How to embellish eveningwear fabrics with hotfix items

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I have been embellishing fabrics with hotfix sequins; and rhinestones for a while now.  Mainly I use them to embellish delicate fabrics such as silk blend burnout, viscose and acetate satin, which has something of a technique to it; due to the delicate nature of these fabrics.

To embellish fabrics such as these; using a domestic iron is a no-no; the time you need to leave the iron on the fabric; to get a good fix will damage the fabric before the item has even been worn. I use a tool called a bejeweler, and sometimes I also use kandi-kane.  These tools hold the rhinestone and melt the glue so it can be placed and stuck to the fabric instantly. They also usually come with a flat 'hot spot' for applying sequins and larger items such as embroidered patches; although to be honest these larger items (which are better suited to thick fabrics anyway) are better applied with a domestic iron. I find the bejeweler great except for one thing; in that some of the larger sizes of rhinestones (particularly SS16) simply do not fit into any of the tips properly (you can bend the tips but none of them will bend enough) and thus cannot be used; the Bejeweler is designed for official Swarovski stones so perhaps this is why.   I have tried the Kandi-kane with the larger stones and it generally works much better.

Hotfix sequins are a great way to embellish such fabrics; and since they take less heat to adhere well than rhinestones; are a good choice for fabrics that may be easily damaged by excessive heat. With the hotfix sequins you have a number of choices; sheets of sequin type material that can be cut into shapes; individual small sequins usually with centre holes, larger sequin shapes or sequin reels. Personally I prefer the individual small sequins and sequin reels; the sheets tend to be more suited for other purposes and the larger sequin shapes it is hard to get them to adhere fully; and they are not that flexible so are not suitable for fabrics where you want a flowing effect.  The individual sequins I get from 'crystalsRus' on UK ebay and I am extremely pleased with them; the silver and gold flower ones work especially well as they really meld into the fabric. The sequin reels are essentially the individual sequins stuck together in a long line; but they can be cut off and used individually as well. If you are embellishing an item which needs to move freely; ie a dress or something like that; it is better to use them individually; as used in strips they are not flexible enough and will end up coming loose. I have tried sequin reels from UK sellers; but the best value and quality I have found are from a US seller,' threadart' who also sell on but ship worldwide. Their sequins are a lot thinner and flexible as well as sticking extremely well; and are available in 8 colours, in reels of 90 metres.

Although rhinestuds tend to be much cheaper; and give a more edgy and modern look; I don't use them as I have found that the shiny finish can come off them even without washing; and then they just look dull. However I use the cheap, generic rhinestones and for everyday projects they can be just as good as well known brands such as Swarovski.  Again threadart are an excellent seller for these; but their colour range is limited so if you want a wider range of colours and the convenience of shipping from within the UK; then there are many sellers on the UK ebay site who offer great value. I always tend to use the SS10 (2.8-3mm) size; this is the size used on most ready made garments and it just looks more classy; and you don't need to use too many in order to build up a good effect. 

There is one problem with using the rhinestones on fabrics that contain some viscose or acetate; in that the hotfix glue reacts with the fabric and cools into long strands which come away with the tool, while you are placing the rhinestones on the fabric.  I haven't found a solution for this; but placing the stone onto the fabric just before the glue has melted properly; and removing it as quickly as possible helps to an extent. Also I have found certain colours; have more of a problem with this; although I don't know why.  Jet black and hot pink/fuschia seem to be the worst culprits so far. I find generally the aurora borealis stones seem to have less of a problem with this; and stick better to certain fabrics than the plain stones. If you are putting rhinestones on a light-coloured, sheer fabric which you will be able to see the reverse side of the fabric during wear; then you can get stones with a silver-back (as opposed to the norm of greenback; which in reality with the generic stones; is a grey putty colour).  This means they will be less noticeable; however they are odd sized and I haven't tried them with a tool; also I have heard they stick less well so generally greenback is the better choice.
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