How to Apply Iron-Ons

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Peeling, bubbling and cracking are typical problems with iron-on transfers that aren't properly applied. These problems take the fun out of personalizing clothes and fabric with iron-ons, and sometimes make the final product unusable. They can be avoided, however, by taking the time to apply the iron-on the right way. Here's how to apply iron-ons.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Towel
  • Prepare iron and fabric. If the iron has any water in it, pour it out before beginning. Set the iron to its highest setting, and make sure any steam or water settings are turned off. Lay the towel on the ironing board and iron a small section to make sure any steam or water is removed from the iron. If steam or water comes out of the iron, continue ironing the towel until the iron is completely dry. Set the towel aside. If any water seeped through to the ironing board cover, wait for it to dry until proceeding.
    Place the clothing or fabric that you want to transfer the iron-on to on the ironing board and iron out any wrinkles, making sure the area where the transfer will be placed is completely smooth and flat. Allow the fabric to cool.

  • Set iron-on to fabric. Place the iron-on, face down, on the fabric in the desired position. Set the iron down on the iron-on and, without moving the iron, apply downward pressure for 15 full seconds. Lift the iron directly up off the iron-on. If the iron-on is larger than the iron, repeat this process until all areas of the iron-on have been covered by the iron. At this point, the iron-on should be lightly stuck to the fabric. Don't pull at the edges, however, since it is probably not completely fused to the fabric.

  • Complete the transfer. Using light pressure, iron the transfer, using a back and forth motion in one direction for a full 20 seconds. Lift the iron and give the iron-on a moment to cool slightly, but not completely. Iron again, using a back and forth motion, but in the opposite direction, for another full 20 seconds. For example, if you used an up and down motion to iron the first time, use a side-to-side motion the second time. Make sure you iron all areas of the iron-on, paying special attention to the edges. Let the iron-on cool and then carefully peel away the paper backing to reveal the finished transfer.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have an ironing board handy, you can use any heat-proof flat surface. Just place an ironed towel or pillowcase over the surface before beginning.
  • Don't attempt to apply the iron-on transfer if there is any water or moisture on any of the surfaces, including the ironing board or the fabric.
  • If applying to a garment such as a t-shirt, where the transfer could potentially bleed through, make sure to place a piece of paper or pillow case between the layers before applying the iron-on.

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