You grab one of your favorite dress shirts and see unsightly bubbles along the collar. Bubbles only occur on fused shirt collars when the interfacing, which is the stiffening material sewn or bonded onto the underside of a fabric, starts to separate from the shell fabric. By following the manufacturer's care instructions for your shirts, you can prevent your collars from bubbling and wrinkling after laundering.
To Fuse or Not to Fuse
Interfacing is a material bonded or sewn onto the underside of a fabric that strengthens, stiffens and provides shape. Interfacing is used in two types of shirt collars: traditional and fused. A traditional collar either has no interfacing or the interfacing is sewn into the collar, creating a more relaxed look. A fused collar has interfacing heat pressed and bonded to the fabric to make the collar stiff. A fused collar, being more rigid and resistant to deformation, is generally more desirable in dress and business shirts.
Causes of Wrinkled and Bubbling Collars
Usually, the bubbles only appear after several washings and are either the result of a poor bonding of the interface material during manufacturing or the age of the garment. Before accusing your dry cleaner of ruining your shirt, understand that most of the time, the bubbles are a result of poor adhesion during the heat press portion of manufacturing.
Bubbled Collar Fixes
Unfortunately, there is not a good fix for this problem. Depending on where the shirt was purchased and how long ago, you might be able to return it as long as you followed the care instructions. Alternatively, if the bubbles are only showing on one side, a tailor can flip the collar.
How to Protect your Collar
Avoid exposing your shirt to temperatures higher than 150 degrees F. This is frequently the temperature at which the interfacing will start to de-bond. When shopping for a new shirt, check the collar first for bubbles or wrinkles to save yourself a lot of headache before laying down a single dollar.