How to Use Flat Back Rhinestones on Apparel

How to Use Flat Back Rhinestones on Apparel

Posted by Rhinestonesu on Feb 23rd 2015

This might sound like a tutorial, but it’s not. Not really. Flat back rhinestones don’t need much instruction. Grab some glue, put a dot down on your project, put your stone on the dot of glue, voila. There are nuances to every project, of course, but the reality is, flat back rhinestones are so easy to use, so versatile for any craft, that there’s no wonder they outsell any other product we carry, 10 to 1. (Ok, I don't really know the ratio, but it's significant.) 

So, what is a flat back? Flat back vs. Pointed back vs. Cushion back A flat back stone is a rhinestone - in crystal, glass or acrylic - that has a faceted, three-dimensional cut on the face and a smooth, flat surface on the back. They are the style you are likely to think of when you picture a rhinestone. Other stone cuts are comparable to jewels. When you picture a diamond silhouette, it may have that 5-sided pentagon form; in rhinestone terms, this pointed back shape is called a chaton. If you think of a treasure chest full of emeralds and rubies, the precious stones may have a three-dimensional front and back, like a pillow; in rhinestone terms, these are often referred to as cushion backs or fancy stones. Both chatons and cushion backs are often set into metal jewelry and sculptural objects. Flat back stones are either glued on or come with an adhesive already on the back that must be melted with heat, like an iron-on patch. 

The glue on these hotfix stones was created especially for clothing, and we’re told there’s no stronger bond to fabric when applied correctly. Tee shirt shops and other apparel manufacturers will use the hotfix stone with a large heat pressing machine. If you’re not creating mass quantities of the same item, or don’t want to invest in an extra tool or two (such as the magical hotfix wand, which is portable and pretty fun), then forgo the hotfix stones and opt for the ever-versatile glue-on flat backs. You may not believe all the ways our customers have used them! Today's topic is: Flat Backs on Apparel

Miss Wisconsin jersey embellished with Swarovski crystal rhinestones, by Christine Murphy Designs Blue dress embellished with Swarovski crystal rhinestones, by Christine Murphy Designs

Flat Backs on Apparel This category is vast, of course, and includes everything from biker chick handkerchiefs to bridal gowns. If you can wear it, you can bling it. Our debutantes adorn their prom dresses, our football fans brighten up their jerseys. Any performer can increase their stage presence with crystals, as their light-play attracts the eye. 

Dance costumes demand a large portion of our performance sales, but figure posers, ice skaters, synchronized swim teams and musicians love to steal the spotlight in a little shine- they love the sparkle of stone sizes 12ss through 30ss. Western wear and show clothing customers are experimenting with different finishes to give a little variety to the arena: flatback pearls, ceramic mosaics and metals. The large crystal shapes they’ve been snatching up for both themselves and their horses are about the size of a fingernail, flashy enough to shine through the dusty atmosphere. 

Fashion couture houses harbor patience, favoring small 2-4mm stones to get an elegant shimmer on delicate fabrics. Many glues on the market are suitable for fabric and embellishment bonds. Some of our favorites at Rhinestones Unlimited include the user-friendly white glue Beacon GemTac and the industrial strength bond-to-nearly-anything E6000. As I mentioned earlier, hotfix stones use an adhesive that was created especially for use in apparel. But, don’t forget, glue is not the only method of attaching your rhinestones. 

Metal settings grip the stone from the front or behind the fabric and add another element of interest to the garment. Vintage dresses will often feature stones set into a tiffany setting, in which the little metal prongs grip the front of the stone like a ring would a diamond. Metal rim settings form a halo around the perimeter, framing the stone against the fabric. This look is often seen in leatherwork, embellished denim and pieces that are exposed to heavy wear. 

You’ll even see crystals in your favorite cuts that feature tiny pre-drilled holes- just the right size for a needle and thread to pass through. These flat backs - fittingly referred to as sew on stones - can often be seen on evening wear. For extra security, these stones can first be glued then sewn on. Very helpful if you’re the fancy kind who parties real hard. 

Find additional ways to use flat backs on apparel by visiting our how-to area on the website, and see the creative ways our products can be used in our Inspirations Gallery



Rhinestones Unlimited blog author Jemm Stone is a multifaceted girl navigating our sparkly world with on-point insights. Visit to follow her thoughts as she highlights design trends, turns the spotlight on industry influencers and breaks down how-to tips like light through a crystal prism.