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How to Attach Flat Back Rhinestones (Crystals)

This page gives an overview of the four ways that flat back rhinestones, or crystals, are applied.

Adhesives (Gluing) Method

Many types of glue are acceptable for attaching rhinestones or crystals, except (1) the isocyanate glues (e.g., instant adhesives), (2) any glue containing acetone, and (3) hot glue. There are several brands of glue that are specifically formulated for bonding rhinestones or crystals to fabric. Our product line of recommended adhesives & glue product line includes Beacon Gem-Tac, E-6000, Devcon epoxies, and Aleene's.

We personally prefer Beacon Gem-Tac because it is the least expensive, you only need a small amount, and it dries completely clear, which means no more globs of glue around the rhinestones—just pure shimmer and shine. It's easy to attach rhinestones with adhesives. Please remember to do a test on a spare piece of fabric or in an inconspicuous spot, use glue that dries transparent, make sure to cover all edges of the stones to minimize them from peeling off, follow the manufacturer's instructions, always wash with great care and on a low temperature.

Additional resources:
Shop for Recommended Adhesives & Glues for Rhinestones (Crystals)
Watch a video where Kellie DeFries, aka "The Crystal Ninja" demonstrates her techniques for gluing flat back Swarovski Elements.
PDF File Gluing- From the Swarovski Elements Application Guide (Used by permission)
PDF File Gluing with a Syringe - Tips from Kristen, a Rhinestones Unlimited customer

Metal Settings Method

There are two types of metal settings used to attach rhinestones, or crystals, to fabric. Your choice depends on the type of material you are attaching to, and the look you want in the finished product.

Tiffany Settings Rim Settings
Rhinestone with Tiffany Settings Rhinestone with Rim Settings

Tiffany settings enter from the back of the fabric and crimp over the stone on the front side. We offer them in gold, silver, or black and in several styles and sizes. Rim settings are placed on the front of the fabric, over the stone, and crimped on the back side of the fabric. They are available in gold, silver, black, antique gold and antique copper with engraved or smooth finishes. In addition, we offer metal setting tools.

PDF File Mechanical Method - From the Swarovski Elements Application Guide (used by permission)

Sewing Method

Sew On flat back rhinestones have holes in them for attaching by traditional sewing methods. Rhinestones by the yard (such as banding, chain, fabric) are often sewn on to costumes and apparel. Rhinestone buttons, patches, appliques and transfers are also available for quick ways to add extra sparkle to your costumes.

PDF File Sewing - from the Swarovski Elements Application Guide (Used by permission)
PDF File Attaching Sequins with Seed Beads - Tips from a Vicki, a Rhinestones Unlimited customer who designs synchronized swimming costumes

Hot Fix Method

Flat back rhinestones or crystals for costume trim can also be purchased with a pre-applied heat sensitive glue on the back. This special glue melts into the fibers of your fabric forming a permanent bond. Read detailed information on How to Use Hot Fix Rhinestones (Crystals).