For an embellishment project that requires lots of bling and sparkle, a great way of achieving this is by applying sew on stones. Sew on rhinestones have a flat foil backing, just like non hotfix rhinestones, but they also have a hole either side of the stone to enable you to sew them onto your fabric or garment. This ensures extra durability and means you can wash the garment without fear of them falling off.

Using sew on crystals as well as glue on rhinestones brings added texture and depth to your garment and are most commonly used in the fashion and performing arts industry. They are generally larger than glue on rhinestones, so they are ideal for covering a big surface area quickly.The majority of sew on stones have a mirror foiled backing to give them ultimate sparkle. Some of the solid colours, i.e. jet and dorado may not be supplied with a mirrored foiled backing as they are not iridescent, and don’t require the foiled backing to make them sparkle. You may find that sew on stones without a foiled backing are best sewn onto your garment, or if you wish, glue them but for extra security sew them too. We would recommend that when you are sewing your sew on crystals to your garments you use a see through or colour co-ordinated synthetic multifilament thread as they are strong and durable. If you use a monofilament or cotton thread you will find that they do not have the resistance to abrasion caused through movement of the costume and may fray and result in your crystals falling off.

In the performing arts, dance and theatrical world, one of the first things audiences are drawn to is the costumes. Before the performance has even started, the crowd are already making their first impression based on the look alone. So, it is very importance to make that great first impression with an unforgettable costume. Here are some ways to use sew on stones:

Irish Dance

If you’re a dancer, competitor, judge, teacher, dressmaker or dance Mum, you will know the significance of making a competition dress stand out. The dance is not only judged on the routine, but also the design of the Irish dance dress - the more eye catching the better. So, bring on the sparkle! Sew on stones are very popular for Irish dance dresses, waistcoats and headpieces, in particular sew on peardrops and round Rivoli sew on stones. These shapes tie in with the Celtic feel and come in a huge range of colours so work well with any colour scheme.

Image credit: Rising Star Designs

Ballroom & Latin Dance

Like in Irish dancing, the sparkle of a ball gown or other dance dress is what first draws the eye of the audience. For classic ball gowns, sew on stones are added to the collar, waist, sleeves or hem to enhance these areas, and again, colours that match the fabric are a popular choice.

Burlesque & Drag outfits

The number of burlesque and drag artists has significantly increased over recent years, and the costumes are getting wilder and more outrageous – in a good way! Rhinestone sparkle is an absolute must have for any of these outfits, with every type of sew on stone adorning the stage and sparkling under the lights. Read more about crystals for burlesque here.

Image credit: Primp My Costume


Whether you’re in costume design, prop making or set design, rhinestone embellishments tend to feature heavily on the theatrical stage, particularly in musical theatre. Here Preciosa have shown how they used sew on squares and triangles to bring this Snow Queen’s tiara to life. The multi-faceted stones reflect the stage lights and flash across the audience with every movement.


Sew on stones can be used subtly, it doesn’t always have to be all about the bling. A hint of sparkle on the neckline or sleeve can be just as effective and bring an outfit to life. Unlike the Irish dance dressmakers, fashion designers tend to go with geometrical shapes such as square, triangle, diamond etc. These shapes work well together and has been a big trend on the catwalks recently.

Which colour sew on stones should I use?

With the Zodiac crystal brand having so many more colours to choose from than either Preciosa or Swarovski, you really are spoilt for choice. All the colours perfectly match the flatback rhinestone range so can be used with confidence in your designs. Choose from the popular Clear and AB sew on stones, or go bold with a neon, metallic, two-tone or shimmer effect stone.

AB - By far, the most popular colour in the performing arts world is AB, also known as Aurora Borealis. This stunning iridescent stone reflects the light in a rainbow of colours, so looks fabulous under the stage lights. The AB rhinestones work well with any other colour and goes on any background too, so they are a must-have in your embellishing kit! Every sew on crystal shape is available in AB.

Standard Colour – Standard colours make up the majority of the range, these are crystals that are just one colour throughout and have no effect or coating over the top. If you’re looking for a simple block colour in a variety of shades, go for one of these. Examples of standard colours are Light Siam (red), Fuchsia (pink), Citrine (yellow), Sapphire (blue) and Peridot (green). These are great for adding a splash of colour to your project and are used predominantly in costume making, Irish dance dresses and general craft projects. You can choose between bright bold shades, pastel vintage style shades or neutral tones – they really do spoil us for choice!

Neon Colour – Neon sew on stones are as bright and bold as the name suggests and some even glow in the dark! Neon crystals are perfect for creating eye catching designs within Irish dance, costume and jewellery making. A timeless trend for the summer and festival season is to crystallise your festival accessories with neon rhinestones and embellishments.

Metallic Coating – Metallic coatings such as metallic sunshine, aurum (bright gold) and jet hematite are really on trend at the moment, the solid metallic finish has a different kind of effect – it shines with bright flashes of light, rather than a twinkle like the standard colours. They are great for steampunk, rocky or edgy designs.

Two-tone Effect - are just that – two (or sometimes three) tones of colour coming through. For example, Zodiac Astral Pink shines pink, orange and gold. Two-tone, sometimes referred to as multi-tone, crystals have the magical quality of appearing to change colour at certain angles. So with movement comes the effect of lots of different colours. These work well for dancewear, fashion and basically anything that moves!

Which sew on shapes should I choose?

When it comes to the different shapes on offer, the crystal peardrop, also known as teardrop or pearshape, is the most popular by far. The elegant shape is so classic for Irish dance and fits perfectly into the Celtic design. Sew on pears are also popular for ballroom dance, many of the dress designers use them to decorate the swirl motifs or embellish the collar.

There are so many to chose from, here is a handy guide to crystal shapes:

Geometric – If you want to create a geometric or art deco inspired design you will want to use straight edged shapes such as Square, Cosmic, or Emerald Cut. These work really well together as they offer symmetry and a perfect neat finish.

Floral/Natural – Shapes with a curved edge such as Rivoli, Oval, Peardrop, Trilliant or Navette are great for creating natural, floral or art nouveau style design. You can apply these shapes together in one design to create an entirely new image, or use individually for a more subtle look.

Rhinestone application