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Choose Your Attachment Method

Gluing rhinestones to fabric Image of hotfix tool Rhinestones can be sewn on Rhinestone in Rim setting

Wondering how to attach flat back rhinestones? One of the first steps in embellishing with crystals is choosing how you wish to attach the rhinestones to your garment, accessory or art project.

  • Adhesives for Non-Hotfix Flat Backs
  • Hotfix Application of Hotfix Flat Backs
  • Sew On Crystals
  • Metal Settings for Non-Hotfix Flat Backs or Fancy Stones
  • Swarovski® Crystal Applicator Tool for use with Rose Pins, Rivets, Snaps and Buttons

Flat back rhinestones are versatile enough for all four methods. Others, such as pointed back rhinestones, may be limited to attachment with adhesives or specialty fit metal settings. In most cases, and especially for beginners, the adhesive method—if your project material is suitable—may be the easiest. For details on specialty attachment methods, such as metal soldering, please see the Swarovski® Application Manual.

Adhesives/Glue On Method

Gluing rhinestones to fabric

Both beginners and crystalling veterans use the adhesive method to attach their rhinestones, as it is portable, precise and requires little investment in equipment. There is a myriad of adhesives available on the market today that are specially formulated to attach crystal and crystal trimmings. We are happy to recommend an adhesive for your project, but the results are, ultimately, dependent on you, the user. Glues should be used for the intent and materials listed on the label. Remember to test your glues, materials and methods on a scrap or in an inconspicuous area before beginning each project. Make sure the glue secures all edges of the stone to minimize them catching and peeling off, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always wash the finished project with great care. 

Our best-selling and most recommended glues for attaching non-hotfix flat back crystals to fabric are E6000, Beacon Gem Tac and Eclectic Fabri-Fuse. We do NOT recommend using (1) isocyanate glues (e.g., instant adhesives like super glue), (2) any glue containing acetone, or (3) hot glue.

We have tools to aid in application, such as syringes for precision placement of the glue and pick-up tools to place the stones. Additional resources:

Hotfix Method

Image of hotfix tool

Hotfix is also referred to as “iron-on.” Hotfix flat back crystals are manufactured with a heat-activated fabric glue on the back of the product. (Motifs/transfers, hotfix.) The heating elements most commonly used are: a heat press for large scale manufacturing, a household iron (use a faceplate without steam holes) or a handheld precision wand called a hotfix tool. When correctly applied, hotfix glue is said to be the strongest fabric adhesive available.

Wed carry two quality lines of hotfix crystals: Swarovski® and LUX Austrian Crystal™ (coming soon; call to order).

Additional resources:

Sewing/Sew On Method

Rhinestones can be sewn on

Special flat back rhinestones, fittingly referred to as "sew-ons," have holes through or behind the crystal in order for a needle and thread to pass through. Crystal pendants and beads, often used in jewelry, can be sewn on to fabrics as trim, as well as crystal “notions” such as buttons, zippers and buckles, and “rhinestones by the yard” such as banding and cup chain. Adaptations also exist, such as Fancy Stone metal settings, that allow a large Fancy Stone without holes to be secured into a metal setting, then sewn on. Appliques are available as a quick way to add extra sparkle to your project.

Additional resources:

Metal Settings Method

Rhinestone in Rim setting

There are two types of metal settings for non-hotfix flat back rhinestones: Tiffany settings and Rim settings. Both Tiffany and Rim settings accommodate flat back stones and are primarily used with fabric or leathers. Tiffany settings enter from the back side of the fabric and fold over the front of the stone, sandwiching the fabric against the flat back of the crystal. Rim settings fit over the top perimeter of the stone, folding against the back side of the fabric.

Fancy Stone settings can be used with cushion back Fancy Stones to encase the stone, then can be sewn on to fabric, glued, or soldered into jewelry.  The Fancy Stone settings do not attach the crystal to fabric without the additional step of sewing or gluing. Though it’s possible to secure metal settings by hand, additional tools may be helpful.

Additional resources: