Glitz up your wardrobe by adding rhinestones to leather belts, shirts, boots or necklaces. The main consideration here is the thickness of the leather—the thicker the leather, the more difficult (or impossible) it may be to attach the rhinestones directly. If you’re working with a thick leather belt, for example, you’re better off attaching rhinestones to a thin piece of leather and gluing that leather to the belt. There are two easy techniques for attaching rhinestones. Glue works for items that don’t need to be dry-cleaned, while Tiffany mounts work for items that do.
Buy a type of glue that works with your rhinestones. If you’re using glass or crystal stones, use an epoxy such as E6000 or GemTac. If you’re using acrylic stones, a specialty rhinestone glue or plain white craft glue will work. Avoid hot glue and super glue—hot glue doesn’t offer a very strong bond, and super glue is brittle and easily broken once it’s dry.
Practice gluing a few rhinestones to a piece of scrap leather to get a feel for how much glue to use. Apply glue to the leather and press the rhinestone into it. You want the glue to come up around the edge of the rhinestone, holding the whole stone (not just the back).
Plan out your design. Mark the leather with a piece of chalk, indicating where each dab of glue should be placed.
Dab glue onto the chalk marks. Don’t do more than a few spots at a time—you don’t want the glue to dry by the time you get to it.
Press each rhinestone into the glue and hold it down until the glue on the side of the stone begins to turn clear.
Let the leather dry for 24 hours once all stones have been glued.
Use Tiffany Mounts
Plan out your design. Working on the reverse (wrong) side of the leather, use a piece of chalk to mark the spot you want each rhinestone to go.
Place a Tiffany mount over each chalk mark. The prongs should point toward the right side of the leather.
Press the prongs up through the leather until the back of the Tiffany mount is flush with the leather.
Place a loose rhinestone in each Tiffany mount.
Bend the prongs forward over the rhinestone, holding it in place. Smaller prongs are flexible enough to be moved by hand; with larger prongs, you can use a flat-head screwdriver to help press them down over the stone.
Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away any spilled or excess glue.
Don’t dry-clean leather with glued rhinestones. The dry-cleaning process weakens the glue and makes it turn yellow.