What is fusible interfacing? Fusible interfacing has glue on one (or sometimes both) sides that is activated with a hot iron and allows to adhere directly to the fabric. The glue side is either shiny or bumpy. It will usually come with instructions about how hot the iron should be, how long you should press and whether or not you should use steam. Always read the directions the first time, but I’m also going to tell you that it’s OK to ignore them once you learn what technique works best for you!
How do I fuse it? Fusing technique is something you should practice. When fusing the SF101 I press right on the back of the interfacing (glue down, obviously) so that I can line it up and then press right down on top of the interfacing. I’ve been doing this forever and I promise it’s OK to do but ONLY with the SF101. If I’m using a non-woven, I line everything up and then either cover with a press cloth or flip it over and press on the right side of the fabric (use caution if you flip it… it’s probably a bad technique!) I press down and then lift it up and press down in a different spot. Once it is all gently fused, I steam it like crazy, especially from the front (right) side (again, this may not be the best idea but it works for me!). Do not move the iron from side to side while pressing down hard like you iron clothes or you will get wrinkles in the interfacing. Either use very light pressure or be sure to PICK UP the iron and move it over. You can buy a fancy press cloth but I just use an piece of ugly fabric, about fat quarter size. Using a press cloth helps make sure you don’t get the glue on your iron, but it also makes it harder to see your fabric. Do whatever makes you happy, there are no rules. :)
Why use fusible interfacing? Fusible interfacing adds stiffness and thickness to your fabric. It also makes it easier to sew. Fused fabric glides under the presser foot more evenly and doesn’t stretch as much. It helps stabilize the fabric so that stitches don’t pull through, especially on stress points like pockets. It is important to make sure that your bags and wallets have the proper structure, especially when using quilting cotton as your main fabric. Interfacing is what helps your bag will stand up on it’s own. It allows you to take popular cotton prints and make something you could otherwise only make out of canvas or a heavier material.
I use fusible interfacing on almost every project, usually inside and out. My favorites are Pellon SF101 (a fusible woven) and Fusible Midweight and Fusible Sheerweight (two fusible non-wovens).
If I need more thickness than just two layers of fusible (outside and lining) I will typically add batting, fleece or sew-in interfacing.
Which interfacing should I choose? This is a tough question. My friend April has recently started sewing (and she is doing a great job!) and she has had to tackle the confusing world of interfacing. I gathered up some samples from my stash for her, which made me kind of look back at all of the interfacing I’ve accumulated. The best way to get familiar with interfacing is to use it, so I highly recommend everyone take a handful of coupons to the Big Big Craft Store and buy a half yard of everything, just be sure to label it so you remember which is which when deciding what you like and don’t like. Having a big stash means you can just pick one and try it! Sometimes patterns will specifically ask for certain types of interfacing, but I’m telling you now that once you start using it you will learn what your own personal preferences are and it is OK to ignore those directions if you don’t agree with them :) It’s your project, do whatever you want!
Common Types of Fusible interfacing
Pellon 906F Fusible Sheerweight – Very thin and good for stabilizing when you don’t want to add bulk. I use this sometimes on pockets or linings (especially the linings of pockets). My typical use for this would be SF101 on the outside fabric, batting in the middle and the 906F on the lining of the pocket. It’s also great to use on the main fabric panels of a bag before quilting, so that the fabric doesn’t stretch out. I usually keep a couple yards of this around since it’s relatively inexpensive.
Pellon 931TD Fusible Midweight – OK first, why TD? No idea. Anyway, this one is certainly “medium”. It’s an adequate non-woven substitute for SF101. This is a good option for pockets or anything flat. It is certainly stash worthy.
Pellon SF101 – Finally we get to my favorite! The SF stands for Shape Flex. SF101 is woven, which means it will drape and move in a similar way to the fabric. SF101 does have a grain and cross-grain, so the same rules that apply to fabric apply to this interfacing (unless you are using scraps on tiny pieces and pockets, then it’s fine to go against the grain – just make sure you cut along the grain for straps and main panels.) I use this on the outside fabric for almost every project. It about doubles the thickness of the fabric, so you have to be careful not to use it on too many layers. What I normally do is cut it a bit smaller than the fabric, so that it reduces the bulk in the seams. It fuses nicely and in my experience, does not wrinkle. You do, however, have to pre-shrink it. Here are the instructions as seen on the mini bolt package. I usually cut two yards, fold it and soak it in warm water in the sink for a few minutes, then hang it over the shower curtain rod and let it drip dry. I buy SF101 by the bolt or mini bolt.
Fusible Tricot – This is a fusible for knits. It’s very popular for T-Shirt quilts. I don’t have experience with it, but I recently bought some and I’ll try it soon.
Pellon 809 Decor Bond – Decor bond is really stiff. I try not to use it because it wrinkles really easily. It fuses flat, but as soon as you turn the bag is wrinkles like crazy and unless you can re-press your project flat all the time, it will drive you crazy. Well, maybe not you. It will drive ME crazy. This product is very popular with designers because it really does allow bags to stand up on their own while empty, especially if combined with batting, but there are other ways to do it (use sew-in Pellon 30, 40 or 50 instead, paired with SF101). I also think it’s an unnatural stiffness. If you need your fabric to look like cardboard, use Pellon Peltex. Anyway, because of the wrinkle factor and the odd stiffness, I would only consider using decor bond on the LINING and only if I was making something like a fabric box or basket. Sorry Decor Bond, I’m just not a fan.
Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece – Another super popular product. I’m not a fan and I realize I may be the only one who hates FF. FF is poly fleece, but it’s nothing like polar fleece so don’t try to substitute that. 987F is very commonly recommended in bag patterns. I say it’s not worth the convenience of the fusible. I’ve tried it alone and fused behind a layer of SF101 and both had the same result of dimples and wrinkles of the fabric. I would suggest either substituting Pellon 988 which is the sister sew-in product, plus SF101. You could also substitute cotton batting. Typically, just adding pockets on the outside is enough to “quilt” the batting, which usually only needs to be quilted 10 inches apart. If you *really* want that puffy, quilted bag look but don’t want to do any quilting, I would suggest using 987F on the lining side.
Here is a bag I made a while back and used a dozen or so times. Check out those wrinkles! This is AFTER trying to re-press it, too. Note how the pockets have fewer wrinkles? There’s no FF on the outside fabric because it’s fused to the back side of the pocket linings.
Seriously, click and magnify this pic:
Sewable Fusible Web (Heat & Bond Lite, Steam a Seam Lite) – These are applique products. They are basically *just the glue* part of fusible interfacing. You draw your design on the paper and cut out a piece larger than your design, press it onto the fabric to apply the glue, cut out the shape, peel back the paper and then press your shape onto the main fabric. The glue adheres to both fabrics and seals the edges and then you go back and sew around the outside with a zig-zag, satin or blanket stitch to secure it. Applique is tons of fun, so definitely try it! Just be sure to get the SEWABLE versions of these products. They also make no-sew versions that would not be very nice to your machine or needle should you try to sew through them.
Peltex has two fusible versions (71F single sided fusible and 72F double sided fusible.) I prefer sew-in Peltex and I’ll get to that in the next post. Did I get everything else? I know there is Craft Fuse but my experience with it was similar to Decor Bond. Anything else??
That’s it for now! Next time I’ll talk about sew-in products.