The use of professional iron-on products in a drapery workroom not only will enhance the finished designs by eliminating tension, wrinkles and stitch holes (for example when using blackout lining), but also will dramatically increase productivity and reduce labor costs. These new possibilities open the door to countless design opportunities.
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions:
• "Will a window treatment made with iron-on products hold up over the years?"
• "Do I have to use steam to make them work?"
• "Can I use any kind of material?"
• "What kind of iron do I need to use?"
• "What about humidity and extremely warm temperatures?"
• "Are iron-on products washable and dry cleanable?"
• "Can they be used on sheer materials?"
The Right Balance
First of all, I would like to explain how an iron-on product works. The coating, which is applied to iron-on products, is best compared to honey. When honey is heated, it becomes liquid. The hotter the honey, the thinner it gets. After cooling down, the honey becomes solid again. The same principal applies to the iron-on coating, just in a different temperature range. Once the coating is liquid enough for the fabrics to absorb it; it will penetrate deep into the weave of the materials. As soon as the coating becomes solid again, the two materials are joined, creating a washable, dry cleanable bond.
Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear that the more absorbent a material is, the better the bond will be. Almost all of the fabrics available to the window coverings industry are usable, with the exception of spill-proof tablecloths, shower curtains, waterproofed canvas, etc.
Once the coating is properly applied to the fabric it will stay permanently bonded until it is heated back up to a certain temperature. This particular temperature (the melting point of the coating) is one of the most important factors that makes some of the iron-on products available to the industry work and others not.
If the melting point of a coating is too low, the bonded materials might come apart when exposed to high heat. Always keep in mind that the temperature between the glass window and the window treatment can be significantly higher than in the rest of a room, especially in a window facing south. If the melting point of the coating is too high, it will take too much heat to liquefy it and many fabrics will get damaged in the process of applying iron-on products.
Another important factor determining a successful iron-on product is the amount of coating applied to it. The general thought behind this is the more coating, the better the bond between the individual layers. However, the major concern is that all of the coating needs to be liquefied. Here is where manufacturers of some iron-on products make a trade-off. Realizing that it will take more time or higher temperatures to liquefy a larger amount of coating, they simply reduce the amount of coating they apply to their products. This results in a weak bond, which might come apart.
The iron used to apply the product also plays a very important role in the fusing process. All iron-on products require heat to liquefy the coating—some more and some less. The use of a steam iron speeds up the process of heating the coating because the steam transfers heat directly to the coating between the various layers of materials. The more steam, the faster the coating becomes liquid.
When using an iron-on product designed for professional use (not one for the home market), it is essential to use an iron that produces a continuous amount of steam in order to liquefy all of the coating evenly. Typically, only boiler type steam irons will produce a constant, uninterrupted flow of steam. Even though they produce a much larger amount of steam, some of them work at a significantly lower temperature because the water is heated in the boiler, not in the iron itself. This allows them to be used on even the most delicate fabrics.
The prime concern at döfix is to produce a high-quality, dependable product that will not come apart, even in the long term. More than 25 years of experience has helped us to find the perfect balance between temperature range and the amount of coating on our products, making permanently strong bonds regardless how tough the conditions.
The downside of this philosophy is that we are cutting out the home sewer, limiting our market to the professional drapery manufacturers owning a professional steam iron. This is what makes the difference between döfix and other brands available.
A Product for Every Need
Iron-on products can be divided into several categories: Linings, shade tapes, pleating tapes, production aid tapes and fabric stiffeners.
• Iron-on Linings: The purpose of iron-on linings is to enhance the overall appearance of the fabric. They will add body to even limp materials making them ideal to use in Roman shades, tiebacks and valances. döfix has developed an exclusive microdot coating, which assures a 100 percent even placement of the individual coating particles, resulting in an unparalleled even body.
• Iron-on Shade Tapes: These tapes eliminate the time-consuming need to sew on rings to the back of the shades. The placement of the tapes can be laid out while the material is lying flat on the workroom table. The use of a straightedge and a disappearing ink pen to draw lines onto the lining will assure a perfectly straight and square shade. This is essential for a precise operation. When using blackout lining (regular or iron-on) the use of iron-on tapes will eliminate the light holes that are unavoidable when sewing on rings.
• Iron-on Header Tapes: Iron-on header tapes include shirring, smocking and pleating tapes. Those tapes are used in top treatments and sunbursts. They add a stylish touch to traditional designs.
• Iron-on Production Aid Tapes: This group includes iron-on hook and loop fasteners, gimp and hemming tapes. These are irreplaceable tools used daily in the workroom. The hemming tape is the most common one, being used to finish hems, apply stitchless trim and banding (even mitered), pattern matching and all kinds of odds and ends. döfix customers call it the bread-and-butter tape.
• Iron-on Fabric Stiffeners: Also called soft cornice stiffeners. They enable the workroom to turn even the wildest design into reality. Lightweight, therefore easy to manufacture, transport and install, the stiffeners are sturdy enough to be used for even large soft cornices. Double-side coated stiffeners can be used for three-dimensional appliqués, eye-catching cutout designs or when extra stiffness is needed. Velour lined fabric stiffeners also are used for place mats, table runners and lamp shades.
• Iron-on Specialty Tapes: döfix has designed a line of tapes specifically designed for very sheer materials like burnouts. Code named "K", these tapes have a very light coating and remain softer than the traditional tapes. These special tapes are designed to be ironed on and sewn afterwards. The great advantage of using this technique is that the tapes can be laid out on the workroom table, steamed down very quickly and won't slip or pucker while being sewn because they are adhering to the fabric. The coating is light enough not to gum up the needle of the sewing machine.
After realizing what an iron-on product can do for them, it is my belief that even some of the hard to convince people out there will eventually join the ever growing group of customers stating: "I wish I had discovered this years ago."
Robert Döhlemann is vice president of döfix No•Sew, Inc., Sanford, MI. For more information on iron-on products e-mail Döhlemann at email@example.com or visit www.dofix.com.