As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to each technique. Besides learning some lessons that I can pass on as caution signs for you, I also learned a few tricks you may find beneficial.
GENERAL TIPS WITH ADHESIVES
1. Probably the worst problem is to clean adhesives from fabric. We all hope that occasion will never arise. If you are a person like me who can't paint woodwork without covering myself in paint, be careful with your choice of adhesives. Choose those methods of application with the least chance of errors. After all, it takes a lot of time to clean up mistakes—if they can be cleaned up—and no one wants to endure the mental anguish!
If you have to remove an adhesive, first call the manufacturer or distributor from whom you purchased the product. If they can't help, then try the following suggestions on a piece of scrap fabric first.
• If it's hot glue, don't touch it. Let it cool and it should scrape off.
• Scrape with a dull knife.
• Apply acetone.
• Apply alcohol.
• Lay a scrap of absorbent fabric or doubled paper towel on the adhesive and heat with a hot iron. The scrap might absorb the excess.
• Wet fabric scrap with Oops!—available at Wal-Mart—and rub over adhesive until it balls up.
2. Know if you can sew through it, as it might become necessary.
3. If it's necessary to apply trim to shapes, it's better to apply glues to the shape first; but it's better to apply iron-ons to the trim first.
4. Do not iron/steam over adhesives that weren't meant to be ironed without testing first. They may seep through the fabric or trim and discolor it.
5. Consider the time needed to apply the adhesive. The Beacon's Liqui Fuse passed all three categories of cleaning, which would give it an outstanding rating. However it has two drawbacks. It is a glue you apply first, cover with a press cloth, then set a dry, hot iron on for 40 to 50 seconds. It requires two steps of gluing and ironing, and it takes much more time to iron than any other iron-on product. I also found that dry heat was not enough to set it, and I had to resort to steam, which finally worked. The manufacturer says, "(Liqui Fuse) is one of the only true adhesives on the market today that will not dissolve or weaken in perchloroethylene (the dry cleaning solvent)." That dry cleaning method is stronger than what my dry cleaner uses. Therefore, if dry-cleaning is essential, this product may be worth the time involved.
6. Use a boiler iron if the manufacturer says so. Adhering will take less time and there will be less shrinkage.
7. Test all adhesives with your particular trim first! There are some trims that will be discolored by adhesives.
8. Pre-steam fabric and trims first to try to remove or reduce finishes that may repel the adhesives.
9. Always check to be sure you have enough trim before you start a job. If you are a little short, some of the iron-on products will enable you to stretch the trim and apply it without puckering the fabric to which it is being adhered.
10. The neatest trick I discovered was to use a wallpaper seam roller, about 1 1/8-inch wide, to roll over trims after adhering. This was especially good with the millennium tape, hot glue and regular glues. If you use the roller, don't use too much glue as it may soak through and stain or get on the roller. Also, be sure the glue is a bit tacky when you apply it (Rowley's Fringe Adhesive was great!). If it isn't, the trim will slide and not just press down in place.
11. Always check after the adhesive is dry and cool to be sure you have good adhesion. You may very likely find a spot here and there that needs to be done over.
1. Waiting for glue to dry can be a real nuisance and time waster if you have no place to put the product so it's not in your way while drying. Plan well to avoid wasting time.
2. Glues can be messy and getting just the right amount so it doesn't seep out the edges takes a little practice.
1. They are hot! Press your trim and/or fabric together with something besides your fingers!
2. Depending upon your glue, you might be able to do only a few inches at a time as it will harden too quickly.
3. Strings of glue can be a problem because of the time it takes to remove them. Try sliding the glue gun along the fabric or trim to disconnect the glue from the tip.
4. Rowley's glue gun and glue didn't drip like my old one had done and the glue cools quickly. The company also offers smaller tips for finer work.
5. Don't iron over anything that has been hot glued. It may cause the glue to soak through and stain.
IRON-ONS AND DOUBLE STICK TAPE
1. Paper on tapes and fusibles are a real asset. Even though the paper requires you to adhere the tape to one surface, peel the paper, and then adhere the tape to the other surface, I still believe it was less time consuming than having no paper. One tape had no paper and it was very difficult to hold everything together where it was supposed to be and iron it, too. I was so afraid I was going to iron my fingers.
2. Use the correct width of tape for your project. It is extremely time consuming to trim tapes down to size, especially the millennium tape. I have found the most common size for me to use is 3/8- or 1/2-inch. If you use a lot of different widths, then stock the correct sizes.
3. The millennium tape was very sticky and, as a result, is hard to work with as it sticks to your hands. It seemed best to adhere it to the fabric surface first, then apply the trim on top of it. Be careful not to let anything stick to it in the wrong place! If you must cut the tape, spray silicone on your scissors and cut with the paper side up.
4. Always preshrink fabrics for iron-on products.
Again, I encourage you to try various methods of adhesives and give them a fair trial. Don't just use them one time and decide you don't like them. Use them two or three times and try to be aware of how you can use these tips to shorten the time required to use them. Always be conscious of your time. And if you have a problem with an adhesive, call the manufacturer or your vendor. If they can't help you, they need to know the problems you're having in order to make their products better!
When using adhesives, you have to be concerned with three things: speed of application, whether the project needs to be cleaned, and the finished look! Your concern for these things and your willingness to always look for a better way is what makes you a professional custom drapery fabricator. So go ahead. Explore and excel!
Kitty Stein, WCAA, is a 20-year veteran of the drapery workroom field, having owned and operated her own business for 18 years and having taught classes on window treatment construction. Until 1990, Stein and a partner owned a workroom with nine employees. She since has opened her own smaller workroom, Workroom Concepts, that has just one employee. She also does workroom consulting, seminar speaking and is the author of Order in the Workroom available through Draperies & Window Coverings.