Originally published on RxGirl on Saturday, 25 August 2012. The original post was published with white text on white background, so the only way to read it on the site is to highlight the text. To make things easier for everyone, I have copied and pasted the article here for you to read.
How to Bling Out Your Own Suit
Most of us ladies love the dazzle of crystals and sequins when seen on competition suits, but such embellishments can be pretty expensive, especially when suits are custom made and crystallized by a professional suitmaker. However, it is possible to bling out your own suit at home as long as you have a somewhat creative hand and a lot of patience. I have endured the laborious process of applying crystals by hand on three suits. Despite the fact that this was very time-consuming, it was well worth it considering the fact that I saved hundreds of dollars by crystallizing the suits myself.
You may be wondering where to purchase a plain competition suit. Good sources are eBay, Jagware, Suits You Swimwear and Chynna Dolls, or you can have a suit made by a professional suit designer (examples are Passion Fruit, CJ’s Elite, TameeMarie) and then apply the crystals yourself. Once you have your suit, you can determine what design you would like to apply on the fabric. You can get ideas from looking at competition images of ladies in suits you like, or you can go to a site like http://www.Dreamstime.com and select a clip art image. After this is done you need to make a copy of the design so that it is the appropriate size for your suit, and also make copies of the mirror image so that your suit design is symmetrical. These prints will serve as templates when you are ready to start mapping out the design. If you are very artistic, you can sketch a freehand design.
The next step in the process is determining the colors, sizes and quantities of the crystals, beads or sequins you want to purchase for your suit design. Rhinestone Depot is an excellent wholesale online site for crystals. I also like Artbeads but the prices are higher. Make sure when you place your order that you order extra materials just in case some of the crystals pop off. Generally speaking, you should only purchase flat-backed stones as they are much easier to glue onto fabric and much less likely to pop off.
There are two options available to you with Swarovski crystals when you are trying to decide how to affix the stones to your suit. Swarovski crystals come in a “Hotfix” variety which already has adhesive on the back, but you will need to purchase the application tool (which looks like a soldering iron) in order to apply the stones. The other option is to get the regular flat-backed crystals and use a fabric glue such as E6000 or Aleene’s Flexible Stretchable Fabric Glue. If you are using very small stones, you should have a pair of small angled tweezers on hand to pick up the crystals. Other supplies to have on hand are toothpicks (for setting a crystal in the exact spot where you want it and for cleaning off excess glue) and a piece of sturdy cardboard large enough to stretch out the fabric in your suit while you are working on it.
To begin the process, line up the crystals on the design which you have printed out. This will give you a familiarity with the design and also ensure that you have enough crystals to create the design. You can also place marks on the fabric with a washable marker so you have some guidelines. Put your suit on the cardboard in such a way that the fabric is completely stretched out. KEEP FABRIC STRETCHED WHILE YOU GLUE RHINESTONES AND ALLOW GLUE TO DRY! If not, the crystals will pop off.
Start at one end of the design, placing a small amount of glue on the back of the crystal and then pressing into place. For smaller crystals, you can use angled tweezers and toothpicks to move the crystals into their exact spots. It is a good idea to switch back and forth from one side to another to ensure your pattern remains symmetrical.
Most importantly, TAKE YOUR TIME! This will take HOURS and HOURS to do. Trust me, it really takes a while. When I crystallized the peacock feathers on the suit I wore in 2011 (pictured above at the IFBB North American, where I took a First Place finish in Open and Second Place in Masters), it took me a total of 38 hours to complete the work. I had no choice but to keep returning to the project over a number of sessions until it was completed. Then again, there were over 3,000 crystals, so I created quite a challenge for myself.
Once you are finished, you can celebrate your creativity and rest in the knowledge that you have a one-of-a-kind suit!