It’s SO much fun to add extra sparkle to clothes and accessories and there a so many ways to do it right and so many ways to regret, I thought I’d share a few of my successful methods with my friends. I’m not ‘just’ a costumer, I’m also a professional cabaret style belly dancer which means sparkles are basically my life 😉
For starters, let’s talk rhinestones. That first costume pictured is foiled velvet with rhinestone flames created with three colors of stones in three different sizes. I could have bought Swarovski flat backed heat-set crystals but I find that particularly with the smaller sizes, they are actually over faceted and the less expensive but still high quality Precosia heat set crystals actually give me more eye catching bling for my buck. I didn’t use all the stones I bought but this was over $300 in stones. If you want to completely cover the surface area of a garment, be prepared for a LOT of labor and investment of money. I used a Kandy Cane tool to heat set my rhinestones and kept a straight pin handy because sometimes the glue of the stone makes contact with the hot metal of the Kandy Cane and won’t release when touched to the fabric without some help.
There are two other ways to attach small flat-backed crystals. You can purchase prongs that you push up from the back side of the fabric and collapse around the stone or you can use a dot of glue and place the rhinestone that way. Prongs are notorious for snagging on things which can damage fabric (or skin) and can also open the prong enough for the stone to fall out. It can also form a hole in the fabric where the prongs had to pierce the material. I would only use prongs for a non-garment project. The amount of movement and friction a garment is subjected to is just begging for prong problems.
As for glue, there are tons of choices out there. Most of them suggest you use just enough glue that when the stone is pressed down, the glue rises up and beads around the rim of the stone. Does it ever work that perfectly? Not for me. I get glue smears on my facets and dull the shine, I get glue bleeding into my fabric creating stiff spots of a darker color or I get stones that don’t stick because I pressed the stone too hard and too much of the glue soaked through the fabric. If I have to glue anything my go-to glues are Fabri-Tac and E-6000. Both are clear and flexible and take a while to dry and cure.