Step by Step – Rhinestoning Our Recital Shirts

My kids’ dance recital was at the end of May. Since my daughter was wearing her recital shirt in the Opening Number, we decided to rhinestone it. It seems to be a “suggested,” but not required practice. Since I like rhinestoning anyway, I did hers and mine.

My 12 year old really wanted to do her own shirt this year. I’m not ready to have her using the sometimes stringy E-6000 on her own yet. Though Gem-Tac would be much easier for her to use, I wasn’t confident the stones would stay on her shirt through the multiple washings, and wearing it for a longer Opening Number several times in those few days. We compromised by her choosing how she wanted the stones on her shirt, but I glued them on. I thought this would be the perfect time to create a step-by-step visual post on applying rhinestones.

Here’s how we did her shirt:


Last year, it was recommended to me that if you are going to rhinestone something that has been screenprinted (like a recital shirt), you should wash it once before rhinestoning. I was told that you would lose far less stones that way. I forgot to do that this year, and have had to replace a couple of stones. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t wash them first, or if it’s because I was using the remains of an old tube of glue. We still have not had to replace a single stone on either of our shirts from the 2012 recital, and those had a lot more stones on them! Next year, I will be sure to wash the shirts first, just in case that really did make the difference!

Step 1: Lay out the rhinestones


I spread Grace’s shirt out on my desk, along with a pile of black, red, and clear rhinestones. I let her lay them on the shirt however she wanted. I made a critical mistake here – I forgot to put the newspaper in between the layers of the shirt before she laid out the stones. When I tried to slide it in after the fact, rhinestones went flying. If you are going to put something in between the layers to protect the back of the shirt, DON’T forget to do it BEFORE laying out your stones!!

In theory, laying out your stones before gluing them, makes the job easier. I often just eyeball it, but in this case, they were laid out first. Also, it helps to take a picture once you have the stones positioned how you want them. This was a lifesaver after my mistake of not having the “in between” layer in first. Also, if you accidentally bump whatever you are rhinestoning, and aren’t sure of the exact placement you wanted, this can help.

Step 2: Prepare your materials


You don’t want to do this step until you are actually ready to start gluing. The glue starts to dry pretty quickly. You also don’t want to use too much at a time for the same reason. The more time that passes, the stringier it will be.

What isn’t pictured here are the wax sticks I use to put the glue onto the back of the rhinestone. You will want to use two. One for putting the glue on, one for scraping off the excess from the material you are putting the rhinestones on to. Leaving too much glue sticking out from under the rhinestone will accumulate dirt. Even when the glue is dry. I will be writing another post on this in the future. That was a lesson learned the hard way on white lettering on a dance jacket. 😦   Just trust me, you will want to get the extra glue off!

Step 3: Apply glue to stone, and stone to material


Some people prefer to put the glue on the fabric, and attach the rhinestone to it. There are many different ways to accomplish this step. Figure out what works best for you. Putting the glue directly on the rhinestone has been the easiest way for me to control where the glue goes.


Squeeze the rhinestone to the fabric, to get extra glue to come out the sides. Depending on the fabric, you don’t want to squeeze so hard ALL the glue comes out. If you squeeze out too much, there won’t be enough left to adhere them together. Sometimes, it’s good to leave a little “bubble” between the stone and fabric. Just not too much… it’s a fine line, and one you will learn with practice.


Use the end of your second stick to scrape off the extra glue.

Step 4: Let the item dry

Before you let it dry, I would recommend lifting up whatever it is you are rhinestoning, and gently shaking it to make sure all the stones are adhered. Sometimes, you might have missed one, or for some reason, there wasn’t enough glue… you don’t want to pick it up to put it on, and then find out that a stone fell off. Wet glue against the body is cold, and sticky. Grace found that out the hard way last year!

Let it dry by hanging (in a place where it can breathe), or laying it out somewhere. Let it dry for 24-48 hours before wearing or washing.

Enjoy your blinged out, newly sparkled shirt! 🙂


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: A New Method of Rhinestoning | My Life as a Dancem0m

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: