With the amazing fabrics today, we don't often need to add more sparkle, we just like to, right Girls?
So here are some tips on what kinds of sparkle there are and what you're looking at in terms of cost.
Sequins -- small plastic discs sold separately or in attached strings. The attached strings can be single rows or multiple rows. The strings can also be stretchy or not. When you are adding sequin bands to your suits, it's always better to go with stretchy - that makes the application easier, and the sequins won't restrict your suit from stretching properly.
If you are a single sequin fan - loose sequins need to be applied with beads to keep them in place. The loose slip stitch to join them doesn't stretch, so the suit needs to be stretched as you sew them.
When sewing sequins with a machine, remember to use a Denim needle -- 100/16 if you can -- so that it is tough enough to withstand the jarring of the sequins. Always set your stitch to a zig zag, with the length and width being equal. So if your longest stitch is 5mm, then set the width to 5mm as well. ALWAYS sew in the direction of the sequins laying down or you will jam up your machine.
Remember, sequin strings need to be sewn right to the end or the sequins will shed.
Acrylic Stones -- as the name implies, these are rhinestones made from acrylic. There is a vast range of quality out there, some being excellent substitutes for crystal, and others looking as cheap as can be.
The advantage of acrylic is that they are very light weight and very inexpensive. You can get that "chunky" jewelry look for very little money.
The variety of sizes sizes and shapes is as great as crystal. There are fewer colours though. So if you're on a budget, acrylic is a real option. They don't sparkle as much, but in the pool this may not matter as much.
Preciosa Crystal -- Made in Czech Republic, Preciosa Crystal is lead-free. Their shine is nearly equal to Swarovski for about 1/3 the less.
Again, size, colour, and shape is comparable to Swarovski, without the collection of larger, unique shapes. These stones come in flat backs and hot-fix. The flat backs can be glued onto just about any fabric without damage. The hot-fix stones can be applied with a stoning wand, but care needs to be taken not to melt the synthetic spandex fabric.
Swarovski Crystal -- Made in Austria, Swarovski is the Cadillac of rhinestone. Lead crystal ensures the best sparkle, and they innovate and improve the facets of their stones every year. But you pay for the quality. A 10-gross package of common stones can set you back $178.00. Now, 10 gross is 1,440 pieces -- so that's a lot of crystal. However, you would be surprised just how fast you can use up that many stones.
Swarovski leads the pack in terms of colours, shapes, and sizes. There are zippers, pendants, and jewelry-ready stones for settings. On swimsuits, we typically use flat backs again, and glue them on individually.
When selecting stone for your swimsuit, consider the level of the swimmer, the cost of the stone, and the amount of time required to stone the suit.
You can save money for yourself by doing the work yourself, and then use that money on better quality stones, or even greater quantity of stones.
Glue -- Most rhinestones are glued onto the fabric. Hot-fix is fine for sturdy fabrics that do not melt, such as cottons and polyesters. But for nylon/spandex products, thin fabrics such as mesh or lace, and other fine fabrics for costumes such as chiffons or georgette, gluing is the preferred method.
Tools needed for stoning include:
Glue -- we recommend E-6000 - sold at most hardware stores, or by us.
Syringe -- a 10cc or 3cc syringe is a great way to control the amount of glue used
Needles -- these are blunt end needles that won't puncture skin and deliver a precise amount of glue
Tweezers -- sometimes a good tool for picking up and placing stones
Katana -- the best tool for picking up and placing stones exactly where you want them (on the glue!)
We sell Stoning Kits which have 2 syringes, a small tube of glue, two sizes of needles, and a couple of caps for $16.50. They're great for emergency stoning jobs when you're at the competition and notice some stones have fallen off.