How to Iron and Glue Rhinestones to Your T-Shirts and More

Updated on April 11, 2016

Rhinestone Introduction

For those of you who love rhinestones on clothing and/or just about anything and everything, this hub is for you. I don't know about you, but I sometimes get a little agitated when I see how expensive it can be for something with rhinestones on it. I have seen hoodies, belts and jeans cost a mini fortune. Of course, most of the cost goes to the crystals if they are Swarovski and the labor, especially if there are a lot of rhinestones to glue on. However, the mark up can be a little ridiculous. Swarovski rhinestones are the best in my opinion. They come in too many colors to count and in various cuts and sizes. They also sparkle and shine the best. If you want something to stand out, definitely go with the Swarovski. Check online or other craft stores for bulk crystals and rhinestones. You will get more for your money when you buy in bulk. When I lived in California, I used to buy them in the Los Angeles Fashion/Garment District. I absolutely love that area because you can get great deals and wholesale prices on almost anything and everything. Check them out online. In this hub, I will provide a step by step guide with photos on how easy it is to iron and glue on rhinestones.

Glue on Rhinestones


Rhinestones come in all shapes, sizes and backings. Some backings of rhinestones are for gluing, some for ironing and some already have glue on them called heat activated adhesive. In this case, you would use either a bejeweler which is an electric rhinestone applicator that usually comes with as many as 8 tips to fit the different sized rhinestones, or you can use a hot plate which is what professionals use for doing multiple projects. The photo above includes some of the supplies I suggest for gluing on rhinestones. This glue is the best in my opinion. It's very strong and dries fast and clear. Always be careful while handling this glue, as with most glue it contains chemicals and is also industrial strength, we wouldn't want you to glue your fingers together. ;) This glue is also waterproof, non-flammable, flexible, paintable, and is also safe for photographs. The other supplies in this photo will help make gluing on rhinestones very easy and not as messy. The pink squares are flexible for wrapping around the end of the toothpick. After you mold the pink square to the toothpick, you can use the pink end to pick up the rhinestone from the sparkly side, and then add a dab of glue to the other side. After you have some glue on the rhinestone, place it on the spot where you want your rhinestone to go then use your finger to keep the rhinestone in place while carefully taking the toothpick off of the rhinestone. You can add rhinestones to pretty much anything, fabric, clothing, glass, wood, leather, ceramics, paper, foams and metal. Try it out on whatever you want to shine, you won’t be disappointed.


Iron on Rhinestones

Ironing on rhinestones is the easiest and fastest way to make your clothes and accessories sparkle. You can find single rhinestones and crystals that are iron on to get the look you want. There is also my favorite, iron on appliqués which could be words, numbers, symbols and other fabulous designs. You can find pretty much any design of appliqué you want already assembled for you and ready to iron on. Below is my step by step guide to easily transform your t-shirt, hoodie, belt, or even purse from bland to glam.



Step 1

 If you are going to use a new item of clothing or fabric to iron on an applique, always make sure to first wash the item so that there is no future shrinkage or color fading after the rhinestones are in place. I am using a purple hoodie sweatshirt that I found on sale for $7.

Step 2

Pick out your iron on appliqué and then decide where you would like to place that appliqué. I chose to place mine at the top right front of the sweatshirt. Make sure you are happy with where you want it placed, once it’s ironed on, there is no turning back.

Step 3

Take the white backing off of the iron on appliqué and place it sticky side down on your garment or fabric. Make sure it is on there smooth and that it is not moving around. You want it to iron on exactly where you want it.

Step 4

Now we are ready for ironing. Make sure that before you plug in your iron, there is no water in it. You don’t want to use water or steam when ironing on appliqués. Next, you will want to find something to place over the appliqué while ironing. You can use a piece of cotton, fabric or maybe an old t-shirt. You don’t want to use anything heavy and you don’t want to use anything that will ruin your iron, so cotton would be perfect. I always use a pillowcase, works perfectly. I only use one side of it because using both might be too thick to get the heat all the way through.

Step 5

Make sure the iron is on a medium setting and remember to make sure that the steam setting is off. Place the iron on top of your cotton piece that is on top of the appliqué and press down for 30 seconds. Turn your item to the other side and hold the iron down on that side for about 20 seconds. Then turn your item back to the right side and place the iron on it for another 20 seconds. Let it cool for a few minutes. After a few minutes, it’s time to make sure that all of the rhinestones have been set on your item.

Step 6

Slowly and carefully start pealing the plastic cover off of your item. You want to make sure that all of the rhinestones have set into your item. There might be a few stragglers, as soon as you see one or more rhinestones that have not stuck, carefully place the plastic cover back down on your item and place the pillowcase back over it and hold down your iron over it for another 20-30 seconds. Let cool another minute or two, and then try to slowly and carefully peel the plastic cover off again until all the rhinestones are attached to your garment or fabric. That is the last and final step. Make sure you let your item fully cool before you wear it, 10 minutes or so. Also wait at least 24 hours before washing again if you need to. I suggest that the next time you do wash your garment or fabric, use the gentle cycle so that there is more of a chance of the rhinestones not falling off. Also hang dry. The rhinestones will sometimes fall off with use and washing, however if you take care of it, they will last longer. I sometimes use huge appliqués like angel wings and I have had to individually glue on some of the missing rhinestones. It’s a quick fix and all this is way cheaper then what you might find in some stores.  


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    • profile image

      Sabrina Standley 

      13 months ago

      What are the “pink squares”?

    • profile image


      20 months ago

      Wow that is great

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Can you have your own design pre made somewhere and have them sent to you to now iron on?


    • profile image

      Barbara Todd 

      2 years ago

      What's the best glue for fixing jeans and Shirts that the stones have fallen off of?

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Very informative! How about self adhesive, can they be used on fabric and what you can do to makesure they stay on?

    • profile image

      Linda Bradshaw 

      5 years ago

      I bought a shirt off of Ebay that had rhinestones on it. When it arrived, some of the rhinestones had already fallen off, leaving some glue spots in their place. I have the rhinestones (they were still in the bag.) What is the best way to re-apply these stones?

    • JessicasPulse profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks erorantes! I love putting rhinestones on everything. ;)

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 

      6 years ago from Miami Florida

      I like your hub misss. Jessica. Thank you fot your instructions on how to apply the rhinestones on the T shirt. I love it . You are creative with your writing. Marvelous hub.

    • JessicasPulse profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks Talfonso, I agree, it is so worth the maximum bling. And if you live near a city that has a garment district or are going to be visiting one, I recommend getting them there because they sell them for wholesale prices. I usually get mine in L.A. or NYC. If not, then maybe look online for places that sell them in bulk. If you go to the craft stores, they are going to cost, but I always try to use a coupon. ;)

    • talfonso profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Many accolades to this Hub! I am a rhinestone-holic and love all different kinds of stones - acrylic, Korean hotfix, and all that. But I have to agree that while Swarovski is expensive, it's worth the maximum bling. In fact, I haven't used it before, but am considering buying it if I have the money!


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