A Guide To Acrylic Rhinestones

Acrylic rhinestones are suitable for many craft projects. This guide will help you select the appropriate type of acrylic rhinestone for your next project.

Acrylic rhinestones are an inexpensive way to add dazzle to your crafty projects. Made from plastic resin, these colorful stones are offered in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are many ways to attach acrylic rhinestones to your projects. They can be ironed on, glued on, sewn on, or crimped on using stone settings. Some are even available with a peel and stick backing. Choosing acrylic rhinestones that are appropriate for your specific project is easy if you keep a few things in mind.

Acrylic rhinestone cuts, colors and quality.

Acrylic rhinestones are available both with and without facets. Faucets are the flat cuts made on a rhinestone's surface for the purpose of refracting and reflecting light. Quality cuts will result in a rhinestone with high luster and shine. Rhinestones that do not have facets, often referred to as cabochons, are great for making pendants.

There are many colors available to choose from, yet one of the most popular stones remains the clear crystal rhinestone. Crystal acrylic rhinestones have a mirrored backside, as do many acrylic rhinestones; however, on the clear crystal stones the mirrored backside reflects not only light, but also nearby colors. A similar effect can be achieved if you use acrylic stones that have been treated with an Aurora Borealis (AB) coating. AB is an iridescent finish that is applied to the mirrored backing. Acrylic stones with this type of finish sparkle most when they are directly under lights and would be perfect for stage costumes.

Although acrylic rhinestones are the least expensive type of stone on the market there are variations in quality. Higher quality stones are cast in molds and then laser cut. These stones should not have any nicks or blemishes and their luster and clarity will be noticeably superior to the lower quality stones. Lower quality stones are cast in molds and frequently produced in large quantities. These stones are still attractive; however, they are more likely to have mold tabs that will need to be removed before using. Mold tabs are little bits of plastic that sometimes stick to the stone when it is being removed from the mold.

Using hot-fix acrylic rhinestones.

Hot-fix acrylic rhinestones have been treated with a heat-activated glue. When the glue is heated it bonds to the surface of your project and sets the rhinestone in place. You can use a regular household iron to apply the rhinestones or if you prefer you may want to invest in a hot-fix applicator. The advantage of using a hot-fix applicator is that the heat is concentrated in the precise spot that you want your rhinestone to adhere to. This is particularly useful if you are working with objects that are not suitable for ironing. Hot-fix applicators will allow you to use heat-activated rhinestones on a wide variety of items such as wood, ceramic, paper crafts and candles. You can find them at most craft or fabric stores for around $20 - $30. If you are using hot-fix rhinestones on clothing it is important to choose a brand of stone that can be laundered. The heat-activated glue can sometimes be reactivated in the washer or drier causing the stones to fall off. Dry cleaning can also cause the stones to fall off. Look for brands that have washing instructions printed clearly on the packaging. There is a huge selection of ready to use iron-on transfer designs available. You can find everything from words and sayings to animals and plants beautifully designed with iron-on rhinestones. The manufacturers that make this kind of product almost always include washing instructions. You should never attempt to use hot-fix rhinestones on leather. Leather requires the use of metal mountings. If properly cared for, acrylic rhinestones should adhere to your fabric projects for quite a while; however, if you are creating something that you wish to keep for future generations it would be best to use metal mountings. Overall, hot-fix rhinestones are excellent when using on inexpensive items that you do not expect to keep as family heirlooms.

Using flat back acrylic rhinestones.

Flat back acrylic rhinestones can be used with metal settings or simply glued into place. You can create wonderful pendants and earrings with easy to use metal jewelry settings. Available at jewelry supply stores, these settings are inexpensive and user friendly. When selecting your stones and settings you may notice that the size is often listed as SS followed by a number. SS stands for stone size. For the sake of reference, it can be helpful to keep in mind that SS 000 is about the size of the head of a pin and a SS 75 is about the size of a U.S. dime. Be sure to find settings that are the same shapes and sizes as your stones. To use these jewelry settings you simply snap or push the rhinestone into place and metal prongs keep it secured.

There are also metal settings designed for use with fabric. These settings are a great idea if you are creating fabric items that need to be somewhat durable. Ice skaters and dancers frequently wear costumes with rhinestones attached in this way. There are two common types of metal settings available, tiffany settings and rim settings. Tiffany settings come in many different shapes and sizes and are very easy to use. They have sharp prongs, often referred to as legs, which are pushed through the backside of the fabric. The acrylic rhinestone is then set into place and the prongs are pushed down around the face of the stone to secure it. The drawback to using this type of setting is that it easily snags on any fabric that it brushes against.

Rim settings are also offered in many different shapes and sizes and are just as easy to use. These settings have a rim that fits neatly around the face of the stone. The sharp prongs are then pushed through the front side of the fabric. Since the prongs are closed on the backside of the fabric there are no sharp edges exposed for other fabrics to get caught on. There is one drawback when using this type of setting. If you are using this setting on clothing it is a good idea to line the inside of your fabric once the rhinestones have been attached. This will prevent the prongs from poking at your skin.

Either setting can be used without any special tools to set the stones or close the prongs. If you are working on a large project or if you plan to set acrylic stones on a regular basis you may want to consider purchasing a mechanical setter. Mechanical setters are reasonably priced and are available at most craft stores and hobby shops. Be sure to choose a setter that will accommodate the type of fabric you wish to use. Leather often requires a heavy-duty machine, or an attachment.

Flat back acrylic rhinestones can also be glued onto your projects. There are a few things to keep in mind before using glue. Super glues should never be used on acrylic rhinestones. When super glue is applied to the back of an acrylic rhinestone it affects the rhinestone's color. Hot glue will work okay with larger rhinestones, although this glue will yellow and weaken with age. If you are attaching stones to a base metal you should use an epoxy-based glue. There are quite a few on the market, look for brands that do not require any mixing. If you are gluing stones to fabric try using a brand of tac glue. Tac glues work well when used on porous or semi-porous surfaces such as cloth or vinyl.

Using pointed back acrylic rhinestones.

Pointed back acrylic rhinestones are great for making rings. Easy to use settings are available for in many different styles. These settings are similar to the pendant settings for flat back stones. To use you simply select a ring setting that is the same size as your stone and snap the stone into place.

Using sew-on acrylic rhinestones, bandings and trim.

Sew-on acrylic rhinestones have flat backs and are available with center holes or edge holes. Large rhinestones are sold with several edge holes for secure attachment. Sewing acrylic rhinestones onto fabric is simple; however, it can be very time consuming because it is done by hand.

Rhinestone bandings are literally rhinestones banded together. Bandings are usually sold by the foot or by the yard. Sewing a banding onto fabric is a little quicker than sewing individual rhinestones and the results are just as stunning. Bandings are frequently used to make dress straps.

Rhinestone trim is decorative fabric with rhinestones attached. This is probably the quickest way to sew rhinestones onto fabric because you can usually use a sewing machine. This type of trim is frequently used on wedding dresses and veils.

Using peel and stick acrylic rhinestones.

Peel and stick acrylic rhinestones are very easy to use and can be secured to a number of objects. Eventually these rhinestones will lose their stickiness and they should not be used on items that you want to preserve for a long period of time. Since they are so inexpensive and so easy to use they are very popular and come in a wide assortment of shapes, colors and sizes. They are great way to dress up handmade greeting cards and wrapping paper. Kids will also enjoy using this type of rhinestone. One fun project for kids to make is a simple jeweled crown using poster paper and peel and stick rhinestones.

Add some sparkle to your next project with acrylic rhinestones. Choosing the correct type of acrylic rhinestone for your project is easy if you follow this simple guide. The creative possibilities are limitless.

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