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How to use Iron-on patches on clothes

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An Iron-on patch is a type of sticker withe a plastic backing. It is a must-have if you have holes in clothes. It is a staple in alternative fashion styles. These patches are the perfect embellishment for achieving distinctive and unconventional looks. And using these iron-on patches may be considered as the best way to upcycle clothes without breaking the bank.

Most of the patches are colorful with an eye catching design which can take your bag or jeans you are applying it into out-of-ordinary category.
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Are there any fabrics on which you should not adhere iron-on patches?

It is better to avoid sticking these heat activated patches on Nylon, Rayon, Silk, Waterproof fabric and other coated fabrics. You should not stick these on Fabrics which are textured or have heavily treated surface. Basically, any heat-sensitive material, where high heat can damage the surface.
This includes leather, faux leather, vinyl, coated fabrics, thin nylon fabrics that you know will melt, fabrics with a lot of spandex fibers, Rayon /viscose fabric, delicate silk. Anything that your common sense says will be destroyed with high heat. Synthetic fibers can melt in high heat. Leather and plastic material will be disfigured with heat.

Apply the iron-on heat transfer patch

The plastic backing on the back of the iron-on patch has to be removed before placing it in position on the garment with the design face up.They have glue on the back which gets activated when heat is applied from the top.

The glue on the back of the patch is heat activated and when you apply heat from the top, it permenantly sticks to the fabric.

Keep a pressing clothing on top as you press – especially if your base fabric is heat sensitive and if the patch has decorative elements like sequins and beads.

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If there is a backing, you can keep the sticker on the garment after taking off the backing and then using a pressing cloth on top of the sticker press it down with a heated iron.

What temperature setting is used on iron when putting iron-on patches on clothes?

The best iron temperature to use to iron-on patches can vary with the fabric you are applying the patch on. Heat setting that you need to use will also depend on the thickness of the fabric.
Whatever fabric you are using place a thin cloth or pressing sheet between the iron and the patch to protect the fabric.

Heat setting for Cotton and Linen clothes: You can use a higher heat setting, usually around 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit (150-175 degrees Celsius).

Heat setting for Synthetic Fabrics like polyester or nylon: Use a lower heat setting, generally around 275-300 degrees Fahrenheit (135-150 degrees Celsius). These materials can melt or warp if exposed to high heat.

Heat setting for Wool and Delicate Fabrics: Use the lowest heat setting, usually around 225-275 degrees Fahrenheit (107-135 degrees Celsius).

Any other ironing set up instructions?

Yes, very important : Check the fabric label for the recommended ironing instructions
Start with a lower setting and gradually increase it until the patch adheres correctly
And, Do not use steam during the ironing process. Steam can interfere with the patch’s adhesive.

Apply even pressure with the iron to ensure that the patch bonds securely to the fabric.

My Patch is not sticking!! What to do?

1. Are you using too low a temperature?- this may not activate the glue properly. You should consider the fabric behind the patch, but the glue is heat-activated so it needs heat.
2. Are you holding the iron in place for the recommended amount of time?
3. Are you applying even and firm pressure?
4. Are there any dirt, oils, or wrinkles on the fabric that is preventing proper adhesion?
5. Did you use the clothing immediately after sticking? You need to allow the patch and fabric to cool completely after ironing?
6. Did you try re-ironing it?
7. If all of these failed, maybe it is not you, it is the patch. Accept that your iron-on patch is just a low-quality patch and move on. Some have bad glue on the back which will not stick whatever you do.

After you have completed the sticking, the job is not completely done – you have to keep it as it is, and that requires some effort – in care and maintainence.

Wash the garment inside out and in a gentle cycle with only cold water. This way it will last forever. Never ever use very hot water to wash the garment with these stickers – the glue may come undone, especially that of the thicker patches.

How to use iron-on patch over a hole? Is it ok to use?

If you are worried that the patch may collapse over the hole, then you have a large hole. Iron-on patches are best used on small to medium holes. If you are using over large holes, it is better to use a backing fabric. This is especially true when patching over large holes on jeans. Ensure that the patch fully covers the hole and extends beyond the damaged area.

Can you attach these stickers without an iron?

You can try using a hair iron, or hair straightner, if you are in a place without an iron but with a hair setting tool (which is odd). You can ofcourse use a heat press machine. And you can sew the patch to the fabric.

The decorative iron-on stickers.

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An easy way to transfer clothing into ‘something beautiful’ instantly is to apply the easily available iron-on heat transfer stickers/patches on them. Plain clothing and accessories like a t-shirt or skirt or mask and even umbrellas and bags can be perked up with these easy-to-apply stickers or patches with heat transfer backings. Drab to Fab, just like that!

Buy the stickers and apply with a heated iron – that is all you need to do. If you have a good heat press machine the job becomes easier and highly efficient.

You can get the iron-on stickers in so many different designs – if not you can also print it out on your printer. You can read more about it in this post on printing using iron-on transfer paper

Warning: This decorative technique is best used on nowashable items. The sticker doesnot last long if you have ti wash it frequently.

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There are 2 types of iron-on heat-transfer stickers –

  • Sticker which is applied face down (this has the design on reverse (mirror image) on the front with a backing sheet on the other side) and
  • Sticker which is applied the wrong side down. This will have a thin layer of heat activated glue on the back like regular stickers. 

Which fabric is best for Iron-on Heat transfer stickers?

The only criterion is that the material should be one that can be ironed. Check out this post on different ways to attach patches

A cotton or cotton t-shirt is usually the first choice for anyone wanting to do this project. Linen and cotton fabrics can also take the heat. Whatever you use, clean it – if it is old, wash to remove dirt, and if it is new wash to remove the sizing.

Some stickers will look like a thin plastic sheet with the design printed on it – it is water proof. You can use them on umbrellas, outdoor clothes, bags etc.

How to apply the iron-on sticker with a paper backing? 

This iron-on sticker with a paper backing is applied face down on the garment.

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Keep the patch face down on the garment

If you have a steam iron, ensure that the setting is not on- remove water completely. You absolutely do not want the steam setting.

Iron the garment neatly, especially where the design will be placed.

Keep the sticker face down on the garment face.

Heat the iron to a desired high temperature – depending on the fabric.

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Press the iron down for 15-20 seconds

Press down the iron on top of the transfer sticker with pressure (do not iron ie dragging the iron up and down) and keep it there for 15-20 seconds (count the seconds). Take the iron up. Then do it on the rest of the sticker – all areas should be covered, especially the corners and edges.

You can turn the garment inside out and press from the other side too for added adhesion.

After the heat has cooled down, remove the paper backing on your sticker.

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You have to do this carefully after ensuring that the design is not coming out with the paper as you pull it.

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. And always use a pressing cloth to iron from the front.

Related posts : How to make clothing patches; How to attach cloth patches- 9 ways; How to make beaded patches; How to make embroidered fabric patches. 

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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