Hotfix crystals, also known as iron on rhinestones, are easy to use crystal embellishments for decorating clothing, accessories, costumes, textiles, furniture and parchment craft. Hotfix rhinestones have glue incorporated into the foil backing of the stone, which is activated by heat and forms a strong bond with the surface of whatever you are embellishing. You can tell if a rhinestone is hotfix or non hotfix by the texture of the foil backing: smooth and flat = Non hotfix, rough and textured = Hotfix.

An introduction to Hotfix Crystals:

The term ‘hotfix’ refers to the method of applying the crystal, you fix it onto the surface with heat. Heat fixing can be carried out with a household iron or hotfix applicator wand (see below instructions). Hotfix rhinestones are suitable for most surfaces, although we wouldn't recommend using them on glass or plastic due to the heat from the applicator.

The hotfix method is much quicker than using non hotfix crystals, and there is no mess as you are not having to use glue. Hotfix rhinestones, also referred to as iron on crystals, are also popular among costume designers and dress makers because there is less chance of glue leaking onto the fabric, and once you invest in a hotfix applicator wand it can be used for future projects.

Which material are suitable for hotfix crystals?

If the item you are embellishing is going to be subject to lots of wear and tear including washing, we would not recommend the application of hotfix rhinestones to non porous surfaces i.e. plastic, metals, glass, rubber, vinyl. If you apply your hotfix rhinestones to these types of surfaces you may have the potential issue of them falling off. If you are unsure whether or not your surface is porous, you can carry out an easy test by placing a drop of water on to your chosen surface. If the water soaks in, it's porous and your hotfix rhinestones should adhere to your surface/garment. If the water runs off, your surface it is non porous and not suitable for applying hotfix crystals and you should consider using a glue and non hotfix crystals.
They are most commonly used on fabrics that need to be embellished in bulk, such as theatre costumes, dance dresses, drag/burlesque outfits or fashion wear.

How to apply hotfix rhinestones using an applicator wand:

A hotfix applicator wand is a fantastic tool for picking up and applying hotfix rhinestones to fabric without the need for glue, as the glue is already incorporated into the stone and is activated by the heat.
- When you know which crystal size you are working with, screw the corresponding metal tip into the applicator wand. It is important to do this before turning on the power.
- Turn on the wand, wait for it to heat to temperature and pick up the rhinestone, shiny side facing upwards. You will see the glue on the back of the stone start to bubble after a few seconds – this is how you know it’s hot enough to apply.
- As soon as the bubbling starts, firmly place the rhinestone onto the desired area, press down to ensure the glue has bonded, then pull the wand away – the rhinestone will stay attached to the fabric.

For more information on how to apply hotfix crystals using a hotfix wand, read the Preciosa application guide here, or watch our tutorial on Youtub

How to apply hotfix rhinestones using an iron

If you are doing a one-off project and you’d prefer not to spend money on a hotfix wand, using a household iron is a great at-home way of applying hotfix rhinestones. The drawback of using an iron is that you are limited to surfaces that have to be laid down flat such as clothing or other fabrics – you can’t iron crystals onto something bulky like a shoe or furniture item.

  • Iron on transfers - This is a simple technique which requires a household iron, transfer film and some hotfix rhinestones.
  • Firstly, peel back the sticky plastic of the transfer film, then using a stencil or just by eye, place the rhinestones onto the film shiny side up in your desired pattern.
  • Once complete, place the sticky plastic sheet back over your design to pick up the crystals. Then peel it off altogether and apply over the top of the fabric.
  • Place a tea towel or baking paper over the top of the transfer to protect it from the hot iron.
  • Next, use your iron to gently go over the design – the glue will melt and adhere to the fabric.
  • Peel back the sticky plastic and you’re left with the final image glued onto the fabric.

This is a common technique for making team logos, sportswear, bridal shower gifts or personalized clothing.

• Hotfix rhinestone sheets - A similar iron-on method is the hotfix rhinestone sheets, this is great for applying many crystals in a block so is better for larger surface areas. These sheets are available in many different colours including AB, red, blue, black and hot pink.
- Cut the rhinestone sheet to the desired shape and size.
- Peel away the sticky plastic, revealing the rhinestones, and place on the desired area.
- Using the same method as above, cover the rhinestones with baking paper and iron over the top for a few seconds to melt the glue.

Let’s look at some ways you can use hotfix crystals in your DIY projects

  1. Customize your clothes

By applying rhinestones to your clothing, you instantly give them a unique look – nobody else will own the same item of clothing as you. Try adding hotfix crystals to the collar of a cocktail dress to really make it sparkle. Flared jeans are back on trend, so go back to the 90’s and add some bling to the leg seam of your favourite pair. Or have fun with a leather jacket and heat fix some Jet black rhinestones to the shoulder pads for a steampunk vibe.

2. Bling your dancewear

Are you a dressmaker, costume designer or ballroom & latin dancer? Give yourself some extra shine under the lights by embellishing your dress or waistcoat with Preciosa hotfix crystals. The heat fixing method is ideal for dancewear as it is neat and mess free.

3. Crystallize performance costumes

Similarly, for any performer, crystals are a great addition to the costume or outfit. The sparkle under stage light really captures the audience’s attention. They can be used to enhance costumes for ice skaters, gymnasts, dancers, body builders, music artists and circus performers. Hotfix rhinestones are ideal for embellishing sportswear because they are durable and can move with the flexibility of the stretch fabric. Preciosa show how stunning just a few added hotfix clear rhinestones can elevate this ice skating leotard.

4. Add sparkle to your bridal wear

For many bridal wear designers and couture houses, hotfix crystals are a must have addition to the final piece. Wedding gowns are made of such fine materials that it is important to be neat and clean when applying embellishments, so it is better not to use glue. For wedding veils in particular, we recommend using the Preciosa Transparent or Transmission rhinestones so there is no foil backing to be seen and they should be applied using a hotfix applicator wand. The little touches of sparkle really bring out the detail and delicate nature of the beautiful veil.

5. Make personalized transfers

Transfers are a great way of crystallizing an item of clothing quickly, neatly and in bulk. If you are part of a team and want to have the team name sparkling on your t-shirt, why not make it simple by using a transfer. With Hotfix Transfer Film and Preciosa hotfix rhinestones it is easy to design your own. Or we can do it for you - check out our Bespoke Transfer Service for more details. You can also use them for company/business names, logos, hen party outfits and many other occasions.

Pre-made transfers are also available to purchase if you are struggling to come up with your own design.

6. Jazz up a boring bag

We all own that one plain or boring handbag that is kept at the bottom of our wardrobe, desperate to be taken out. Why not give it a sparkly makeover and a whole new lease of life, like Jane from Crystalled By Jane did. Hotfix shapes are also easy to apply using an iron or the flat tip of a hotfix wand.

7. Greetings cards

It’s really easy to make a simple greetings card look luxurious and expensive. Simply add a few hotfix crystals to the main focal point of the card to make it stand out. Or, design your own card with the rhinestones making up the image itself. We have some great hotfix crystal mixes to give you some inspiration.

Keep up to date with the latest industry news, including new product launches, and blogs written by Crystal Parade customers. We also have a great selection of ultimate guides going into lots of detail about how to use our crystal products, plus some inspirational project ideas and handy tips for beginners.

Rhinestone application