Heat fixing rhinestones to clothing, dance fabric, interior fabric and other materials is a hugely popular way of embellishing, due to its simple and mess-free application method. We’re often asked, ‘what is the difference between Hotfix and Non Hotfix rhinestones?’ To put it simply, hotfix rhinestones require heat to attach them, whereas Non Hotfix rhinestones require glue to attach them.

If you’re new to the world of rhinestone craft and embellishment, it can be tricky to know which application method will work best for you, so it is always best to do some research on the difference between hotfix and non hotfix crystals before you start your project.

In this article, we’re going to look at the heat fixing method, and will answer the most commonly asked questions about hotfix rhinestone application: 

  1. What are hotfix rhinestones?

Hotfix rhinestones are small, sparkly embellishments, also known as iron on crystals, with a heat-activated adhesive on the back. They're commonly used for adding bling to various fabrics and materials. The glue which is incorporated into the foil backing of the rhinestone, means that no additional craft glue is required to attach it.

  1. How do hotfix rhinestones adhere to surfaces?

The adhesive on the back of hotfix rhinestones melts when heated, creating a bond with the fabric or material. Once it cools and solidifies, the rhinestones stay in place. The bond is so strong that the heat fixing method is often favoured by costume designers and dress makers who need to rely on a durable application.

  1. What's the best tool for applying hotfix rhinestones?

A hotfix applicator tool, also known as a hotfix wand, is the most convenient and efficient tool for applying hotfix rhinestones. It is compact, portable and comfortable to use.

  1. Can I use a regular iron to apply hotfix rhinestones?

Yes, you can use a household iron, but it's important to turn off the steam setting as this can prevent the glue sticking properly. Always use a tea towel or baking parchment to protect your fabric while ironing. Household irons are also useful for applying a rhinestone transfer.

  1. How long does it take for hotfix rhinestones to adhere properly?

Generally, hotfix rhinestones take about 10-15 seconds of heat application to adhere securely to the fabric. Smaller rhinestones such as 2mm – 3mm will take a little less time, and larger sizes such as 8mm – 11mm can take up to 20 seconds. Be sure to apply even pressure during this time.

  1. Can hotfix rhinestones be applied to any fabric or material?

Hotfix rhinestones work well on most fabrics including cotton, denim, lycra, crepe, satin, polyester and many more. However, we don’t recommend using hotfix rhinestones to decorate glass, plastic, rubber or leather.

  1. Do hotfix rhinestones withstand washing and drying?

If applied correctly, hotfix rhinestones are durable and can withstand regular washing and drying. However, it's advisable to hand wash using cool water and avoid fabric conditioner, as this can cause the rhinestones to fall off.

  1. What if a hotfix rhinestone falls off after washing?

If a rhinestone comes loose, you can reapply it using the same method with a hotfix applicator tool or a household iron. Make sure to clean the fabric surface before reapplying. When you come to wash next time, try hand washing only and avoid fabric conditioner.

  1. Can hotfix rhinestones be used for DIY crafts other than clothing?

Absolutely! Hotfix rhinestones are versatile and can be used for embellishing accessories, home decor, scrapbooks, greetings cards, textiles, soft furnishings, picture frames and more. Embellishing with hotfix crystals is a fun activity and can be applied to most rhinestone crafts.

  1. Are there any safety precautions when using hotfix rhinestones?

Yes, be cautious when working with hotfix rhinestones. The glue on the back of the rhinestone gets very hot when melted so avoided touching it with bare skin. The heated tool can cause burns, so handle it carefully. The hotfix applicator wand comes with safety instructions as well as a safety stand. Keep it away from children and ensure proper ventilation in your workspace.

  1. Can I mix and match different sizes and colours of hotfix rhinestones in one design?

Yes, you can create intricate designs by combining various sizes and colours of hotfix rhinestones. It's a great way to add dimension and flair to your projects. Hotfix rhinestones are popular for decorating greetings cards, which benefit from the use of varying sizes and colour. There are many options to choose from when it comes to hotfix rhinestones, be sure to check out the different rhinestone colours available in the Preciosa and Zodiac brand.

  1. Do hotfix rhinestones come in different shapes, or are they always round?

While round hotfix rhinestones are the most common, they also come in various shapes like square, rectangle, heart, navette, pearshape, kite and rhombus, allowing for more creative possibilities. These shapes cannot be used with the hotfix wand, therefore they require an iron to attach to fabric.

  1. Can I remove hotfix rhinestones once they are applied?

It's challenging to remove hotfix rhinestones without damaging the fabric, as the adhesive bond is so strong. Therefore, it's essential to plan your design carefully before applying them. If you have applied hotfix rhinestones to paper, card or other hard surfaces they may be possible to pick it off using a sharp tool. However, they cannot be reapplied.

  1. Are hotfix rhinestones safe for children's clothing and crafts?

Hotfix rhinestones can be used on children's clothing and crafts, but adult supervision is recommended during the application process to ensure safety. For younger children, we would recommend embellishing with non hotfix crystals as the child can get more involved without any concern about safety.

  1. Why are hotfix rhinestones more expensive than non hotfix?

In general, hotfix rhinestones are more expensive than their non hotfix equivalent because the manufacturing process is more costly. The adhesive attached to the back of a hotfix rhinestone means you do not have to purchase glue, so you can save money in that way.

  1. What are hotfix rhinestone sheets?

Hotfix rhinestone sheets are large sheets of rhinestones set in rows, that can be ironed straight onto a surface. They are great for applying many crystals in a block, so better for larger surface areas. These sheets are available in many different colours including AB, red, blue, black and hot pink. Here we have used the crystal clear sheets to add some sparkle to a plain denim jacket. This method is super simple, the crystals are supplied on a sheet so you can draw out your shape on the back and cut to size.

  1. What is a hotfix rhinestone transfer?

Hotfix transfers are pre-made rhinestone designs that can be ironed onto a surface. It is a quick and simple way of attaching rhinestones in one go. They come in many different designs, Preciosa have a fabulous range of pre-made transfers to choose from.

  1. Where can I find design inspiration and tutorials for hotfix rhinestone projects?

We have come up with 10 ways to use Preciosa hotfix crystals, or you can find a plethora of design ideas and tutorials online, including craft websites, blogs, and video platforms like YouTube.