Fixing Iron-On Letters That Come Off a Garment

Ironing fabric
Willie B. Thomas / Getty Images

How to Fix Iron-On Letters When They Fall Off

the supplies to fix letters that fell of a sweatshirt in the dryer
Debbie Colgrove

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 and does not apply any stitching, when the fusing starts to soften the embellishment comes off the garment.

What You Will Need to Make Repairs

  • 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.
  • An Iron
  • Parchment paper or backing paper from previously used webbing.
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread to match the letters or applique (optional)

Apply Fusible Web

How to apply fusible web
Debbie Colgrove
  • Protect your ironing surface with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Lay the applique or letters right side down on the parchment paper.
  • Place fusible web over the back of the applique or letters.
  • Cut the fusible web for a rough fit.
  • Press the fusible web to the applique following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Allow the fused item to cool.
  • Trim away all excess fusible web.

Reapply the Embellishment

Fixing letters back on to a sweat shirt
Debbie Colgrove
  • 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 letters or design and arrange 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.
  • Carefully iron the items in place.
  • Allow the garment to cool before moving it to let the fusible web to do its job.

Sew to Secure the Embellishment

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

If you follow the laundering tips in the next slide, your reapplied letters or decorations should stay securely in place. That said, you can make them even more secure by sewing them to the garment after you've ironed them on.

Most lettering is secured along the edges with a satin stitch. If you have never sewn a satin stitch, practice what you will be doing using scraps of fabric to perfect your ability to straight areas, curved areas. and turning 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 applique-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.

Pointers for Washing Embellished Clothing

If you opt not to sew the applique 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.