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How To Rhinestone A Costume: Hotfix Method

Posted by Trista on Sep 2, 2016

How to Rhinestone Dance Costume Before and After

The Octavia Half Skirt before and after the perfect finishing touch - rhinestones!

Rhinestones: an essential ingredient for most dance costumes and skating dresses! They're a great way to add a little crowd-pleasing sparkle, create a little extra presence on the stage, and help your performers feel great!  But on the flip side, it can be costly to completely bling out your costume.  The best way to save a few dollars when it comes to rhinestoning?  Do it yourself!  Check out this step-by-step instructional video below, and you'll be a blinging machine in no time!  

This tutorial looks at  how to rhinestone using Hotfix stones, which have the glue pre-applied to the back.  For flat back stones which requires application of glue separately, check out part two of this series: How to Rhinestone a Costume - Flat Back Method!  

How to Rhinestone a Dance Costume or Skate Dress: Hotfix Method


What You'll Need:

  • Hotfix Rhinestones
  • Pancake Griddle
  • Quilting Pins
  • Washable Fabric Marker or Chalk Pencil
  • Pressing Tool - A Nail Setter or Sharpie Pen
  • Ruler or Tape Measure
  • Cardboard or other flat surface

Rhinestoning Instructions:

Step 1: Stretch Your Costume Flat 

The first step is to prep your costume!  Stretch your garment flat over a piece of cardboard or other hard surface.  In this video we used a plastic lunch tray.  Placing a hard surface underneath the section you will be stoning will ensure that no glue transfers to the other side of your garment, and that you can press the stones firmly.

Step 2: Layout Your Rhinestone Design

The most phenomenal rhinestone designs start by laying out a pattern on your costume BEFORE gluing.  This no-brainer step is the best way to see what will look best on your costume, before permanently committing to a design!  

For this tutorial, we are using hotfix rhinestones, which have the glue pre-applied to the back.  You can find these from rhinestone brands like Swarovski or Preciosia.  Stones without the glue applied to the back are called flat back (we'll cover that tutorial next week!)

Step 3: Mark the Rhinestone Placement

Mark your garment where you want the rhinestones to be placed.  Use a washable fabric marker for light color fabrics, or a chalk pencil for darker colored fabrics.  These tools can be found at your local craft or fabric store, like Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics.  

Avoid permanent pens or markers!  Even though you will be covering your markings with rhinestones, you never know when an accident might occur!  A ruler or tape measure is also useful for maintaining consistent spacing. 

Step 4:  Heat the Griddle to 350 Degrees

Turn on the pancake griddle to 350 degrees and let let it warm up for about 5 minutes.  Any electric griddle with a completely flat surface and adjustable temperature setting is perfect for the job!

Step 5:  Heat the Rhinestones

Add about 10 stones to the griddle, glue side up.  Heat the stones until the glue has melted, around 3 minutes.  You know they are ready when the glue has liquified.  

Heating the stones the proper amount is key!  If the stones aren't heated enough, they will fall off your garment or can be pulled off easily.  If the stones are heated too long, the glue will burn and the stones will fall off later!  How do you know if stone has been heated too long? The glue will start to turn yellow, indicating it has burned.  

Avoid putting too many stones on the griddle to prevent overheating.  10-15 at a time is a great place to start!  

How to Rhinestone Skating Dress Before and After

The Brielle synchronized skating dress, before and after rhinestoning!

Step 6:  Place Stones and Press into Place

Pick up the rhinestone using a pin.  We love using quilting pins, which have a round plastic head and make them easier to handle. Place the stone glue side down on your garment, on top of your placement marking.  

Press firmly into place for 3 seconds using a firm tool.  We like the size of a nail setter (shown in the video and can be found at your local hardware store), but the end of a Sharpie also works great!  Be sure to press hard – this will ensure your stones stay on your garment!  If pressed too lightly or not at all, the rhinestones are likely to come off easily during performances. 

Step 7:  Check It! 

After you have applied a few stones and given them a few minutes to set and cool, check the stone to see how well they are adhering. If the stones are coming off easily, it could be from a couple different reasons:

  1. The stones are too cold, and the glue hasn’t melted enough.  Solution: let your stone heat until the glue has liquified.
  2. The stones have not been pressed to the garment well enough.  Solution: try pressing harder.
  3. The stones have been sitting on the griddle too long, and the glue has burned.  Solution: let fewer stones sit on the griddle for a shorter period of time, so you can use them before they overheat.  

Step 8:  Keep Going!  Use One Sample As A Guide

After you've finished one costume, remove any chalk or marker placement marks with a damp rag.  Take a peek at your costume from a distance to get the full effect, and make any adjustments as needed!  

Use your first rhinestoned garment as a guide for the rest of your team's costumes.  This will help keeps things consistent!  Another trick to keep things uniform? Count out all the stones before you start each dance costume or skate dress, so that you are using the right amount.  There's nothing worse than using more stones that expected and going over budget!  

 How to Rhinestone  - Dance Costume Before and After

The Jupela was a simple dance biketard, completely transformed with the addition of rhinestones.  

Now that one it done, it's time to grab your teammates, your favorite DVD box set, and make a night of it! Rhinestoning a skate dress or dance costume is a labor intensive task, but many hands make light work!  Questions?  Let us know!

Leary of using hotfix stones and griddle?  Check out part two of this series: How to Rhinestone a Costume - Flat Back Method!  


Custom Costume Budget Tips Guide - Free Download

Topics: Costume Design Resources, Budget Tips, Rhinestones & Sparkle

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