Decorating Flip Flops
& Shoes...

Flip Flops

Flip-Flops come in all different varieties...some are made of real rubber, others are some type of vinyl or polyurethane...IF the Flip-Flops are made of real rubber, it is fairly simple to apply rhinestones to them. BUT, if they are made of a vinyl or polyurethane, you can bet their is an acrylic finish applied to the surface. BEWARE, most glues hate acrylic finishes! Therefore, I suggest the following techniques to apply rhinestones to these articles:

PLEASE NOTE: Not all flip flops are created equal! Cheap flip flops from China often "leak" oil out of all plastic parts, especially the "elastic rubber" straps. NO glue will hold stones to this type plastic, for as soon as you remove the oil and glue stones on, more oil will end up on the surface, floating the stones off...this oil can make the glue gummy and, in general, a mess. DO not waste time with cheap flip flops made in China!  Just a little helpful hint from the Rhinestone ain' t the glue or the rhinestones, it is the flip flop material you are fighting!  AND if you have an allergic reaction to the "rubber," DO NOT wear them again!

  • Prepare straps - Use a used 3M kitchen sponge (green scratcher side, yellow sponge side). Use the green side to "sand" the straps where you will be applying rhinestones. Be sure to remove any shiny finish. You can play it safe by using ammonia in the cleaning process...ammonia dissolves acrylics.
  • Once the straps are prepared, wipe clean with alcohol and allow to fully dry.
  •  Apply GemTac glue as outlined in Applying rhinestones to Fabrics and other items.
  •  Set stones, one at a time, into glue. Sizes 16SS is the most common sized used for Flip-Flops. Often, two or three rows are used.
  •  Allow to fully dry ...I suggest a time of one week for GemTac...this glue continues to gain strength over a period of about 3 months, but I have found that just about maximum strength is reached at about day 7.
  • You will find GemTac to remain very flexible over a very long period of time. The only thing GemTac does not like is really cold the temperatures approach freezing, GemTac becomes brittle. IF you flex the base at these temps, the rhinestones will probably pop do not wear flip flops when it is freezing (a no brainer, in our opinion).
  •  IF there is a time that an occasional stone is lost, repair is a piece of cake ...simply reapply a small amount of GemTac and stick a stone into it, allow to dry, and you are done.
  •  I do not like E6000 glue for flip flops. I have not seen that it holds well, and E6000 dries shiny ...I do not like that either.

It appears that the success or failing of Flip-Flop is in the preparation of the straps...not most glues, etc.   Please note, this is NOT how I apply stones to flip flops, read below for what I do...I give no advice, I give no guarantees ...I am simply saying this is what I do!


All that follows is our technique, NOT how factories apply rhinestones to sneakers. I have found this to be, by far, the most permanent way to apply to is NOT what you might think. I have not found a suitable way of applying directly to the sneaker toe without loss of rhinestones when the toes are flexed, as happens all the time. NO glue I know of will hold rhinestones to flexing rubber without rhinestone loss. Of course, you can repair by gluing a new stone in its place, but the following is a bit more permanent, involves an extra step, but well worth the time in the long run.

If you want to decorate the Top of the toe of a sneaker, then use stiff paper and make a pattern of the toe (I suspect making one pattern and using it upside down for the opposite shoe will be just fine, but try it out for fit...make sure the pattern is exact!  Use heavy KNIT fabric of the same color as the rubber, cut to pattern two toes. (if you fold the fabric, you will cut once, then have opposite toes from one pattern, one cutting!  Mark or fit to toe of sneaker (this takes about 10 minutes ...don't go freaking' out on me here!)  Order and use 10SS HEAT FIX rhinestones and arrange on fabric, fabric right side up!  You can actually cover entire fabric doing this work using tweezers or a applicator stick (we sell applicator sticks and tacky tape) Now, with fabric patterns under clear tacky tape (go to "making your own transfers, read!) stones into tacky tape. Once finished, apply "transfer" to fabric using either a heat press or Iron set to Permanent Press...push down as hard as possible, do NOT move iron, count to 25, remove iron and allow to cool 5-10 seconds, remove tape. NOW, you have rhinestoned fabric to contact glue to sneaker toe glue holds much better to rubber (in fact, you can actually use rubber glue if you handle it like contact adhesive.  Any time an edge starts to lift, just apply a little glue and smack it back in place...EASY!

Any time I have tried to glue individual stones to rubber, once the rubber flexes, the stone lets loose!  Phooey on that noise! Try it...what do you you have to lose? I treat flip flops the same way...but that is our method, not necessarily yours.

Crocs with RhinestonesCROCS™:   

We have found these to be remarkably easy to decorate...

  • clean surfaces with alcohol ... do this twice to make sure all mold release oil is removed from the surfaces you are going to glue to.  
  • USE GemTac glue, follow instructions found under "Gluing rhinestones to fabric and other surfaces" here at Rhinestone Guy...very fast, very easy, and very inexpensive to get a good look from these shoes. 
  •  Don't be afraid to use shapes from Swarovski, any round stone, and we tend to use smaller stones rather than larger stones...they withstand abrasion better, have smaller surfaces to snag on and be ripped free. 

Dress Shoes, heels, pumps

Rhinestone Shoe StrassedDecorating high heel shoes is very popular. The best shoes to decorate are fabric as the various glues adhere the rhinestones better to fabric. There are different ways to decorate shoes and many how to videos are available on U Tube. It does take a lot of rhinestones to cover completely a shoe.

What you will need are:

Rhinestones, Glue and applicator sticks.

As to how many rhinestones, the answer will depend on the size of the shoes, the area you are covering, are you covering it in a tight format. Regardless, to cover a show completely, you most likely be needing at least two sizes. One main size and a smaller size to fill rhinestones in. The smaller the size of the stones the better the shoe will look but the more work you will have.

Rhinestone covered shoe same size

If you want a classy evenly covered shoe, you need to estimate - measure the area that you are covering and use the Rhinestone Calculator to estimate the number of rhinestones you would need. Some like to outline the show and the heel with smaller stones and fill in the center with larger size stones, some like a completely covered look.

Rhinestone Strass shoes with rhinestonesA popular way to decorate shoes these days is called strassing. It means using various size of rhinestones to create an effect. If you are going to use a variety of stones, this can be a bit more tricky as it depends of the number of each size you want to use. However, it is a bit easier to create as it is random. Regardless you will probably need a few gross of larger rhinestones, about 20 gross of "main" smaller size rhinestones and a couple of gross of small filler rhinestones.

When decorating shoes, you can incorporate jewels, for unique effect or even hot fix convex nailheads (you can glue them) for a spiky look as well.

When it comes to decorating shoes with rhinestones, have fun and just let your imagination explore the possibilities.

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