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How to Apply Hotfix Crystals

How to use a hotfix applicator

What are Swarovski Hot Fix Crystals

Swarovski hotfix crystals or hot fix rhinestones as they are sometimes called are loose crystal components with a multi faceted face one side and a flat surface coated with a heat sensitive glue on the other. The faceted face is made from lead crystal glass that has been machine cut and the polished to produce a high quality finish. Hotfix glue will take approximately 20 seconds to heat and bond with a surface, but to fully harden will take 24 hours. Once the adhesive is set it is machine washable but not recommended for dry cleaning as some of the chemicals used can denature the glue, which may cause it to discolour and become brittle or dissolve.

Swarovski Hotfix Crystal Structure

Hotfix Rhinestone Structure
1. Crystal: Lead Glass Crystal

2. M-Foiling: Specially developed reflective coating to enhance the crystals brilliance and provide a strong bond with the primer.

3. Primer: The coloured primes strengthens the bond between the foil and the hot-fix glue.

4. Hotfix glue: A transparent glue especially developed by Swarovski to provide a strong bond with various materials.

What Materials Can You Apply Hotfix Crystals To

To provide a successful strong bond a material needs to be able to absorb the adhesive when it’s melted. Materials such as Paper, Card, Wool-Trevira, Cotton, Linen, Wool, Viscose, Tulle, Denim, Lycra, Cotton Jersey, Silk, Synthetics (polyester etc), Technical Fabrics and Artificial Fur are all suitable to apply hot fix crystals to. Less absorbent materials such as glass, plastic, smooth leather and fabrics with a waxy surface wouldn’t be suitable for absorbing the hotfix glue.

A simple test to find out if a material is absorbent would be the water drop test; if the water runs of the surface and isn’t absorbed into the material  it will be unsuitable for use with hot fix crystals. If the material in question contains a large quantity of softening agent it may need to be washed before applying any crystals.

How to apply hotfix crystals with an applicator

Preparation

i. You will need a firm surface to work on such as a table top or work surface; ironing boards aren’t suitable as they don’t provide enough support.

ii. If adding crystals to fabric make sure that the materials surface is flat, iron if necessary.

iii. When adding crystals to sheer fabric its best to place a piece of card or a Teflon sheet between the layers to prevent the glue from seeping through and bonding any fabric layers together.

iv. You will also need a pair of fine tipped tweezers.

v. If it’s your first time using a hotfix applicator its a good idea to first test on a piece of card or scrap material.

Hotfix Applicator Tips

1. Choose the correct size applicator tip for the rhinestone size you will be working with, the sizes are etched into the side of a tip. If you are unsure as to the size required place the tip over the rhinestone, the correct size tip will pick up the rhinestone.
Choose Hotfix Applicator Tips

2. The applicator tip fits on the end of the hotfix applicator, gently screw the correct size applicator tip into place.

SAFETY: Make sure the hotfix applicator is unplugged and if you are removing a tip it has already had plenty of time to cool down.

Screw on correct applicator tip
3. Turn on the hotfix applicator,  Kandi Professional hotfix applicator has an on/off switch at the rear. Other applicator wands will only need plugging in as there is no on/off switch. (Kandi’s hotfix applicator will take approximately 2-3 minutes to reach working temperature) Lay the applicator on the work surface with the tip pointing away from your working area so that you do not burn your hand as it heats.

Hotfix Rhinestones

4. Place your hotfix crystals onto a clean flat, solid surface. (placing them onto a piece of white card can be helpful if you are working on a dark surface)

Hotfix Crystals

5. Turn all the crystals so that they are facing faceted side up.

Applying the crystals

Pickup rhinestone Hotfix Applicator Tips

6. Once the tip has heated your ready to start creating the design, gently place the tip over a rhinestone to pick it up, but don’t press hard or the crystal may stick to the surface.

Crystal in Applicator Tip
7. Once selected the hotfix crystal will sit perfectly within the tip.

hotfix glue melting
8. Watch the crystal it will start to look wet and shiny and may bubble when the glue melts, this is important to ensure that the adhesive is given the correct timing. Small crystals will take less time for the glue to melt than larger ones, an ss12 will only take around 8 seconds where as an ss16, 4mm crystal will take approximately 10 – 12 seconds. Allowing the adhesive to melt before placing the crystal onto the fabric will also help to prevent burning from prolonged heat of the tip coming into contact with the fabric.

Attaching hotfix crystal

9. Once the glue melts the crystal is ready to apply to the fabric. Lightly press the crystal onto the fabric holding the wand at 90° to the surface to ensure that the crystal bonds correctly. It’s a good idea to support the fabric so that it doesn’t lift when you pull the hotfix applicator away, if the crystal gets stuck in the tip use the tip of a pair of tweezers and push downwards through the slit in the tip to free the crystal.
Apply the first crystal

10. When the crystal comes out of the tip the adhesive is very hot, so give the crystal a few seconds to cool then gently pull on the crystal to see if the glue has bonded to the surface correctly. If the crystal is still loose place the tip over the crystal for a few seconds to melt the glue and then test again once the adhesive has cooled to ensure that the crystal is firmly bonded to the fabric..

Completed Hotfix rhinestone design
11. Complete the process of adding crystals and testing until your design is complete. It will take 24 hours before the adhesive is fully set the crystallized fabric should not be washed within this time.

Author: Crystal and Glass Beads

39 comments

  1. Man, I reckon I would have to practice that on some scrap rags or something before attempting it for real. I have to admit I was holding my breath there for awhile as I read your post ;)

  2. If the crystals fall off whilst garment is used can they be fixed on again? How can I make sure they are really on hard??

    • Hi Georgina
      Yes crystals will come loose and fall off over time especially if the garment is machine washed or tumble dried, but they are easily replaced, with the Hotfix its important to make sure that the glue melts before placing the crystal on the fabric, you can ensure this happens by watching the backing which will change appearance slightly as it starts to melt then press onto the material.

  3. can i hotfix on to silver?

    • Hi Evie
      No hotfix is for fabrics, paper and card and wouldnt be suitable, for silver you would use a suitable adhesive or jewellery cement.

  4. I am wondering if the glue on the back will turn white bridal fabric yellow around he area its been applied. I am thinking about using this wand as my main tool for embellishing bridal, pageant and ball room dresses. Will the glue backing wear off eventually and crystals fall off?

    • Hi Dana
      The adhesive on hotfix shouldn’t turn fabric yellow as its specifically designed to be used for fabric. If done correctly the crystals should be quite hard wearing, the problem comes when the dress is dry cleaned (these dresses are usually dry cean only) the chemicals used will denature the glue, which is why most crystal garments carry the warning hand wash only.

  5. I have a hot fix wand but when its heated up it wont pick up the crystals. do you know why this might be?

    • Hi Sammy
      This can be for a number of reasons. The tip may be more suited to a particular brand of crystals, each crystal brand has a different cut along with the number of facets and table height (some are less compatible). It could be that the tip needs cleaning if glue has melted in the tip cup or the size tip being used may not correspond with the crystals size. It’s a pain but to use the crystals and tip combination you have try using a tweezers tip to pick up the crystal in the hotfix tip.

  6. Can you use these for nails? If not which type can I use?

  7. Do you ever use hotfix for decorating shoes?

    • Hi Heather it would very much depend on what the shoes are made from if its for the side of converse i.e. the canvas part then hotfix will work well along with using on other fabric shoes, but it wont work on plastic, leather or rubber as the hotfix adhesive isn’t designed to bond to these.

  8. Hi

    I recently purchased the hot fix applocator wand and I find that the gems I have are pretty much melting.
    Is there a specific type of gem that should be used? Maybe a silly question but must it be made from glass?

    • Hi Naz
      If you are using acrylic crystals the glue melting point is around 120°C and the acrylic melting point is 160°C, so its likely that you are applying heat for too long. With crystal or glass flatbacks you don’t get this problem, so in answer to your question either apply less heat or if this doesn’t work opt for a more expensive hotfix make.

  9. Can I use got fix on lace ?

    • Hi Natalie
      You can use hotfix or gemtac glue for applying crystals to lace, washing the lace first will remove any chemicals from the fabric prior to adding crystals.

  10. Hiya, I am hoping to start blinging up some of my mobility aids such as my crutches. What should I use instead of hotfix as I know that is for absorbent materials. I would really appreciate any advice you could give :)

    • Hi Sophie
      You will need non hotfix foil backed crystals which you can find here and a suitable adhesive. E6000 (has nasty fumes so will need to use in a well ventilated area or use a protective mask) would probably be the strongest and then gemtac glue both of which are flexible once dry which helps if the crystals may take some impact. If you are crystallizing plastic giving it a gentle rub down to lightly scuff the surface will provide a stronger bond between the adhesive and plastic surface. The other option if you don’t find these adhesives strong enough is to use a slow drying araldite which is a 2 part epoxy resin which dries solid once cured (slight flexibility if bent) and is very hard wearing. For picking up the crystals there are a number of tools you can use the cheapest being the jewel setter which is great for ss12 and above for a smaller crystal size either the magic pick mini or the crystal katana would be more suitable. The jewel setter does leave some wax residue on the crystals but this buffs off easily once the glue is set. We have a pdf which you can print out to show all the crystal sizes if you are unsure which you can find here along with a guide to using non hotfix flatback crystals here.

      If you are still unsure of anything just give us a call on 01792 524 956 and I will be happy to help.

      Khaled

  11. Is it possible to use hotfix rhinestones on polyester crepe fabrics? I want to add some decoration to an abaya. Please let me know if you or anyone you know has done this before. :) Shukran

    • Hi Amanda
      Hotfix crystals are fine for polyester but in not sure if the crepe fabric will be any different. A good test to tell if a fabric is suitable for hotfix is to put a few drop of water on the fabric surface, if the water absorbs into the fabric its suitable for hotfix, if the water rolls off or takes a long time to seep into the material then it will have insufficient absorbency for the hotfix adhesive to give a good bond. It would then be better to use non hotfix with s suitable adhesive (gemtac or e6000).
      Hope that helps.

  12. hello- we are trying to hotfix crystals to a very sheer soft tulle…….. i am trying so hard to find out if i have to STRETCH the georgette tulle fabric of our dance top whilst we are gluing the stones on? ie we have it over the end of an ironing board to match a similar size to my daughter…
    AND are we better to use glue or the hotfix tool gun? ( we thought this may melt the fabric?) – HELP please!!!

    • Hi Maree
      I would lay out flat but not stretch too much or the design will crease when it contracts and become distorted. Hotfix crystals shouldn’t damage the fabric as they are designed to be used on materials such as Paper, Card, Wool-Trevira, Cotton, Linen, Wool, Viscose, Tulle, Denim, Lycra, Cotton Jersey, Silk, Synthetics (polyester etc). If you are going to use hotfix watch the glue soften on the crystal whilst it’s in the tools tip and then press onto the fabric, this shortens the contact time between the tip and fabric if you are worried about burning. If you aren’t comfortable using hotfix crystals you can opt for non hotfix and e6000 (make sure you press the crystals into the glue to get a good strong bond).

  13. can hotfix be used on Swimwear material?
    such as elastane, polyester, spandex, lycra

  14. Hi
    I’ve created some transfers with hotfix crystals what is the best way of fixing these to clothing?

  15. What is the best way to attach rhinestone to dog collars. Needs to be durable so they don’t fall off and get eaten! Thanks

    • Hi Laura
      Generally professionally produced dog collars will use either Swarovski rivets or rose pins so that there is no requirement for glue. For the rose pins you require the pins, a hand press/tool and a specific tip for the pin size. To use rivets which come in 2 parts, you need a punch to create holes through the leather, a hand rivet gun, a specific tip for the Swarovski rivet shape/size and of course the rivets themselves. Either method requires costly equipment initially which is fine for a business producing volumes of dog collars but not for a one off project. All of the adhesives I have tested on leather won’t last long term unfortunately.

  16. How do I clean the different sized tips for the hotfix wand? They are coated with glue.

  17. I am also having the issue that the hot-fix tool will not pick up the crystals, Even when I place them in it with tweezers, if I turn it to put it on garment, it falls out?

    • Hi Helen
      It will just be a case of the prongs are a little far apart. Heat up the tip so that it’s expanded then try picking up the crystal. If the gap for the crystal is too big then gently with pliers gently press the ends together (very gently or you will close up the tip too much and make sure you don’t touch the end with your fingers or you will burn them) try picking up the crystal now and if you have closed sufficiently which should be a tinny amount the tip will now pick up the crystal and hold it. If you press too much with the pliers you will close the tip too much or snap the prongs so verrrrry gentle. Before doing any of this make sure that the crystals and tool are compatible.

      Khaled

  18. Can hotfix be used on mdf?

    • Hi Vicky No hotfix cant be used on MDF you will need non hotfix and a suitable adhesive, hotfix are generally used for fabrics, paper and card.

  19. Is there anything u can use to makesure your stones will stay on? I somethimes us the hotfix aplicator and sometimes I use glue E8000

    • Hi If it’s a rigid surface you are crystallizing there is a product you can use on top of the crystals (can’t remember the name though sorry) but it does decrease the crystals sparkle, the same as if you apply a top coat over nail crystals it diminishes the effect.

  20. Alyna Harbinson

    sorry to be a pain, but could you glue hotfix rhinestones with e6000 to stop the foil from coming off? as you would be essentially gluing the glue ?

    • Yes you can use e6000 with Swarovski hotfix crystals, I wouldn’t recommend as your bonding glue to glue and the cost of hotfix is greater than non-hotfix. However I have used a number of times and never had any problems. If on the other hand you are using acrylic crystals the e6000 will eat the crystal backing and cloud the crystals.

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