How to Cut Your Own Iron-on Letters

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Iron-on letters offer a quick and inexpensive way to personalize a fabric item such as a tote or t-shirt. They are also a great alternative to appliqué letters for the person without a sewing machine or who doesn't feel capable of sewing letters on. While you can purchase iron-on letters at the craft or fabric store, you may experience a little sticker shock once you start to add up the cost of spelling out a whole word or phrase. Save yourself a lot of money with just a little extra effort by making your own iron-on letters.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer
  • Iron
  • Double-stick fusible web
  • Letter stencils
  • Tailor's chalk or disappearing ink fabric pen
  • Scissors
  • Wash your fabric with laundry detergent only without fabric softener, using the same washing machine settings you do for garments made with similar fabric. Dry your fabric in the dryer. Again, use the same settings as garments with a similar composition. Iron all the wrinkles out of your fabric.

  • Adjust your iron's heat setting to the setting indicated on your double-stick fusible web's packaging; most likely you will set the iron to the proper heat setting for the fabric you are working with. Instructions vary by brand, so it is important to read the packaging.

  • Peel the paper backing from one side of the fusible webbing. Stack the double-stick fusible webbing and your fabric so the wrong side of the fabric is against the webbing. Iron the fabric to activate the adhesive in the webbing, fusing the two together. Again, follow the instructions on the packaging; usually you iron for around 15 to 30 seconds with firm pressure.

  • Trace the letter stencils onto the front of your fabric using tailor's chalk or disappearing ink fabric pen. Don't worry; both come off later. Cut the letters out from the fabric, which is now backed with the double-stick fusible webbing.

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe any chalk or disappearing ink pen marks that remain on the edges of your letters. Wipe out away from the letters, rather than in toward them, to remove these marks. You now have iron-on letters; you just have to follow the fusible webbing instructions to adhere them to any fabric project.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lightweight cotton fabrics, such as quilter's cotton fabrics, are easiest to work with.
  • Trace the outline of the letters with your sewing machine set on a tight zig-zag stitch after you iron the letters onto your fabric project to adhere them permanently. The double-stick fusible web will adhere the letters for a while, but not forever, especially with heavier fabrics. You can later trace over the stitching with fabric paint if you don't like the look of the stitching.
  • Do not skip the washing, drying and ironing step. Preparing your fabric properly is important as it ensures that the fabric is pre-shrunk and that all the starch used in preparing the fabric for the fabric store is removed.

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