Finding the perfect rhinestone for your project can be a thrilling challenge. Selecting the right glue might not seem as exciting at first, but trust me, it can make or break your project. Today, we’ll talk you through rhinestone glue basics, and you’ll learn how to pick the right one for your next creation.
Rhinestone Glue Terms to Know
Understanding the industry terms is the first step to understanding the product, so read on, ye fellow word lovers, for new vocabulary:
Viscosity: The glue’s flow, or consistency, or in more technical terms, the internal friction of a moving fluid. Easy flowing fluids have a low viscosity, as the molecules create little friction when moving (ex: water, super glue, school glue). High viscosity fluids are denser and slower-moving, the molecules creating a high amount of friction (ex: honey, sap, paste). Often, the denser the adhesive, the shorter the Open Assembly Time.
Open Assembly Time: The time it takes for the glue to begin to set, starting from when you spread the glue on the project and join the pieces to when it starts to harden. Generally, a short open assembly time will be sufficient with rhinestone work. You only need as much time as it takes to pick up a stone and plop it in place. (Alternately, a long open-assembly time would be useful if you were, say, building a crib with a lot of parts to line up.)
Cure Time: Dry time, or, more definitively, the amount of time it takes for the glue to form its maximum bond. Between adhesives, this can vary drastically, from hours to full days to a week or more. We know you’re busy, and your glue needs to be at your level. That’s why the adhesives we stock are functioning within hours, reaching their full cure time (ready to wash) within 2 days, tops.
Shelf Life: The amount of time a product remains usable. We offer different sizes with shorter shelf lives, so you don’t have to worry about waste.
General Glue Warning: You’ll find that glues of all kinds are very scented. Ingredients in the adhesives can cause harmful fumes, so don’t ignore label warnings, open the window, and use in moderation. For both olfactory comfort and safety, our rhinestone glues should be used in plenty of fresh air.
What Kind of Glue Do You Use for Rhinestones?
The glue depends on the project. There are many options out there specializing in any combination of Surface A to Surface B bonds, and frankly, it’s overwhelming. Thankfully, Rhinestones Unlimited is here for you: we’ve chosen the best of the best already. Here’s a general breakdown between the two main categories we sell:
- White glues dry clear and have an easy-flow consistency comparable to dish soap. They are all permanent, non-toxic, and washable (finished projects can be laundered in water by hand washing).
- Specialty adhesives are permanent, flexible, and washable multi-purpose glues. These clear glues have a slightly thicker consistency when compared to white alternatives.
Now, let’s dive in even further!
Rhinestones Unlimited White Glues
Our most popular white glue, Beacon Gem-Tac, was created especially for embellishments: “Bonds rhinestones, crystals, sequins and more to fabrics and accessories.” How befitting!
This is a user-friendly glue compared to the E-6000, with a lighter consistency (low viscosity) applied straight from the bottle. The formula is designed to bond to the top fibers of the (washed) fabric without being pushed into the weave. This prevents stiffening of the material you have likely seen on other hand-embellished garments.
How to Use: Because of the adhesive’s open assembly time, we suggest your project is laid on a flat work surface to prevent the embellishments from sliding before the glue has a chance to set.
API’s Crafter's Pick Jewel Bond was requested by a number of our customers specializing in Western wear because it’s:
- Easy to control
- Made stronger under the sunlight (a definite plus when you are in an outdoor arena or your show jacket sits in that sweltering horse trailer for hours)
Plus, it has a longer open assembly time, especially when compared to E6000
Like almost all “white glues,” the consistency is comparable to a school glue: very manageable to work with straight from the bottle. This easy flow characteristic- otherwise known as low viscosity- generally means that the adhesive will take a bit longer to get tacky.
How to Use: Work on a flat, horizontal surface and allow a bit of extra time before re-positioning your project. This will prevent the embellishments from sliding around before the glue has a chance to set.
A tried and trusted fabric glue, Aleene’s Flexible Stretchable is formulated to move with the give of stretch-and-recover fabrics.
This rhinestone glue is excellent for:
- Really anything from the ’80s except swimsuits.
How to Use: The manufacturers suggest pushing the embellishment into the glue so that the glue comes up around the edges (and through the middle, if there’s a middle) to form a glue “setting.”
Warning: Though Flexible Stretchable is appreciated by many, it has a longer cure time. Allow yourself extra time for the glue to come to its full strength, or choose an alternative that cures quicker, such as Gem-Tac.
Another lovely glue created for the embellishment world, Aleene’s Jewel It, works wonders adhering sequins and stones to fabric, glass, and even metals.
Just like Flexible Stretchable, you’ll want to form a “setting” around the stone by pushing it into the glue, allowing the adhesive to surround the edges of the crystal.
How to Use: You’ll create a stronger bond between A and B when both pieces have adhesive on them before joining. For the non-porous surfaces, apply the glue to both pieces and let it sit for about 10 minutes before attaching the embellishment.
For larger projects (or impatient crystallizers), Gem-Tac or E6000 may be a more satisfying option.
A Special Note on White Glues
Do not allow these formulas to freeze. As a customer and friend pointed out, "Bonds made with adhesive that has been frozen (for example, shipped in January) are much less permanent and somewhat brittle. I always order my cases of Gem-Tac in the spring and fall." Excellent advice, Marsha!
Rhinestones Unlimited Specialty Adhesives
Our best-selling glue. This guy is intense will get the job done. E6000 is a construction adhesive and sealant that won the respect of crafters.
- Its bond to non-porous surfaces such as glass, metals, rubber, and plastic is resolute.
- Flexibility when dry makes it an excellent adhesive for dance and swim costumes.
- E6000 is the glue of choice for leatherwork. (Leatherworkers, take heed: no glue will stick to the leather unless the leather’s surface has been scored or the finishing coating dissolved to create a surface for the product to adhere to.)
How to Use: Because E6000 is thick and a little goopy (think chilled honey- higher viscosity), it requires focus. Use it in conjunction with our syringes for control and precision placement.
One of the reasons we love E6000 is the dense adhesive’s short but easy open assembly time (the time it takes to set once you squeeze it out of the tube.) You don’t have to be on edge about speed. You can lay down some dots over a small area of your project, apply several stones at a comfortable pace and then- and this is the great part- move your piece around to stone a different area in a matter of minutes.
If you’re embellishing a costume, work that key area in front, take a step back to admire your work, flip it over (carefully, though) to do that key area in the back, then return to the front with your remaining stones, to scatter them over the open spaces. With a short open assembly time, the piece can be handled after less time than it would take if working with a white glue, which has a thinner consistency and takes longer to set.
E6000 is a great option when you are working vertically, especially if you tend to embellish a costume on a form or are adding crystals to a 3-dimensional fine art piece,
Scent Warning: Some folks are sensitive to the fumes of this industrial-strength worker. Heed that all-important ventilation warning.
This adhesive is made specifically for bonding directly to fabrics. Like Gem-Tac, Fabri-Tac’s thoughtful formula is designed to bond to the top fibers of the (washed) fabric without being pushed into the weave, which would cause the material to stiffen. The viscosity is relatively low, and the clear formula is easy to work with straight from the bottle.
How to Use: Both the open assembly time and cure time are short, which means your stonework can be secure in a hurry if you need to pack up your costume and head out the door in an hour.
Hold up. Don’t think this means we recommend that move. We do not recommend that move! But hey, things happen. This is the glue I keep in my sewing room for almost anything, and it makes a great addition to your "emergency stage kit."
Supertite Fabric Tack Fabric & Multi-Purpose Glue - an industrial-strength textile adhesive that dries transparent and is washable and permanent.
Best Used To: Bond fabrics, textiles, synthetic materials, leather, and embellishment projects.
How to Use: Apply to one surface, press two materials together for 30 seconds. Allow one hour to dry. Better bond after 24 hour drying period.
Supertite Fusion Tack Multi-Purpose Glue - an industrial-strength textile adhesive that dries transparent and is washable and permanent.
Best Used To: Bond glass, crystal, metal, plastics, wood, fabrics, textiles, synthetic materials, leather, and embellishment projects.
How to Use: Apply to one surface, press the two materials together and allow 1 hour-12 hours for dry time.
Supertite MultiGrab 360: a new do-it-all industrial contact cement that gives you unlimited adhesive bonding solutions for home repair and crafting. Strong, flexible, permanent, and waterproof.
Best Used To: Bond metal, glass, ceramic, stone, plastics, textiles, wood, paper, crystals, and select foam building and craft blocks.
How to Use: Apply to each surface, wait two minutes, press surfaces together and hold for 30 seconds. Allow 24 hours for cure time.
Supertite Ninja Flex Professional Grade 2-part Instant Adhesive: a gel-curing instant elastic 2-part adhesive.
Best Used To: Bond rubber, metals, crystal/glass, plastics, leather, wood, seams, and gap filling. Ideal for making or repairing parts that move relative to each other or need significant flex. No-Odor, Non-Irritant, and Non-Staining adhesive that is foam safe.
How to Use: Working time is 1 minute or less with a 5 minute cure time. Once the bond has cured, it becomes flexible and elastic with over 200x the flex. Allow 24 hours for full cure.
How to Use: Apply to one material, press two surfaces together for 2-10 seconds. Best results after drying for 24 hours.
What Glue is Best for Rhinestones on Fabric?
There are many types of glue on the market that work very well to glue your rhinestones to fabric. It’s all about finding the one best suited to your fabric type:
- E6000 works well for tricky materials like leather, suede, velvet, and vinyl.
- Some adhesives, like Flexible Stretchable, were created specifically to stretch with the fabric.
- Modern glues with a lighter viscosity, including Gem-Tac or E6000 Fabri-Fuse, are easy to apply straight from the bottle and are suitable for almost any fabric, stretch and non-stretch alike.
Protect your work surface from glue that may seep through the fabric. If your material is sheer or thin, slip a barrier between layers of fabric.
Glue Tips & Tricks
- Remember to do a test area first before delving into the whole.
- Wash fabrics first to remove what is confusingly called the “sizing” (this is the starchy coating on the yarns used to strengthen them for the weaving process).
- Allow plenty of time for the glues to cure before handling.
- Always use care when washing.
Rhinestones 101: Plan Your Project!
Well, there you have it - you’re officially ready for your next project. You can shop our glues here. Until next time, best of luck, and we’ll talk to you soon!
Thank you for following along on today’s lesson! We know that choosing the right glue for your project is only one of the many decisions you need to make while planning your design. Check out our Rhinestones 101 Series, PLAN YOUR PROJECT for help:
1) Choosing a brand & quality of crystal.
2) Deciding what rhinestone size you want.
3) Learning what attachment method is best for your project.
4) Selecting your rhinestone colors.
5) Estimating how many you need to order.
6) Determining which rhinestone glue will work best for you.
PS Keep an eye on our blog for the latest RU updates, design trends, advice, and news!