Fixing Iron-On Letters That Come Off a Garment

tools to press shirt

Debbie Colgrove

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

It's not uncommon for letters and other embellishments on sweatshirts to fall off in the laundry. This happens because the heat from the dryer softens the bond of the fusible that was used to apply the decoration.

Odds are both the decoration and the fabric that the garment is made of were not washed before the embellishment was added. The finishes used on apparel, called sizing, prevent the fusible from making good contact with the fabric. If the manufacturer relies only on the fusing material to hold the decoration in place as opposed to stitching the elements in place, the pieces may fall off as the fusible bond breaks down.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine


  • Garment to be repaired
  • Lightweight paper-backed fusible web – As much as your inclination might be to get a "heavy" fusible, using a heavy fusible will usually end up with a very stiff garment.
  • Thread to match the embellishments
  • Parchment paper or backing paper from previously-used fusible web


  1. Apply Fusible Web

    • Protect your ironing surface with a piece of parchment paper. In a pinch, you can use any blank paper you have on hand.
    • Lay the embellishment or letters that have fallen off right side down on the parchment paper.
    • Rough cut a piece of fusible web a bit larger than the elements to be reattached.
    • Place fusible web rough side down over the back of the elements.
    • Set your iron following the fusible manufacturer's instructions and fuse the web to the back of the elements.
    • Allow the fused item(s) to cool.
    • Trim away all excess fusible web.
    How to apply fusible web
    Debbie Colgrove
  2. Reapply the Embellishment

    • Lay the item of clothing out on a flat surface that you can iron on. If you need a larger area than an ironing board, protect a table or countertop with multiple layers of towels.
    • Place the repaired embellishments on the garment, arranging them exactly where you want them. Put a pressing cloth or parchment paper over the top of the items being reattached, taking care not to move the items from the desired position.
    • Press carefully to fuse the items in place.
    • Allow the garment to cool before moving it to let the fusible web fully adhere.
    Fixing letters back on to a sweat shirt
    Debbie Colgrove
  3. Sew to Secure the Embellishment

    If you follow the laundering tips below, your reapplied letters or decorations should stay securely in place. However, sewing them down will make them even more secure.

    Most lettering is secured along the edges with a satin stitch. If you have never sewn a satin stitch, practice using scraps of fabric to perfect your ability to sew straight areas, curves, and to turn corners by pivoting with the sewing machine needle down. This practice time allows you to adjust the width and length of the zigzag stitch and find a guide that will keep your stitching straight and even.

    Another method of sewing appliqué-style letters and designs is to use single lines of straight stitching on all edges of the applique. The trick to this is to keep the stitching even on all edges. Many times this leads to a curled edge on the embellishment, but the closer you sew to the edge, the less design will be lost to the "curling" effect.

    Never sewn a satin stitch before? Practice first!
    Debbie Colgrove

Pointers for Washing Embellished Clothing

If you opt not to sew the embellishment in place, these tips should help keep it from falling off in the wash.

  • Turn the garment inside out so the embellishment is protected inside the garment.
  • Wash in cool water to prevent heat from softening the fuse.
  • Use a low-temperature dryer or line dry the item.
  • Use your iron to press the embellishment into place if edges come unattached, then lay the item flat to cool.