angle-left Bling It Yourself

Bling It Yourself

Add your own sparkle to your horse-showing outfits.
text size

Quality crystals are the key to beautiful show outfits. But if your show clothes budget is limited – like mine is – try blinging a nice shirt yourself. It’s surprisingly easy and fun. Here are a few of my tips:

Finding Stones

Finding the right rhinestones to complete or fix your show shirt can be a challenge.

Many craft stores sell pre-designed, press on and iron-on, “hot-fix” crystals but these will not have the same shine and sparkle as the ones you see on the big-name show-clothes designers’ tops.

There are many hidden places you can find the flatback Swarovski crystals. I usually buy them from a local dance clothes store/studio. You can also find them on eBay or Amazon and at some high-end fabric stores.

The crystals range in sizes from large to teeny-tiny. Rhinestones are measured in SS units: one SS is equal to 8/10ths of a millimeter. I have found the 18-22 SS sizes work best for show clothes. You can purchase them by the dozen (12), gross (144) or masse (1,200). How much you want your shirt to sparkle determines how much you need to buy.

If you’re passionate about horse show fashion, then you’ll want to subscribe to The American Quarter Horse Journal. We feature regular stories about looking your best in the show pen.

There are different cuts that Swarovski rhinestones can have that give them a different sparkle. There is a plain round cut, rivoli, xillion (or diamond) and checkerboard. The xillion and checkerboard are the most commonly used.

There are also going to be a lot of colors to choose from. It is best to take your shirt to the store with you when buying rhinestones. Just taking along a picture of your shirt can often distort the colors, causing your rhinestones to not match.

Some websites and stores will have glue that is specially made for attaching flatback rhinestones to material. The best glue to use when applying your rhinestones, in my experience, is plain instant glue (such as Super Glue). They now make instant glue in gel form that makes the process less messy.

Some people prefer to put the glue directly onto the rhinestone and set it onto the shirt, but I prefer putting the glue onto the shirt and setting the rhinestone onto it. This ensures the rhinestone ends up in the correct spot.

Adding Bling

Before you start stoning your shirt, set up a station in a well-lit area. It is best to work on a large table with newspaper spread on it. I like to do this in case my stones or glue spill.

Get a thin magazine and cover it in clear plastic wrap. This will guard the opposite side of your shirt from the glue as you stone. Lay your shirt down and slide the covered magazine inside your shirt, in between the fabric layers.

Start stoning in one area. It is best to concentrate on stoning one color or area at a time instead of being sporadic.

Subscribing to The American Quarter Horse Journal will give you the opportunity to make sure you look your best in the show pen and keep up with the latest horse show fashion.

There are many different ways to decorate your shirt. You can follow the pattern of the fabric, create your own patterns or do letters. When stoning the pattern on a fabric, vary the sizes and shapes of rhinestones throughout the pattern to create the most sparkly arrangements.

Sometimes the crystals can be hard to place with your fingers, especially the small ones. I use tweezers for the larger stones and a pencil eraser for the small ones. Dab the end of your pencil eraser in water or use an all-purpose craft glue to give it a little grab, and it will pick up the rhinestone.

Once you have finished stoning, you may notice some of the stones have dried glue on them. Use some non-acetone nail polish remover and a cotton swab to remove the dried glue. Let the shirt lay flay for at least two hours before trying it on.

Then rock your new, self-made, custom-blinged top at your next horse show.