There is nothing better than acquiring a show shirt and customizing it how you want! If you are not an artistic, crafty person then this very simple process is the solution for you. It will save you loads of cash and will give you a sense of completion when you can say you blinged your outfit yourself.
This process is designed for the beginner in mind, but for a more advanced crafter, you can expand on these steps any way you see fit.
I will discuss two applications of rhinestones, first how best to apply loose stones and secondly, how to make and apply rhinestones transfers.
First, Applying loose rhinestones to your garments
- loose stones
- tweezers or pliers
- heat wand
To ensure you get the absolute best quality bling you can find, you want to purchase Swarovski crystal rhinestones.
To keep it simple, only purchase a neutral color, and stick with one size. The color you will want to get is casually known as "AB" crystals. This stands for Aurora Borealis. It is a clear crystal with an iridescent look that picks up the colors that surround it. The size you will want to get is SS20 which is 5 millimeters. Over the years I have found that this size and color used consistently will give you the best bang for the buck and really shows well from across the arena with great sparkle and character. For more details, you will want "hotfix" (glue on back) and "flatback" (no prongs or protrusions). I have found that 50 to 100 of these rhinestones dress up a shirt quite nicely.
Here's a cheat sheet of the rhinestones you want:
Swarovski crystals, AB, SS20, Hotfix, Flatback (quite a mouthful I know, but it is very critical that you make sure this is exactly what you get)
The applicator tool:
Next you will need to buy a tool that will "apply" your rhinestones. Do NOT try to use a hand iron. You will want either a small heat press, or a single stone applicator. The "wand" single stone applicator is best for your purposes, though it is far more time consuming. They run $10 to $20. Names they are called are things like: "bejeweler" or "bedazzler". Make sure it is for "hotfix" rhinestones and you are good to go.
The applicator comes with 7 tips. 6 are sized "cupped" tips that hold your stone. the 7th is a generic flat tip. After many hours of frustration, I have given up on the "cupped" tip and now just use the flat tip exclusively. With the flat time your crystals will not get stuck in "the" cup, or fall out of it when you don't want it too. Trust me on this one...though you are welcome to try both.
How to do the job:
I use a curved plier to move the crystals into place, then one by one I set the hot want flat tip on the crystal and wait about 30 seconds, yes 30 seconds PER stone.
If you have access to a heat press, the general steps are as follows:
- apply your stones,
- cover with teflon
- press at 350 degrees for 10 secs.
- If you have your stones under transfer paper (more on that later) you let them cool, remove the transfer and repress for 10 more secs.
So, between the two methods you can see that the heat press is a huge time savings, but at the loss of precision since wherever that stone is, that is where it will end up. I would also be concerned about the heat on a show garment if it is constructed of a fragile or heat sensitive material.
Follow up notes:
Another benefit of hotfix stones is that you can remove and reuse your stones. Use a butter knife to carefully pry them off. Likely your garment will not be reusable, but if it is out of fashion or the wrong size, it might be the best way to go.
Second, on to using Transer Paper for adding rhinestone designs
If you have certain patterns you like, such as stars, horse shoes etc. you can look online to purchase them pre-designed on specially sticky back plastic, called transfer paper. I like this method myself. This will give you some structure and you can still add random crystals around these basic shapes. My store often has these basic shapes available for purchase in addition to the basic starter loose crystals mentioned above.
You can purchase rhinestones in a wide range of colors and a full range of sizes, typical sizes are as follows:
(measurements are approximate)
I like ss10 for detailed art, like my pleasure horse, reining horse or smaller shapes like hearts, horseshoes and stars.
I like sss16 and ss20 for my hat sized horseshoe design, cowboy boot (with ss10 spur and strap).
If you get into this, buy some colors and sizes and get transfer paper to make up a design and "store" it for later use. There is no need to have to actually embellish the item right then. I love the idea that I can sit in the evening and design something cool, slap the transfer paper on it and wait until I have the perfect garment to apply it to. Be aware that the crystals are only lightly stuck to the transfer paper and are still easily disturbed as I have learned. once a design is set on the paper, store them away in a jewelry box or other safe place that they can lay flat, I have taken a recipe box and do store my designs vertically, but understand that gravity may work against you.
How to use my pre-made designsIn order to go green, I am adding the directions to correctly use the premade designs I sell on ebay. Shipped with your applique, is a packing slip with a URL to this tutorial. I hope you find this useful as I work on ways to minimize my business footprint on the world.
As my listings state, I ship the design as well as a paper copy for reference in the event any stones shift during shipping. The masking tape and backing are reusable. If you use a wand applicator, pull off the white backing and apply your sticky clear design to the garment. press the wand's heated tip over a stone and wait for 30 seconds, move to the next stone, once you finish a round, carefully lift one corner and check that a stone or two are applied, do not pull off the plastic until you are sure all stones are seated, or adhered, and after pulling off the clear tape (don't throw it away) pick at your stones ensuring a good seal of the glue. any that are not fully glued you can heat up again, one at a time. Save the masking and copy for later use. I always save my masking bits and reuse for any new designs I need to make. I hope you found this tutorial helpful!
CPSC Law and Stuffnthingzstore's Use Of Swarovski CrystalsSwarovski crystals, are leaded crystals. As such, they exceed the maximum tolerance for children, as defined by the Act. These crystals are not toys -- they are not intended for children. Please keep this in mind as you consider purchasing crystals to bling your adult show clothing items! Enjoy:)
I hope this guide is helpful to you, please rate it. Also visit my store for some great horse show specific casual blinged apparel, crystals, supplies and transfers.