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Are you ready to glue rhinestones on your ballroom dancing or figure skating dress?

Adding rhinestones to a competition dance or skate costume is one of the last steps in finishing a dress you made.  It can also be an important step in blinging out a bargain dress with little or no stones.  Either way, rhinestones make a huge impact on how your competition dress will look – and how you feel wearing the dress.

Which raises the big question:

How do you bring your rhinestone design to life and put it on the dress without messing it up?

Sketching rhinestone patterns can be lots of fun.  After all, there are thousands of inspiration ideas on our Sew Like A Pro™ Instagram and Pinterest boards.

But transferring your design to your dress is a whole different story.

If you are a starter instead of a finisher, you probably hate the process of marking out a rhinestone pattern on your dance or skate dress, because it can be very tedious.  If you want your dress to be competition-quality, it is important to have a rhinestone design that flatters your figure and looks professionally crafted.  Rushing the rhinestoning is not a great idea.

Here’s where I come in to help ease the transition from idea to reality.

Today’s video is an excerpt from one of the Dressmaker Mentorship Q&A calls I host as a part of my online sewing school.  One of my sewing school members, Liddy, asked about strategies for transferring a rhinestone pattern to a dress.

Fortunately, there are several different methods you can use to mark out your design.


 Which type of rhinestone design do you want to create? 

How you mark your rhinestone pattern on your dress depends on what kind of rhinestone pattern you are using.


green ballgown with linear rhinestone pattern

1. Linear Rhinestone Patterns

Linear rhinestone patterns are very easy to mark out, because you can draw the lines directly onto your dress using measuring tapes or strips of ribbon as the guides.


For the green ballgown on the right, I used a fresh disappearing pen to draw many, many lines on all portions of the dress while it was on the dress form. … “on the dress form” is the key phrase.  When working on women’s costumes, we cannot do detail work flat because we have curves that must be worked around.

The upper portion of the leotard, I “eyeballed” to get the lines as close to my preferred spacing while adjusting for the bust curves.  Notice how the lines closest to the breasts curve a bit and the spacing is a little further apart?  There is no way around that on a curvy body.

For the zig zag area, I drew two straight lines indicating where I wanted the zig zags to be.  I made a short, paper zigzag template that I placed over the straight, asymmetrical lines, and then drew the zigzags so I knew exactly where to glue the rhinestones.

For the hip area, I used a 1″ or 25mm wide elastic to create the lines.  I pinned the elastic to the leotard and traced on either side of it.  I then measured a wider distance on either side of the elastic (maybe 2″ or 4 cm wide) and placed another elastic strip to create the next line.  More than likely, I used the same elastic piece and kept moving it over and over.

Sprinkles on the skirt, you can draw with a purple pen or “eyeball” it for the spacing.

Click here to go to my blog on how one figure skater created her own diamond rhinestone pattern.


2. Lace Rhinestone Patterns

Often the best way to create an elaborate rhinestone design is to rhinestone lace or appliqués.  The lace creates the pattern, so you don’t have to worry about marking out lines for the rhinestones.

charmeuse ballroom dance dress with guipure lace bodice

To create a lace rhinestone design, simply pin the lace on your dress and move it around until you get the look you want.  Take pictures so you can compare designs, like the sleeves below.

lace ice skating costume, lace ice dance dress, lace ballroom dance dress, how to sew figure skating dresses, ice skate dress patterns, dancesport dress patterns, Smooth dance dress,

Once you have settled on the lace placement, you can sew it or glue it to the dress or sleeves and then begin gluing on rhinestones.


3. Abstract or artistic rhinestone design

For people who think they are not creative, curvy shapes and artistic rhinestone designs are often the most difficult.

For artistic designs, draw the pattern on the dress with a disappearing pen while it is on the dress form, like you would with a linear pattern.  Then take pictures to see if the design you drew is the right size or not.  You can also pin scrap pieces of fabric onto the dress to mark your different shapes.

For example, if you were designing a rose pattern like the design on the skate dress below, you could cut out petal shapes from scrap fabric and pin them onto dress.  Then take photos and see if the size proportion is correct.  Use the same color fabric as what your rhinestones will be so you get a more clear idea of what the final design will look like.

Click here to see the blog featuring this figure skating dress.

skate dress with rhinestoned rose design


rose rhinestone template by Asta in Estonia


The size of the rhinestone pattern should be relative to the size of the body.  Why?  If the pattern is too small it is a weak focal point.  If the pattern is too large it can over power the woman.  Know that you may end up changing your original sketch so that it is more proportionate to the woman wearing the dress, and therefore most figure-flattering.


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 Using stencils to draw rhinestone patterns 

Stencils can also be very helpful for transferring a rhinestone design to your dress.  If you have a lot of repeating shapes, or you have a shape that is very difficult to draw, stencils are the way to go!  There are many pre-cut quilting or crafting stencils designs you can buy.  Or, you can get blank quilting stencils and poke holes for the rhinestones or cut your own designs.  If you want to get really fancy, create your own stencil patterns using plain card stock you purchase at your local office supply store.

You can also use stencils to mark areas for painting your dress.  The folks who make Rhythmic Gymnastic costumes have this down to a science.


Stenciling and detail work on children's costumes can be done flat like you see here because the child's body is stick straight.  If you are rhinestoning or hand painting a curvy teenager or woman's body, do it on a dress form so you have an accurate view of what the pattern will really look like on a mature body.

example of using stencil to mark designs on dress


The fun thing about stencils is that you easily move them around and mark different areas to find the best placement for your rhinestone design.  Happy rhinestoning!

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