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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Handy sewing hint of the day #8

Closely aligned to pressing is the whole issue of fusible interfacing.

I am a seasoned enough sewer to remember when these first hit the market in a big way - all those terrible fibre/pelon stiff fusibles that bubbled and ruined many a good garment.

Fortunately things have come a long way since then.  I nearly always use fusibles now except for real delicate fabric like silk or silk chiffon (not a large part of my day-to-day wardrobe as you can probably figure out) in which cases I will use a sew-in like silk organza.

Back to fusible.

This is what I use and what I want new sewers to know about fusible interfacings. 

Bear in mind that this is sewing according to Babs and maybe not the last word, or even the first one, in some areas.

1. You want your fusible to move and act like your fabric. So woven fabric needs woven interfacing (as opposed to the pylon, fibre type). Knits need knit interfacing (the stuff that looks like slip material). I personally use Fuse a knit types for knits and source all other interfacing (and sometimes my knit fusibles too, from Pamela's Fashion Supply here. IMO opinion no better interfacing anywhere, very professional quality. Trust me on this I. I am actually an old sewer and have used everything that doesn't work out there.

2. The hot glue element of fusing means that the process will add some heft during fusing that you are not going to detect in your hand. Rule of thumb- always use a fusible that is lighter in weight than the fabric you are fusing it to. You don't want your interfacing to change the hand of the fabric, or to overwhelm it. Otherwise you might get this look- collars and details are too stiff and don't lie flat on the body or the garment:

3. Unless you are using an interfacing, like listed above, that do not need to be pre-shrunk, and your fabric is pre-shrunk as it should be, put your interfacing in hot water and hang it to dry. You don't want your interfacing shrinking and pulling in your fabric after the first wash.

4. O.K. now what you really want to know. How do you keep it from bubbling or rippling?

Thing to think about is what is actually working when you fuse. 

The glue, either dots or a film, on the fusible side is there to be melted by heat. Once it starts melting it attaches the two fabric layers, your garment fabric and the interfacing together, and when it cools that fuse becomes solid.

The take-away here is, no matter what else you do, once you have the heat (and maybe steam too - check the instructions for your particular product, some too require real pressure again with the products from Fashion Supply) into the fabric/interfacing- don't move anything until you let it all cool down and set. 

Moving around your iron, or moving the fabric while it is still warm and setting, you are just building in wrinkles and bubbles. Oh and by the way use a thin pressing cloth to protect your iron.  And if you get glue on the iron just let it warm up and scrape it off with a wooden spoon.

Make sense?

5. I do most of my interfacing pressing with the interfacing layer on the underside and the fabric on top. This actually places the glue layer so it is drawn into the fabric by the heat and not just melted over it.


Ginger said...

When you say pressure do you use a heat press or an iron and your muscles? Thanks for the upside down fusing tip I'm going to give that a try.

velosewer said...

on point 5: that makes sense.

sunnlitt said...

Thanks for the helpful little tutorial.

LinB said...

Will STILL never ever ever use fusibles again. Glad to know you've come to peace with them. I have not.

MaryEllen said...

Thanks for this info as interfacings are soooo confusing !

Scenic Route said...

Great info! I've been sewing as long as you, but still learning (yet another plus of sewing :-) I use fusible stay tapes from Pamela's as they are just so handy. My default interfacing is French Fuse which seems harder to come by these days. Anyhoo, I picked up some tips from this post that I'm going to try

Anonymous said...

Very helpful. Thanks, I love all of your tutorials here.

BeccaA said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I had never thought about using gravity to help the interfacing fuse to the fabric better as in your tip #5. I will try that soon.

BarbaraShowell said...

Loving the tips. I have a question- has the need for straightening the grain on fabric gone away? I remember all the sewing books used to go on about it, how to pull that crosswise thread and then pull and stretch the fabric length till it was all just right. I confess: I always skipped it. Now I haven't heard anyone in the blogosphere mention it. Unnecessary? Of course, I probably STILL wouldn't do it.

Bunny said...

Hve to reply to Barbara S. Many don't mention grain because they may be inexperienced sewists. Gain is sacrosanct. Until you've had twist pants that you've labored to fit, or a garment that came out of the washer and dryer in a different shape, you can't appreciate the importance. And I haven't even mentioned fit or draping issues. There are jeans I can get retail that fit me perfectly. They look wonderful in the store. I buy them. I wear them. I wash them. They twist,k forever I look down and my side seams swing all over. Grain is extremely important and any halfway decent sewing book will say so. It is critical in setting in creases in pants and getting all garment parts to hang best without wrinkles and drag lines. I could obviously go on and on. I think you get my drift. I think a lot of times things aren't mentioned in the SBC because it is taken for granted that people know them. Grain is one of them.

Great tips, Babs. I love Pam's interfacings. If anyone hasn't used hers, trust me, they are not your mother's interfacing.

BarbaraShowell said...

I think I always got away with ignoring straightening the grain because most of my sewing was for ity bitty kids- now I'm starting to sew for me but I'm using mostly knits. Hopefully I'll be compelled to do the work before cutting some nice expensive woven for myself.