I wasn't sure if this belonged here or at lifehacks, but due to the nature of the problem this stackexchange seemed the better choice. I ordered a plain piece of clothing, a poncho, online with the intention of adding my own design to it, but they sent me the wrong item. They let me keep it and just gave me a refund because the correct item is no longer in stock. That would be all well and good except I'm having trouble working with what I got. I needed a plain item but the one I was sent has a ton of rhinestones all along the edge of the garment. The rhinestone border is roughly 10 centimeters thick, goes all the way around the edge of the garment and the rhinestones are each about 2 millimeters wide with about 3 millimeters of space between them. They're shiny, but seem to be made of plastic with a metallic-looking coating as opposed to being actual metal.
I've tried some of the methods I've seen online to remove them: sticking the garment in the freezer overnight, applying soap and water and roughly rubbing them together and using a steam iron. Freezing did absolutely nothing. It didn't even loosen them. The soap and water worked better, but it only managed to remove a tiny area very slowly. Just plucking them works but it's even slower. But I don't want to resort to acetone or glue removers because the harsh chemicals may damage the garment and then I still couldn't use it. With the sheer number of these things I need to get rid of there has to be a better way because otherwise this is going to take ages.
So, is there a quick, easy way to remove these rhinestones without damaging the garment so I can get on with my project?