How to Put Rhinestones on Clothes

by Shelley Moench-Kelly

Buying custom clothing is an expensive proposition these days, whether the customization is in fit, material or personalization. Adding rhinestones to your clothes is an easy way to personalize your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Rhinestones are available online or from craft stores and can be applied in several ways. The two most popular ways are outlined here: hot fix rhinestones and flatbacks.

Flatback rhinestones

Flatback rhinestones are faceted on the front and feature a flat foil back. Use glue--similar to white liquid craft glue--to attach them securely to clothing.

Test the glue by applying a small drop to a scrap of fabric or a hidden seam of the clothing. Press the rhinestone into the glue; the glue spot must be just large enough to come up around the rhinestone edge to secure it once dry. If there’s too much glue, it will dull the sparkly effect of the rhinestones.

Allow the test rhinestone to set for 24 hours, then check to see if the stone is secure. If it’s not, opt for a stronger glue or specialty jewelry glue.

Sketch your design onto the garment with a soft pencil. Some prepackaged designs simply iron on if you’re wary of freehand drawing. Apply just enough glue to set as many stones as you can in 45 to 60 seconds; otherwise, the glue will start to dry and not hold the rhinestones securely.

Allow the garment to dry flat for at least 24 hours. Wait at least one week before washing, and wash by hand in cool water. Let air dry.

Heat fix rhinestones

Heat fix rhinestones--also known as hot fix rhinestones--are almost identical to flatbacks except their backs are coated with a thin film of glue that melts once heated with a special rhinestone heat gun.

Plug in the heat gun and wait for it to heat to the proper temperature--brands vary so pay attention to the specific instructions that come with your heat gun.

Press the tip of the gun onto the top of the rhinestone and wait a few seconds for the heat to melt the glue.

Press the rhinestone onto the garment and hold the heat gun in place for the indicated amount of time (as noted in its instructions).

As with flatbacks, allow the garment to dry flat for at least 24 hours. Wait at least one week before washing, and wash by hand in cool water. Let air dry.

Items you will need

  • Rhinestones
  • Soft pencils
  • Beeswax or candle wax
  • Glue (for flatbacks)
  • Hot fix heat gun (for hot fix rhinestones)


  • For applying flatback rhinestones, use a homemade applicator stick. Put a pea size ball of beeswax or candle wax on the end of a pencil and use this to gently pick up and place the rhinestones.
  • Don’t use tweezers to apply flatbacks. They’ll pick up glue and transfer it to the rhinestones.
  • Sandwich a thick magazine inside your garment to protect the opposite side from glue leaks.


  • Glue can emit fumes, so make sure your work area is well ventilated.
  • Keep the heat gun on a silicone mat or glass pan to protect you and your work surface from burns.

About the Author

Shelley Moench-Kelly is a writer and editor whose clients range from L'Oreal and to the McGraw-Hill Companies and FIDM. She has interviewed notables such as Dr. Andrew Ordon of “The Doctors” and the legendary Vidal Sassoon. Her first book, "Egg," is slated for release in 2016.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images