Interfacing: 10 tips

For a change of pace, last week I lurked in one of those online chat sessions with an expert from the home sewing side of things. The questions and comments from participants weren’t what I expected; nobody asked any of the kinds of questions I would have. No matter but I did notice that home sewers seem to have a perseveration with interfacing and it just boggles my mind. What’s the deal with interfacing? I counted the questions, fully half of them were about interfacing. Good thing I wasn’t the expert offering advice, I would have gone nuts.

Nobody’s asked but here’s my default advice about interfacing:


1. My default choice in interfacing is that knit fusible stuff. It works great anywhere and on nearly everything.

2. Use more of it, home sewers don’t use enough. Put it this way, manufacturers are cheap-skates so if we’re using a lot more of it, there’s a reason for it.

3. Skip the stay-stitching on necklines and use interfacing instead. Stay stitching only stabilizes a very thin line -that which contains the stitching itself and fusible will stabilize the neckline area, greatly reducing creep when attaching collars and the like.

4. In jackets, you want to fuse the entire fronts. Yes, the entire fronts, no matter how heavy the material is. Also fuse the back neck shoulder neckline and armholes. Fuse all hems (sleeves included; that was in the bagging tutorials). If you doubt that professionally manufactured garments are made in this manner, you obviously have never disassembled a suit coat. Buy one at a thrift store and take it apart.

5. Fuse all outside edges. If you’re making a vest for example, you’d fuse all armholes, vest edges and center fronts. It makes a dramatic difference. All facings -always- should be fused as well.

6. When you’re fusing a line that will be folded -say a hem, or a vent- your fusible should cross the fold line. Do not -I repeat- do not have the interfacing end right at the fold line (which is what’s done in home sewing patterns). Extending the fusible one half inch beyond the fold line will extend the life of a garment. If you don’t extend the fusible and you fail to line up the fusible with the fold line exactly, it can throw off your fold line as I’m sure you’ve noticed. A fold in fabric is a stressed region, cushion it for longer life.

7. You should fuse the zipper inset areas (again, use that wonderful tricot-knit fusible).

8. You should fuse the areas where pockets are mounted on garments. Fusible should extend at least a half-inch beyond the finished boundaries of pockets.

9. Manufacturers fuse leather and you should too. We iron leather all the time and you can too. The leather police will not come and get you for this.

10. When making your fusible pattern pieces (required for production patterns), they should not be the exact dimensions of the pattern piece upon which they’re placed. Trace the shape exactly, then trim off 1/8 of an inch all the way around. This will help to stagger the seams allowing them to lie flatter. Plus, any off-set fusible pieces having become askew will not obscure the actual seam depth.

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