Fusible Interfacing

on Oct 27, 2008 in Sewing | 54 comments

I use a lot of fusible interfacing around here. Bolts of it. Interfacing adds structure and definition to projects that would otherwise look like limp noodles. It gives a project durability and a sprinkle of the good part of ready made . Proper interfacing and good pressing is a sure-fire method of adding a professional, finished look to a project.

Below are my thoughts on interfacing and pictures of how I do it. It’s a little goofy. I’ve never actually seen anyone do it this way so go easy on me. Please add your tips to the discussion!

Random thoughts on fusible interfacing:

  • For general purpose projects like purses or a project that needs some structure, I use a featherweight to mid-weight interfacing. Pellon is what I’ve purchased for years and it works for me. I haven’t done much experimenting with brands so I can’t comment on differences. Before I could buy wholesale I’d always stock up with my Jo-Ann’s 40% off coupon. “Yes, 15 yards. Yes, I realize that’s a lot.”
  • The lighter the interfacing the more original drape the fabric retains. This is generally a good thing for my aesthetic eye. I get structure without completely sacrificing the hand of the cloth.
  • On a purse I like to apply the interfacing to the lining of the bag. Fusible interfacing invariably leaves its mark on the fabric. Applying it to the lining gives structure to the bag from the inside out.
  • I like using heavier fabrics for the exterior of a project so I don’t have to interface them. Again, it’s all about the drape. Make the insides stiff but let the outside be ‘free’ to be who it be.
  • I always take the interfacing strategy into consideration when I design a project.
  • Fusible vs. sew-in. Sew in is a good strategy to preserve the drape of the fabric but still add some structure. When working with quilting cottons I find the fabric still ends up too limp. I like the extra stability created by actually fusing the interfacing to the fabric.
  • Cutting the interfacing the same size as the fabric or trimming away the seam allowance? I do both depending on the desired result. If you’ve made the Mail Sack you’ll notice I cut the interfacing the full size of the fabric. The same as you’ll see in the following pictures. That is intentional. Interfacing the seam allowance of the bag lining gives it a very stiff internal structure. Exactly what we want inside the bag. If you visualize that interfaced seam allowance there’s two extra layers around that outer seam giving a nice shape to the draping exterior fabric. On the Note Taker, the cutting instructions trim the seam allowance off the interfacing. The reason for this is bulk. If the interfacing ran all the way to the edge of the fabric those extra layers would prevent a nice even turned edge. Especially in the tight corners. It would also create way too many layers to reasonably topstitch over.

OK, now for my fusing approach.

The supplies: plain water, iron set to high cotton steam setting, and a homemade pressing cloth (one big square of cheap white cotton, the cheaper and thinner the better).

First layer is the fabric, right side down. Give it a good once over for loose threads. It drives me crazy when I spot a loose thread caught between the fabric and the interfacing:

Place interfacing, fusible gunk down against the wrong side of the fabric:

Third layer is the very cheap white cotton fabric square. I cut mine big enough to cover just about any project 100%. It saves time to be able to do all this in a single run through:

Take the spray bottle full of water and wet down your pressing cloth. This is the part I’ve never seen anyone do this way. I used to run back and forth between the sink and my ironing board. Completely saturating the cloth, wringing it out in the sink and then coming back and placing it on my layers. The spray bottle allows me to just wet the area directly over the fabric and interfacing:

Press with the iron. Don’t slide it back and forth. Just press it in a single location until the pressing cloth is dry. Move the iron over to the next area and repeat until the entire surface is fused. Enjoy the zen of fusible interfacing while watching the birds outside and listening to a book on tape:

Pull off the completely dry pressing cloth. Flip the project over so the right side of the fabric is facing up. Press from the top to even out any bubbling. Try not to notice threads caught between the layers 🙂

Move the parts to a work area for a complete cool down:

Additional thoughts based on the comments:

  • Woven vs. Non-woven. I use a lot of woven when making clothes (which has been awhile!). Matching the correct weight woven (non-fusible) with your fashion fabric results in a professional looking finish because the weave of the woven interfacing ‘moves’ with your fabric. I dislike using fusible for clothing because of the bubbling that invariably occurs after washing.
  • Tracey’s comment about a dry iron vs. a damp pressing cloth. Pellon recommends the wet pressing cloth method. I know there are some fusible interfacings that recommend a dry iron. I have never had success with getting the dry iron fusibles to work for me. I do use a dry iron for fusible Peltex (Pellon’s version of Timtex often used for ATCs) and fusible fleece.

Bubbly results. Janet mentions the dreaded bubble texture in her comment. I could write a post just about the bubbles. A few things I think reduces the bubbles:

  1. I like to pre-wash quilting cottons before using them in a project, especially if I’m going to apply interfacing. When I make Mail Sacks I always pre-wash and dry in the dryer the lining fabric and any quilting cottons I use on the exterior. I do not pre-wash the non-interfaced linens or home decor cottons I use on the outside of the bag. That’s probably controversial but I just like the finish on those fabrics and I generally never wash a bag after I make it (just spot clean them).
  2. I like using the method I’ve just shared above because I think it completely fuses the interfacing to the fabric. If the fusing is half-baked it results in little pockets all over the fabric where the interfacing is not attached. Bubble trouble.
  3. After fusing always flip the the piece over and press well from the top side. This should catch any air pockets that may be left.
  4. If you’re having poor results in getting the interfacing to fuse to your fabric it may be the brand of interfacing you’re using. It’s definitely worth the effort to experiment with a different brand. I’ve had products that I threw away because they just wouldn’t stick.


    Jen of Blue Yonder Design answered my plea for help last week (thanks again Jen!). The good news is she got the blog moved off of Yahoo and over to my nice, super fast computer at Host Gator. LOVE the upgraded WordPress to boot. Bloglines wasn’t too happy about the move. It refuses to recognize my feeds anymore. From the feedback you all gave me over the weekend, every other RSS feed reader operating in the world is picking up my posts. When and if Bloglines will start working again is anyone’s guess. I’m not holding my breath.