In the dazzling world of performance arts, the visual spectacle of a rhinestone costume plays an important role in captivating the audience and enhancing the overall impact of the performance. The sparkle of these rhinestone embellished costumes can dramatically transform a performers presence on stage, making maintenance an essential part of costume care. Over time, the inevitable wear and tear, plus regular washing, can dull the shine of rhinestone costumes or lead to missing or scratched stones. To preserve the durability aesthetic appeal of stage costumes or dancewear, regular repairs become necessary.

Assessing the Costume

  • General Care of Garment - Every so often, you should inspect your costume, prop, stage accessory, dance dress or other performance outfit to check for loose or missing rhinestones. Loss of rhinestones is most likely to be caused by general wear and tear, overuse, mis-handling of garment or over washing.
  • Identify Damaged Area – Take note of any areas that are particularly damaged or have crystals missing. You may find a residue of glue left behind or some loose thread if it’s a missing sew on stone.
  • Gather Materials – For rhinestone repairs you will need replacement rhinestones (we can help identify what is missing if you are unsure), craft glue or hotfix applicator depending on whether you have used hotfix or non hotfix rhinestones, needle and thread for replacing sew on stones.

Preparation for Repairs

  • Cleaning – Make sure your garment is clean, dust and dirt free. This ensures the new rhinestones will adhere properly to the fabric and will stop any little bits sticking to the glue.
  • Proper Working Area – Give yourself plenty of clean space to work, have all of your required tools nearby for easy access, make sure your work surface is solid and flat. It is best to make repairs in natural daylight so you don’t strain your eyes.
  • Colour Matching – Before staring your repair job, make sure you have selected the right colours to match the existing rhinestones. We can help with this if you are unsure, simply contact us for advice. Or you can purchase a colour chart.

Simple Steps to Repair Rhinestone Costume

  • Removing Loose Rhinestones – Firstly, check for loose stones, you may as well replace these now so it saves you a job next time. Gently run your hands over the crystallised fabric and you will feel straight away if any are loose. You may be able to pull them off yourself, but if not, use a sharp tool like a craft knife to ease the stone off. Take care not to pierce the fabric.
  • Replacing Non Hotfix Rhinestones – If you are using embellishing with non hotfix rhinestones, we advise using Gem Tac or E6000 glue. Squeeze a small amount of glue (smaller than the size of your rhinestone) onto the fabric, allow a few seconds to get tacky, then pick up and place the rhinestone on top of the glue using a pick up tool. Push the rhinestone down with enough pressure to ensure the glue bonds, but not too much that the glue seeps out from the edges. Don’t worry if it does seep, it will dry crystal clear.
  • Applying Adhesive – It is important to use the correct glue for your fabric. Once you have the right glue, we recommend using an applicator syringe to apply it neatly and in small amounts.
  • Replacing Hotfix Rhinestones – If you are embellishing with hotfix rhinestones, you will need a household iron or hotfix applicator wand to apply them. To iron on rhinestones, place the stones shiny side up onto the fabric in your desired position, then cover with a sheet of baking paper to protect the fabric. Next, iron over the top (without any steam) for 10-20 seconds. The heat from the iron will melt the glue on the rhinestone and bond it to the fabric. To apply rhinestones with a hotfix wand, make sure you have the correct size tip screwed in, allow the tool to heat up, then use it to pick up and place the rhinestones.
  • Replacing Sew on Stones – if you are embellishing with sew on stones, you will need to have a needle and thread, preferably a thread that matches colour with your fabric. Some people like to glue their sew on stone in position first, to give extra durability, but it’s up to you. Once in position, sew the needle from the back of the fabric (inside of garment) through the hole in the rhinestone and bring it back down through the fabric as close to the stone as possible. Repeat this a few times to ensure a strong hold. Do this for every hole in the stone.

Refreshing Your Costume

Remember, maintaining the sparkle of your costume isn’t just about keeping on top of missing crystals, but also adding new ones to refresh and update the look. If your costume is looking a little tired after so much use, why not bring some fresh ideas to the design:

  • Bring it back to life with new colours that compliment the current theme.
  • Add smaller rhinestones to any gaps for more crystal coverage
  • Incorporate sew on rhinestone shapes to add depth and texture
  • Use neutral coloured rhinestones to bring sparkle to the skin toned fabric areas such as sleeves or bust.
  • Accentuate key areas of the costume with bold colours or different crystal shapes.

Aftercare Tips

  • Drying Time – Once you have glued all your rhinestones into place, it is important to allow plenty of time for them to dry, 24 hours if possible. If you handle the garment, move it, or accidentally touch any of the drying rhinestones, it may cause them to move position or to come away from the fabric. This will affect the bond between the glue and the fabric so is likely to come loose.
  • Storage – To prevent future damage to your rhinestone costume, ensure it is properly stored. The best way to store a rhinestone costume is hung up in a wardrobe, preferably in a suit bag to keep it away from dust. This is also the best way to transport your costume.
  • Cleaning - If the costume needs to be washed, we always recommend hand washing, inside out if possible. Use only warm water with a small amount of detergent, and avoid fabric conditioner. Also avoid using a washing machine, dry cleaners or tumble dryer.

Keeping a rhinestone costume in good shape is important for making sure it always looks great on stage and lasts longer. Simple care and adding new crystals now and then can make old costumes shine like new, saving money and keeping special outfits ready for the spotlight.