The $20 Rhinestone Challenge!
Back on a weekend in mid-2019, about 75% of my non-skating friends were at one "Nerd Camp" or another.
I hadn’t expected to be suffering any FOMO that time around, with so much on our plates at the time... But once the stories started flowing from friends at both, it hit.
So. .. (I swear this becomes costuming related!)
One thing we like to do when missing out on a convention experience is to recreate some little aspect of it at home.
Sometimes this means putting Cheetos and M&Ms in Tupperware cereal containers and playing board games, sometimes we'll make some ridiculous craft together... sometimes it’ll mean a mini "rice station", etc.
Shopping for some fabric, I had an idea: What about doing a "costuming challenge" at home?
While I wasn’t so interested in gathering up tin foil, bubble wrap, etc to make something wild in my livingroom (I think that is probably better left to a convention space, like this was!), I could do something sort of related.
The $20 Rhinestone Challenge
So, I challenged myself to make a figure skating dress and bling it out using only $20* in cheap, craft store acrylic or resin rhinestones.
Random, sure... but the idea of making something decent looking out of crappy, cheap rhinestones sounded kind of fun!
* $20 is an approximate, for cost AFTER coupons are applied. This is in Canadian funds, so about $16 USD.
I made a dance dress base, and decided that I would be aiming for going fairly gaudy on the bling.
The dress was made with my base “sample size” pattern. I freehanded the skirt and reverse applique cutouts. (See “How to Applique Spandex” for details on reverse applique!)
Green Fabric: #71 Glo Green Shiny Milliskin from Spandex House **
Mesh Fabric: #03 Natural Stretch Mesh from Spandex House **
Lining: Beige Swimsuit lining from Ann’s Fabric Shop.
** A note on Spandex House: Some people in the costuming community have reported credit card issues, when using Spandex House's website. I have not, but I also call all my orders in to Edward. Given the reports of web/CC security issues, I definitely recommend phoning your order in!
Going for gaudy on the bling, I went straight to the local Michaels store, and bought 2 little clear cubes full of some of the crappiest looking resin rhinestones I’ve seen. 1 set was larger shapes, the other was medium sized rounds.
Perfectly fine for kids crafts, but nothing I would have ever considered using on a skating dress.
In the spirit of the challenge, though... I wanted to see if I could make them look good!
I used a 40% off coupon. I want to say they came to about $12 total.
In addition to that, I had some baggies of cheap resin rhinestones from Ebay that were something like $2.50 each. In the end used less than a bag each of clear, light green, and a darker green.
I used E-6000 Fabri-Fuse to glue them onto the dress.
Also, I used a Crystal Katana to place the smaller stones on the dress.
Embellishing the Dress
Note: See my post "Crystalling on Spandex" for everything you need to know about applying rhinestones to stretch garments.
I started by placing the largest stones first.
This laid out the rough pattern of the design space, and ensured that the large stones would be relatively evenly spaced out.
It’s easier to fill in with smaller stones than try to fit larger stones in a field of already-placed small stones.
As I was placing the larger stones, I really started to second guess the whole thing. I had underestimated how tacky, gaudy, and clunky the first round of rhinestones would look!
Adding the filler stones - both the larger rounds from the craft store, and the smaller, more normally-sized ones from China - really made a huge difference.
The Final Dress
In the end, here’s what I came up with:
Not bad for ~$20 in rhinestones*, huh?
* and a few hundred dollars worth of labour, but hey... I didn't limit myself on time for the "challenge", LOL.
Rhinestone Challenge Conclusion
In conclusion, I would always recommend getting the best quality stones that your budget can handle...
... but if you really need to go cheap, you can sometimes just overwhelm with quantity!
Note: While any individual stone may not have a ton of shine, the bit of light that does reflect of it can bounce off the surrounding stones, amplifying the effect.
So: If you're going to use cheaper stones, use a LOT of them, and keep them close together.
For more information on crystals in general, see my post "Everything You Need to Know about Rhinestones".
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