Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sewing review: rhinestone setters

Embellishing skating outfits with rhinestone crystals is blessedly simple. In fact, I have Ice Girl, 12, embellish all her outfits using a heat-set tool and hot-fix crystals. She uses a common table knife as a spacer between crystals and draws lines on the garment with chalk. It works very well.

If you're going to spend time putting rhinestones on your figure skater's outfit, you're going to need a heat-set tool or a needle, thread, and more patience than I have. A plain ol' iron will work in theory, and in fact, is my choice for embellishing sturdy fabrics. However, most skating outfits are made of delicate, heat sensitive fabrics. They can't take the abuse of a big iron. Worse, they may carry the imprint of your iron plate forever (don't, don't, don't use an iron on anything with a nappe, like velvet).

The heat setter on the far left is called a Bejeweler hotfix crystal tool. It's the one I have and the one I recommend. I bought mine at a local craft store for almost $20, no crystals included. I recommend this one because the many tips allow you to pick up the little crystals from a ceramic dinner plate and melt the glue. Then, it's just a matter of touching the crystal to the skating outfit to affix the crystal. You don't have to worry about burning the material at all and you don't have to place crystals on the outfit with a tweezers (not fun at 2 a.m.). Each tip is split with a tiny channel running down the center of the tip. This is fabulous if the tip gets a bit gummy from the melted glue and won't release the crystal. Just take a straight pin, slide it in the crack, and push the crystal out of the tool from behind. The tool comes with several tips, each one matching the different crystal sizes, so you don't have to worry about not being able to pick up the little buggers.

The Bedazzler is the blue machine, second from the left. If you go to the Bedazzler website, you can spend tons of money without even realizing it, trust me. The Bedazzler works on a traditional rhinestone scheme. There's a metal setting that is on the reverse side of the garment and a dazzling jewel on the front. Snap the two together and you've set a rhinestone in the garment like your jeweler would set a stone in a ring. It's a great theory, however, with the delicate fabrics used in skating outfits, this one isn't my choice. The upside is that you can get tons of crystals on the cheap. The downside is that you're poking holes all over a flimsy garment. These puppies will tear through a skating outfit because they're more for denim than frilly lycra.

The heat setter on the right, by Tulip, is one I purchased and then returned to the store. Orginally it cost me something like $12. The main problem with the heat setter is that the stupid thing didn't heat up at all. I'm sure that it was defective. That's a great reason for returning an item, but I didn't exchange it for another model. The tip of the heat setter doesn't grab the crystals. You have to manually place the crystals on the garment (usually with a tweezer) and then heat-set them. It's also tough to tell when the glue on the back of the crystals has melted. Overall, not a fabulous design.

The last photo is the mini embellishment iron, also from Tulip. I think it costs about the same as the heat setter, but it's in a different shape. I didn't even buy this one. I seriously do not want the imprint of an iron plate, even a mini iron plate, on my $19.99/yard stretch velvet. Again, with these delicate, flimsy, nappy fabrics, you want as little heat contact with the garment as possible. The mini iron isn't even in the running.

Bottom line: Spend the extra $5 or so for the Bejeweler hotfix tool. It works (always a plus), won't damage the dress, and it picks up the crystals on its own.

Now. If you can tell me where I can find those hotfix crystals cheap, cheap, cheap, I'm all ears. All I can find is pricey, pricey, pricey.

1 comment:

Guerrelyn Gautreau Sk8r Girl said...

Great post. I have done some of my dresses. Thanks