preciosa makes DMC stones too! The brand of them is called MC Chaton Rose VIVA12. Though the priciest of the type, they have a glue that melts at a lower point, saving time and energy. The glue is typically stronger than some other stones.

And Finally...

The best hotfix rhinestones are made by Swarovski. Fashion designers, dance studio owners, and textile crafters (just to name a few) swoon over those stones. They typically have 12-14 facets, and they are precisely cut so they can give off the utmost sparkle. They have high lead content, which makes them good for clothing and accessories for people 12 and over.

For kids 3 and older, look for Swarovski Advanced Crystal stones, which have very minimal lead content yet shines as brightly as the conventional ones. Though they are the most expensive of the types of hotfix stones, you can purchase those stones with coupons or wait for clearances. Some sites allow you to purchase by the piece for greater control of spending - just like penny candy!

Here's a project featuring hotfix stones. This is my fish extender for my Disney Cruises, and I used Korean and Swarovski stones for contrasts of fire and brilliance. This project turned out GREAT!
Here's a project featuring hotfix stones. This is my fish extender for my Disney Cruises, and I used Korean and Swarovski stones for contrasts of fire and brilliance. This project turned out GREAT!

Helpful Hints

  • If you can and if it's right for you (it may not work for everyone), mix different kinds of stones. Doing so might stretch your dollar as far as you want.
  • Always prewash your garments and fabric in mild detergent and cool water only before attaching hotfix stones.
  • For thin fabrics, it's helpful to place a piece of cardboard lined with waxed paper to keep the adhesive from seeping to the other part of the garment.
  • Use a cotton setting with no steam when ironing stones on.
  • Always test the fabric before applying stones.

What kinds of stones do you use for your garments?

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