Thursday, 20 November 2014


Recently, we did our very first tag post, and it had a question on sport, which enabled me to start waffling on about how much I love dancing. Before that, I had somehow managed not to mention it on this blog, even though I can hardly shut up about it in real life (just ask poor Poppy).

I do ballroom and Latin dance, or Dancesport as it’s known competitively, and every so often I’ll be doing posts on bits and bobs related to that. The best thing about dance, though, and particularly dance as it’s going to feature on this blog, is that all the useful stuff I’ve picked up about it is also easily adaptable into everyday situations, even if you’re a non-dancer.

Bearing that in mind, this post is all about adding rhinestones to dancewear – although, of course, you could and should add rhinestones to whatever the hell you want. It’s a bit of a fiddly process but I’ve done it a few times now and hopefully the tricks I’ve picked up will prove useful, whether you’re stoning a Latin shirt for dance or adding the words ‘KISS ME, IT’S CHANNING TATUM’S BIRTHDAY’ to a jumper (both valid pursuits; I swear).

The other week, my friend Ben leant over the table in the middle of a pub quiz and said, “Nollie, you know I was going to rhinestone my Latin shirt… I’m not sure about it…” and so I shut him up, took his rhinestones and shirt and set about this project.  

The first thing you’ll need to do is get hold of your rhinestones – there are loads and loads of great online retailers, so do your research and pick one that fits your style and budget (I like this one and this one). The important things to think about are size, shape and colour – these are little 3mm circular ones, in peridot green to match Ben’s gorgeous dance partner Lindsay’s dress. You’ll also need to think about your method of application - I’m gluing them on here, so we want flat-backed stones.

I’ll be gluing the stones on in this post, as it’s my preferred method for dancewear – hot-fixing is more fiddly and requires specialist equipment, and sewing on that scale is a nightmare for fabrics like Lycra or stretch lace as it ruins the structural integrity. Make sure you’re using proper rhinestone glue – you can get it from Amazon, or straight from dance websites like DSI or rhinestone websites like the ones mentioned above. Normal superglue will show up yellow on the clothes and ruin your life; also it dries faster than rhinestone glue and so increases the likelihood that you’ll end up with plain dancewear but beautifully embellished hands.  


For Ben’s shirt, I’m doing starbursts on the collar and cuffs, and then with whatever’s left over I’m going to scatter stones down the plackets and around the back of the collar as well.  Because this is a specific design, I’ve (badly) drawn out the size and shape I want and dotted along it so that I can work out exactly how many stones I need. By far the easiest thing to do is separate your stones into little bowls or egg cups or whatever by section, to make sure you don’t run out too early (“KISS ME IT’S CHANNING TAT-“). If you’re doing words, you might want to do this by letter.

It’s SUPER IMPORTANT to protect the parts of the clothes you’re not stoning, especially putting cardboard or plastic between the layers in case the glue seeps through. For dancewear, it’s also important to stretch the fabric as though someone’s wearing it – pillows, bottles and big bits of cardboard are good. This is so the glue doesn’t tear away from the fabric as it’s stretched later on and fire the rhinestones off at unsuspecting passersby. I’m just doing the collar and cuffs of this shirt (tempting though it was to stone Ben’s initials in massive letters on the back), so stretching isn’t super important, but I’ve put cardboard all over the shop just to protect the rest of the material.

Unless the design you’re doing is super uniform and you’re confident you can space it out by eye, you probably want to draw it onto the fabric. I use chalk for this, sharpened into a point (eyeliner sharpeners are great for that), but you can also use a pencil (CAREFULLY) or, in a pinch, eyeliner – BUT make sure it’s not wax-based or waterproof, because then it can create a seal between the fabric and the glue and stone won’t be as secure.


Rhinestone glue works a bit like false eyelash glue – you apply the glue, leave it for 10-20 seconds (this can vary depending on the brand, so it’s best to test it first on paper or spare fabric) and then, when it’s tacky, apply the stone. I like to dot the glue over part of the design and time it so that I can do lots of stones in a row, so that it doesn’t actually take up the rest of my life. If the glue you’re using has a nib, that should work fine as it’s usually a  thick adhesive, but if it’s thin or if it’s just in a bottle, toothpicks work well for dotting.

The trickiest part about applying rhinestones to anything is picking the little fuckers up. There are many and varied ways to go about this. To start with, it’s easiest to pour out the number of stones you need for any one bit of the design (from your egg cup, remember?) onto paper. Then, spend a couple of minutes faffing around turning them all right-side-up, like when you start a jigsaw puzzle.

You can use tweezers to pick the stones up, but I find this too fiddly and also there’s a risk of getting glue on the blades of the tweezers and then on the wrong parts of the fabric. If your heart is set on tweezers, the best kind are the enormous plastic ones with the thin, blunt blades and not your run-of-the-mill eyebrow variety. 

If you have tiny pixie fingers, or if you’re using large stones (about 4/5mm plus), it’s actually simplest to pick the stones up by pressing the tip of your finger onto it and then just dabbing it down onto the glue. You have to work fast, or you’ll just drop rhinestones everywhere, but it’s a pretty solid method.

For small stones like these, though, by far the easiest method is with wax. You can buy all sorts of tools for this, like straight beeswax, these wax pencils, or this incredibly fancy looking thing, but, because I’m incredibly lazy, I make my own. I use a normal tealight (they tend to have softer wax than normal candles) and the stick of a cotton bud, with the cotton removed from both ends. Melt the candle a bit and dip the stick in and out a few times until there’s a blob of wax on one end. Tada!

To pick the stones up, you just press the wax gently right onto the stone, and then tap it gently down onto the glue. I use the opposite end of the cotton stick to poke it about a bit if it’s in the wrong place, and to tap down firmer once I’m sure of its placement.


Slow and steady really, really wins the rhinestoning race. If you’ve got spare stones, or using sequins or other small bits of tat, I really recommend practising on paper or scrap fabric first, just to get the hang of it.

Everyone takes my blog photography v. seriously.
I also like to leave a design to dry for several days before it has to be worn or moved overmuch – the glue will be properly dry after a couple of hours, but because it’s setting onto fabric, the longer you can leave it without moving it, the more secure it will be.

If you have a minor disaster and get some glue where it shouldn’t be, don’t panic. Use another cotton bud dipped in some warm water and just smooth the glue off the fabric. If it’s dancewear (ie. Lycra, satin or stretch fabric of some other kind) it’s likely to have a spandex base and therefore stray glue should come off pretty easily.

And there you have it! Doesn't he look lovely? Rhinestoning things yourself means you have total control over the design (CHANNING TATUM, etc.), and it can save loads of money on dance competition wear as it’s far cheaper to buy unstoned pieces.

I hope this has been useful and only a little bit waffly, and that you’ll all use it to make something a little bit sparklier. Also, please appreciate the restraint I showed in not titling this post RHINESTONE COWBOY. 


  1. ooo Thats cool could do it on jeans and stuff too / Great post very crafty xox

    1. it's so easy once you get the hang of it too; doesn't take very long at all! thanks for reading =) N x

  2. that's such a cool little DIY!

    from helen at

    ps. if you want to, enter my christmas giveaway to win £660+ worth of beauty products! click here.

    1. yeah I love it! always nice to be a bit twinkly =) let me know if you give it a try! N x