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How to Make Your Own Rhinestone Transfers

Rhinestone TransferAre you tired of spending a lot of money to buy ready-made rhinestone transfer? Do you dream of starting a rhinestone t-shirt business? You can not only save a lot of money by making your own transfers, but additionally you can also sell rhinestone transfers for profit to crafters. If you have been curious to learn how these sparkly templates are made then this article is for you. The following is a high-level overview of the items you will need to get started.

Equipment You Will Need:

  • Digital Cutter
  • Template Material
  • Transfer Tape
  • Design Software
  • Rhinestone


Digital Cutters

Silhouette Cameo

A digital cutter is a device that connects to your computer via the USB drive and communicates with a software you install to cut out the design you program into it. Template material is pressed into a sticky mat which is loaded into the cutter. Using a very small blade, the cutter guided by your computer will cut out an exact replica of your design being communicated to it.

Two of the most popular brands of digital cutters include the Silhouette Cameo and the Cricut Explore. Both of these cutters are portable and light as well as easy to use. Both machines have different features that you will want to research before making a decision on which to purchase, however they both do the main job of cutting rhinestone templates comparably the same.

Cricut Explore Air

Both the Silhouette and the Cricut hover in the $250 price range.

Industrial rhinestone cutting machines have features beyond these consumer models. Some actually set the rhinestone into the template, and some don’t need to cut a template because the machine will actually place the rhinestone design directly into the transfer tape. These high end machines will cost you a pretty penny and are best for businesses prepared for mass production.

Template Material

Sticky Flock

There are two main types of template material that are popular among rhinestone designers, the most popular (as well as the most expensive) is Sticky Flock. This material boasts that you don’t need a backer board and makes the job of sliding your rhinestones into the holes much faster. It has the highest cost in the market with a closely competing contender by SGS orange template material which does require the use of a backer board but at a fraction of the cost of the Sticky Flock.

Orange Template Material

Other rhinestone template material is available including Wonder Flock and Silhouette Rhinestone Starter Kit. I have not personally tried these brands however there are articles available by other crafters detailing their experience so you might want to try plugging these brand names inĀ  Google and see if they are worth testing for yourself.

Transfer Tape

In order to lift the rhinestones from the templates and transfer them to your t-shirt or other garment you will need transfer tape. This is a two part system with a white backing sheet with an overlaying clear and slightly tacky sheet on top of it. You will lift the clear sheet away from the white backing sheet and lay it across the rhinestones once you’ve deposited them into the holes in your template. Then you can lift away your rhinestone design and either press it immediately to your garment, or re-stick it back to the white backing paper for storage or resale.


There are different choices available for designing your template, each having a different level of both complexity of use as well as detail of the output. For designers who are versed with Adobe Illustrator, a recommended plug-in is rStones which will allow for very detailed designs with many colors and sizes of stones. Adobe Illustrator has a considerable learning curve, so it might take a novice designer some time to be able to use not just the plug-in but the software itself

Silhouette has the ability to do some rhinestone designing, however it is very limited as compared to what you can do in rStones. My personal recommendation is to purchase the rStones, however I have to admit I haven’t tried every software out there so it might be worth it to you to look around some more and see if there is something more suited to you. Some other brands you might want to research include StoneCut Pro, CorelDraw for Rhinestone Designs, Sierra Hotfix Era & GemMaster.

Shopping for Rhinestones

Plastic Rhinestones

When it comes to rhinestones you have a choices in the quality and color. Of course the more sparkly the rhinestone, the more the cost. Rhinestones come in different shapes, are made of different materials, and also have a different amount of facets depending on the quality.

Plastic Rhinestone are the lowest quality rhinestones you can buy. They don’t sparkle much if at all, and are typically used on lower quality clothing. If you have a lower budget these are great, however you might not be happy with their look.

Crystal rhinestone are also available and their quality is based on the amount of lead in them as well as the amount of facets. The most popular brand Swarovski has a high lead content and are the most faceted rhinestones. This brands is also the most expensive brand, you can easily spend $20 or more dollars on a simple design. You can also find competitive Asian crystals that have less facets but that are near the same amount of sparkle.

Swarovski Sparkle!

One of the best resources for rhinestones is in the fashion district in Los Angeles California. Forget spending a lot of money at the hobby and fabric chain stores because you can get rhinestones from dealers directly (even without being a business or wholesale customer) for half the cost when you shop around. You can also try Asian trade sites like AliExpress, however buy small amount first to make sure the vendor sends you a quality rhinestone.