Can You Use Hem Tape on Polyester?
The short answer is yes. You can use hem tape on many polyester fabrics. But how well or how long it will last depends on several factors.
The first consideration is how heat-resistant the material is. Permanent hem tape requires a medium to medium-high iron setting. If your fabric melts at that setting, don’t try to use permanent hem tape on it.
If you are looking for a quick fix, there are temporary peel and stick, two-sided hem tapes that will last just until the first washing, when they will likely come apart.
Other possible negatives for using hem tape on polyester are the potential failure of hem tape adhesive adhering to a plastic-based surface and the difficulty of bonding to some textured surfaces.
If you’re hoping to hem with tape, then later add a machine or hand-sewn hem, be aware that some hem tapes are easy to sew through, and others aren’t. Read the hem tape package to learn about its versatility.
How to Use Hem Tape on Polyester
Use fusible hem tape on polyester the same as on other fabrics. Remember to be extra cautious about iron settings. Test the iron on a scrap if possible.
- Pre-wash fabric or garment
Before hemming with tape, wash any new garment. The hem tape will adhere better, and there will be less danger of crinkling from uneven shrinkage.
- Place material wrong-side out
Whether you’re hemming a garment or other home decor, you’ll need to turn the fabric with the wrong side facing upward.
- Measure and cut
Measure the length you’ll need and cut the tape accordingly.
- Press hem
Measure and turn up the amount of hem you need. Since polyester doesn’t fray, there’s no need for a double fold. Press the hem flat. Some polyesters are not very cooperative when it comes to ironing. If this is the case, pin close to the folded edge, leaving the top of the hem unencumbered.
- Place hem tape
Open the fold and place the hem tape between the layers. It should be as close to the hem’s top as possible without showing.
Preheat the iron to the recommended heat and begin pressing. Press down one area at a time, then raise the iron and move it to the next area. Do not run the iron along the fabric as in regular ironing. Do not leave the iron in one place too long, or you may melt the material.
Let the tape cool a bit, then flick lightly along the top of the hem to make sure the tape has completely bonded. Re-press any loose areas.
Once the tape is well bonded, turn the garment right-side out and lightly press that side as necessary for a neat, professional finish.
- Let tape cool
Let the tape cool completely before wearing the garment or using the home decor. Otherwise, the tape may pull away from the fabric. The danger is especially true for polyester or other man-made fibers that don’t adhere easily to tape.
How Long Will It Last?
Although hem tape is touted as permanent, it may not last as long on polyester fabrics. Temporary tape may not survive one washing. But several factors can determine the duration of a fusible-taped hem.
Using a high-quality hem tape is a definite plus with knit materials. Differing widths are available. Use as wide a tape as you safely can to provide extra adhered space. Outus brand has good reviews, as does Heat-n-Bond Soft Stretch. There is also a Heat-n-Bond Ultra Hold for heavier or textured materials.
How often the garment is washed is another determining factor. Hang drying is preferable to submitting fusible hem tape to the heat of machine drying.
Using a mild detergent can also extend the life of a fusible hem. In fact, if the hem does come out, rubbing laundry detergent into adhesive residue is one way to remove it.
It’s impossible to predict how long hem tape will last on polyester fabrics. It’s simply more challenging for the tape to hold onto the fibers. You can expect the bond to hold through around half a dozen washings with care. Then it may be time to use a needle and thread for a permanent fix.
What Adhesives to Avoid
Any adhesives that are not designed for fabrics should not be used for hems. They may seep through and leave a stain or simply not hold during use. This includes super glue or paper glue
Stitch Witchery doesn’t work well for polyester materials. It resists adhering and just generally makes a big mess. Also, Stitch Witchery can stiffen fabric if applied too thickly.