People love all things 'bling' and the demand for rhinestone-decorated apparel shows no signs of fading. But rhinestones come with challenges. Cutting and weeding thick stencil material, stocking various sizes and colors of stones, and dealing with super-tacky hot-fix transfer tape are some of the drawbacks. Certainly there are offsetting advantages as well. But many decorators would prefer an easier way to add 'bling' to garments. If you're one of these people, you will be happy to hear about a simple solution using Siser Holographic heat transfer film in a 'faux rhinestone' process that has a lot of the look and appeal of hot-fix rhinestones without the hassles. Using holographic film doesn't produce quite as intense a look as a faceted faux gem, but it does offer several appealing advantages. How does it differ, how does it work, and why should you try it?

Faux Rhinestone Design Process

Despite all the differences, the design process is the same. You need to create little circles along a path. So if you're using a rhinestone software application, you can keep doing that. Design or import your image, convert the paths to a fill pattern and send it to your plotter. Since you'll be cutting heat transfer film instead of sandblast stencil, remember to reverse the design before plotting. Cutting that heat transfer film is a lot easier than cutting 20mil sandblast stencil film. Any vinyl Express cutter is suitable. So if you're using an R Series or Endura desktop plotter, you can jump in with both feet where previously you had feared to tread. You can use your standard 45° blade. But the holographic film isn't your garden variety T-shirt vinyl. So, if you're using a Qe, Q Series or Graphtec plotter, set the cutting force at 23. If you're using any other cutter, start with about 40% more force than you'd use on EasyWeed and do some test cuts until you dial it in.

Holographic Heat Transfer Features & Instructions

Siser holographic is a highly decorative 4.3mil (110 micron) PVC T-shirt vinyl with a sequin pattern embossed into the face film. It comes on a clear PET liner and is currently available in 17 colors including Crystal, Pearl White, and Spectrum: a silver iridescent film. It's suitable for application on cotton, uncoated polyester, cotton/polyester blends, sublimated polyester, and leather. Press at 320°F with firm pressure for 10 - 15 seconds. Peel cold. The finished garment should be machine washed in cold water with mild detergent, no chlorine bleach. Tumble dry at normal settings, but do not dry clean. It's best to wait at least 24 hours after application before the first wash.


So Siser holographic is a dazzling, colorful heat transfer film. But it's flat, right? So how can it replace hot-fix rhinestones? Well, it can't fully duplicate the way light plays through a faceted faux gem, but that may be its only disadvantage. Conversely, holographic heat transfer film has several advantages.

Softer than stones: Any heat transfer film produces a softer hand than rhinestones. So the finished product is lighter and more comfortable. More colors: As noted above, Siser Holographic comes in 17 colors including silver iridescent styles. That compares to about a dozen colors for rhinestones. So with holographic heat transfer film, you can offer your customers more options.

Easier to cut: As noted above, heat transfer film is much thinner than sandblast stencil or sticky flock, so it's easier to cut and easier to weed. That alone would make it more efficient. But…

No Stone Herding: It's also more efficient because you save two steps including one of the most frustrating. You don't have to brush stones into your stencil and hope they all fall in the right way (they don't). The time you save not herding and flipping rhinestones could be time spent pressing the final graphic and moving on to the next job.

Less Expensive: Since heat transfer film comes on its own liner, you don't have to buy hot-fix heat transfer tape. Also, heat transfer tape is really aggressive and tends to stretch cotton shirts when it's removed. There's no such problem with T-shirt vinyl.

Better bottom line: The deletion of the hot-fix tape is only one of the cost savings. Depending on whether you buy rhinestones by the jar or by the gross, switching to holographic heat transfer film could reduce you material cost by at least 33% per shirt. If you're buying stones by the gross, your total cost for an average design using 200 stones is $1.85. The same size appliqué done in Siser holographic film costs only $1.24 If you're buying rhinestones by the jar, 200 16SS stones costs $6.99. Your total shirt cost would be $7.69. The holographic 'faux rhinestone' option would cut your cost per shirt by 83%. Nuff said. Siser Holographic film comes in 20" wide rolls, in lengths from 15 to 150 feet. A fifteen foot roll provides enough material for 30 shirt-sized graphics and costs only $37.20. You can order them here.


So what does it look like? Kind of like this. All soft, and blingy and sparkly.Use of holographic heat transfer film to emulate rhinestones opens lots of creative possibilities So now you have another option for creating trendy, 'blingy' custom decorated apparel. It's not quite as dazzling as hot-fix rhinestones, but it's a pretty good imitation with a lot of advantages. The Siser holographic faux rhinestone option is softer, more efficient, more economical, easier, and more colorful. What's not to like?