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Fashion: Making vintage T-shirts sparkle

With customized versions of classic rock 'n' roll T-shirts selling for hundreds of dollars, the do-it-yourself option has big appeal. The entire cost of this project - not including our own prized 20-year-old Ramones T-shirt - was about $50.

The process is time-consuming but not technically difficult. In fact, the hardest part may be finding a cool T. Try local thrift stores or garage sales, if you have the time and are feeling lucky. Or try searching online. We found authentic punk T's for about $25 at

After figuring out what portion of the shirt we wanted to highlight with crystals, we estimated how many we'd need and headed to M.J. Designs for supplies (see list below).

Initial efforts to apply each crystal using only our fingers proved a mess: It was hard to pick up the tiny stones, and fingers soon got sticky with glue. The toothpick method worked like a charm.


Rhinestones - M.J. Designs sells these by the bag for about $2-$4 for a bag of 20, depending on size and color. We used between 20 and 30 bags for the front of the shirt.

Gem-tack glue (washable), about $3 for a medium-sized tube.

A small piece of tinfoil

A toothpick

A dab of beeswax


1. Squeeze a dollop of glue onto the foil.

2. Place a tiny ball of beeswax on the end of the toothpick.

3. For precise, clean application, pick up rhinestones from the face side with the waxed tip of toothpick.

4. Dip the rhinestone's back side into glue and place on T-shirt where desired.

5. Allow T-shirt 48 hours' drying time before it's worn. Launder inside-out in cold water; hang dry.
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