How to Iron Embroidery Projects and Embroidered Clothes

Unlocking the Secrets to Perfectly Pressed Embroidery!

Master Ironing Embroidery: Essential Tips for Perfect Results

Embroidery is an art, and like any masterpiece, it deserves a proper finishing touch. How? Through skillful pressing! Just as we do with sewing, pressing embroidery not only sets the design but also elevates its professional allure. Moreover, if you’re dealing with machine embroidery, the right press might even rectify slight glitches, like those caused by a stabilizer slip-up. Join me as we dive deep into the optimal pressing techniques and tools for both hand and machine embroideries to ensure your designs shine at their peak.

Finding the Right Iron Setting for Various Fabrics

Different fabrics have distinct needs when it comes to ironing. Quilting cotton, for instance, is quite receptive to heat, while silk can be a tad finicky. Additionally, not all threads are iron-friendly. Threads like metallic ones with a foil layer might not fare well under high temperatures, especially when pressed directly. Generally, most embroidery floss and threads made from polyester or rayon can withstand low heat. If you’re looking for precision, always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for your specific thread or floss. And remember, gentle pressing prevents thread flattening. If uncertain about the iron setting, always start low and gradually increase, testing at each interval. If a traditional iron isn’t handy, a garment steamer or a compact iron like my personal favorite, the Steamfast mini-iron, can be a lifesaver!

Which Side to Press?

Always aim to press from the back (or the wrong side) of your design. Direct pressing on the front may lead to thread flattening. Plus, any unforeseen marks from a not-so-clean iron or scorched fabric will be hidden away. However, there’s an exception when dealing with stabilizer toppings in machine embroidery – these require a gentle front press. Did an overzealous press leave your threads too flat? Fret not! A quick steam press from a distance followed by a delicate finger fluff can rejuvenate them.

Setting the Stage for Pressing

Lay your embroidered piece face down on a padded surface like a towel. This soft backdrop supports the stitches, preventing them from flattening. To shield the embroidery further, place a heat-resistant fabric, press cloth, or a thin towel over its back before pressing.

Pressing Pitfalls to Watch Out For

  • Press, Don’t Glide: Your goal is to press the embroidery, not slide the iron over it. Gentle pressing for about 10-15 seconds per section is key. Moving the iron can distort your stitches or fabric.
  • Marker Alert: Prior to pressing, ensure all markings, especially from water- and air-soluble pens, are fully removed. Remember, cool water is best for water-soluble markers, while air-soluble ones will fade over time.
  • Watch the Wetness: If your fabric is damp from stabilizer or marker removal, let it air-dry a tad. Pressing sopping wet embroidery can lead to scorch marks and fiber damage. However, slightly damp fabric is generally safe to press.
  • Can’t Iron Out Everything: If washing has caused fabric and thread to shrink differently, leading to puckers, pressing can’t resolve this. The same goes for major puckering from inadequate stabilization or hooping.

Test Before the Main Event

Never pressed that fabric or thread before? Always test on a separate sample to avoid potential disasters on your main project.

Pressing Embroidery with Special Toppers

If your machine embroidery uses a heat-dissolving topper, pressing is essential for removal. In such cases, press the design’s front using a pressing cloth and a roughly 430-degree setting. A cool trick for water-soluble stabilizers involves pressing with a damp paper towel as a buffer. With medium heat and no steam, press until the towel starts drying. Once lifted, the leftover topper typically adheres to the towel.

Adding a Backing to Your Embroidery

If your embroidery’s reverse side will be against delicate skin, like on baby clothes, adding a backing can be a boon. This addition masks the rough stitches, ensuring comfort. There’s a myriad of backing options, but I’m partial to Sulky’s Tender Touch backing. To apply, cut a slightly oversized piece, place the textured side down, and press. A little tip: using pinking shears around the edges can prevent curling after washes or during use.

Key Pressing Points
Aspect Details
Pressing vs. Ironing Always press in sections, avoid moving the iron back and forth.
Setting the Iron Start with a low setting and gradually increase based on fabric and thread type.
Side to Press Press from the design’s back to prevent thread flattening and avoid visible marks.
Preparing for Pressing Use a padded surface and a protective cloth to shield the embroidery.
Common Pitfalls Avoid ironing markers, ensure fabric isn’t too wet, and remember some issues can’t be ironed out.


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