How to Make a Rhinestone Transfer or Design Part 1 - Hand Applicators

Rhinestone Hand Applicators

How to Make a Rhinestone Transfer or Design Part 1 – Hand Applicators

Rhinestones, or “bling” as many in the industry call it, is one of the fastest growing parts of the apparel decorating industry. Its growing popularity is at least partially due to the increasingly better, easier and cheaper technologies that allow more people to create rhinestone designs or rhinestone transfers.

The methods for adding rhinestones to garments, or creating the design to do so called a rhinestone transfer, are typically divided up into 3 segments; Hand Application, Template or “shake and bake” and Automatic. We will take a look at Hand Application today.

Rhinestone Hand Application

Hand Application is an accurate and descriptive term for the first method. The idea is to add Hotfix rhinestones (rhinestones that come with glue already on the flat side of the stone) directly to a garment one at a time. Your supplies usually consist of just the Hotfix rhinestones themselves, or you may use Rhinestuds or Nailheads which are metal versions of Rhinestones, and the garment itself.

In its simplest application, you could just use tweezers to place the Hotfix rhinestones on the garment where you like, then use an iron to heat them up and melt the glue onto the garment. But this is incredibly tedious and almost never comes out right because the stones will move around.

The use of a hand applicator wand is highly recommended. Think of the Wands as large, oversized pens that you plug in. They come with tips that fit different sized Hotfix rhinestones. Screw in the tip that fits the stones you’re working with, pick up the stone and the tip is actually acting as a heat source to warm the glue up on the bottom of the stone. You will pick up the stone, let it heat up, then simply place it on the garment and press firmly. No ironing necessary. The biggest inconvenience with these Wands is that you have to change tips for different sized stones, and the tips are HOT, and the stones can get stuck in the wand and cause problems.

There is one hand applicator that does perform above the crowd of options offered at craft stores, the Glitz Up Tool. Glitz Up is a vacuum based applicator wand that hold the stones up, not by jamming into the tip, but by vacuum power. While it does come with several tips for different sizes of stones, the vacuum method makes it much faster, more accurate and more fun! The Glitz Up Tool is also at the top of the price range for hand appliators at about $99.

One of the best techniques we’ve seen used with a Glitz Up style tool is to combine it with regular printer and washable fabric marker or marking pen. The steps are simple! Just find a design you like online or draw one yourself using any software available. Print out your design and cut around the edges. Trace with your marking pen, then add your Hot fix Rhinestones on the lines. When you wash the garment, the pen will disappear and you’re left with nothing but your own original garment.

You can get great results on your existing wardrobe or new items by adding a little bling with a Rhinestone Hand Applicator tool.

Note about Rhinestones

Whatever hand application method you choose, the quality of the Hotfix rhinestones, Rhinestuds and Nailheads are just as important as the design itself. There will be a full article on choosing the right rhinestones, but just remember these 2 simple suggestions for now:

1. Glass or Crystal is better than acrylic – Acrylic Rhinestones are plastic and just don’t have the shine as a glass product. You can usually tell they’re acrylic just by the low price.

2. Hotfix – you do not want to get regular, “flatback” rhinestones! They typically do not come with glue already attached so you’ll end up using a toothpick or brush to add to each stone.

There are many tools, techniques and machines to help add bling to your wardrobe or start you off in the rhinestone business. Hand application is one way to either dip your toe into the professional or resale market pool or just to have fun updating your own clothing, making presents or adding to crafts you’re already making.





Glitz Up Tool In Action

Colman and Company Demonstrates the Glitz Up Tool

Hand Applicator - no Vacuum

Hand Applicator Example

Vacuum Rhinestone Applicator - The Glitz Up Tool