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Painting & rhinestone lesson: personalizing a t-shirt

Create your own personalized t-shirt!

A rhinestone-personalized top for the Summer
Personalizing a t-shirt or a sleeveless t-shirt to make an original top for the Summer can be easy and pretty quick too thanks to the hotfix rhinestone electric applicator tool, which will definitely produce a stunning look for your Summer evenings-out. Here's a step-by-step tutorial...


  • a white top: here we're using a scoop neck t-shirt but a sleeveless vest-type top or a simple t-shirt can also be as effective
  • 2 tubes of Diam's 3D paint (gold and chocolate colors)
  • some Swarovski Hotfix crystal rhinestones: 12 SS20 Topaz rhinestones, 12 SS20 Jet nut rhinestones, 18 SS16 Crystal Copper rhinestones ("hotfix" means that they are ready-glued and are applied and glued into place when hot).

the painting stage

3D-effect paint on a sleeveless top
The top must be washed beforehand to remove the sizing finish (that may prevent the paint from setting fast) then ironed. Start by painting the 'branches' of one color on one side of the top. Do this by applying paint directly from the applicator nozzle of the bottle of paint, applying an even pressure onto the paint tube. Diam's paint tubes are not very rigid, which is much better when the job takes a while.. Every time you're ready to apply some paint using the nozzle, start on a sheet of paper, tipping the tube vertically to avoid air bubbles in the paint. Otherwise there's a risk that when you squeeze the bottle, an air bubble will escape, together with a fine spray of paint that will ruin your work.
design in 3D-effect fabric paint
The design is easy to make: 1. Draw on a curve using the bottle of paint 2. Start from the center of this curve and draw a curve that's a mirror image of the first 3. Starting from the last curve, continue like this... In 2 or 3 places, to take up more of the space available on the t-shirt, a couple of branches sprout off from the main branch.

the rhinestone stage

Here we're going to place rhinestones in a regular pattern at the curling ends of the curves: the Jet nut 2x rhinestones (metallic chocolate color) are placed on the gold-colored loops, theTopaz rhinestones are placed on the chocolate-colored loops. Next, we set the smaller Crystal Copper rhinestones along the length of the two branches.
using the electric applicator tool to apply rhinestones
The rhinestones are attached to the fabric using electric applicator tool.
Select the right nozzle for SS20 size rhinestones (the nozzle size is indicated on the nozzle itself).
Heat the tool for a few minutes.
Place the hot nozzle against the 1st rhinestone to be glued on, tip the applicator tool up through 180 degrees so as to be able to place the rhinestone back down on a level surface (you will then be able to see the glue sizzling, a few seconds are enough when the tool is hot), tip the tool slowly down again so to set the rhinestone in place. Press down so that the glue sticks to the fabric and then remove the tool.
 personalized top using 3D-effect paint + rhinestones
Handy hint! If the rhinestone remains stuck to the applicator tool (this can happen if glue has got onto the sides of the nozzle), remove it from the tool by pushing a small thin piece of metal (a nail, a straightened-out paperclip...) through the slit in the nozzle.
Close-up of rhinestones
Glue on all the rhinestones of this same size. Then unplug the applicator tool and let it cool down. Change the nozzle (by unscrewing the small screw a little). Reheat the tool to finish applying the smaller rhinestones.
If you don't have an electric applicator tool, the rhinestones may be glued on with an iron, but you can't be as sure about the end result. Once the rhinestones have been placed in the right positions, you have to protect the t-shirt with a cloth and iron over it with the iron on the cotton setting for a few tens of seconds for each area where there are rhinestones. If the rhinestones are knocked out of position under the cloth, they will be glued to the wrong place. To find out all you need to know, look at our information sheet on different crystal rhinestones. Set your top out flat to dry and wait 48 to 72 hours. By this time, you'll even be able to machine wash it (up to 40°C/104°F) but don't put in any fabric softener. Then iron it on the reverse side of the fabric.