How to Iron on Rhinestones

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Through the centuries, rhinestones--crystal, glass and plastic designed to imitate cut gemstones--have enabled people from all walks of life to own the grandeur and beauty of precious gems without the expense of buying or caring for the real thing. Rhinestones can adorn nearly any material and have been used on a wide variety of surfaces and settings such as theater items, imitation jewelry pieces and fashions. With a little preparation and patience, you can easily adorn any heat-suitable surface with iron-on rhinestones.

Things You'll Need

  • Material
  • Pre-drawn design (optional)
  • Fabric pencil
  • Transfer paper (optional)
  • Iron
  • Loose rhinestones
  • Rhinestone transfer (optional)
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton cloth
  • Lay your fabric, leather or other material on a flat, hard surface with the design surface facing up. If you haven't pre-drawn your design, do so at this time. Skip to Step 3 if you have an iron-on rhinestone transfer.

  • Use a fabric pencil to draw the outline of your design---the rhinestone positions---on the material or create your design using transfer paper. To use transfer paper, draw your design on normal paper or on the computer and print, place a piece of transfer paper transfer side face down on the material, lay your drawing on top and retrace the design.

  • Set your iron to its lowest setting and run it gently over the top of the fabric, leather or other material to warm it.

  • Remove the backing of your loose flat back iron-on rhinestones. Create your rhinestone design by positioning/affixing them to your fabric, leather or other material using tweezers and then pull/reposition any loose rhinestones as needed. If you have an iron-on rhinestone transfer, remove the backing from the rhinestones and lay the entire transfer design on your material. In addition to the sticky back surface of each rhinestone, the warmed material helps slightly melt the adhesive on the back of the rhinestones to keep them in place.

  • Place a thin piece of cotton cloth--ideally, a piece of white T-shirt material--gently across the top of the rhinestones and lightly set your iron on top of the cloth at the outermost edge or corner of your design.

  • Wait 30 seconds and remove. Count to 10 and gently lift one corner of the cloth to confirm that the glue of rhinestone at the outermost edge of your design has melted. If not, repeat until the adhesive melts.

  • Iron the rest of your rhinestone design and then set aside to cool.

Tips & Warnings

  • If ironing flat back iron-on rhinestones to material that has both a front and a back that come together when flat (for example, T-shirts or pant legs), place a clean, white piece of cotton fabric or cardboard between the layers so the adhesive cannot melt through to the other side.
  • Always patch test a section of your material with the low-set hot iron to confirm that the material won't change color, burn or melt.
  • Never use a steam iron to affix rhinestones as the steam can break down the adhesive.
  • Always lay the iron directly on top of the crystal rhinestones instead of rubbing the iron across them. Melted adhesive can create lubrication between rhinestones and material causing them to shift off pattern if forward, backward or side-to-side pressure is applied.

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