How Do Fusible Interfacing and Sewn In Interfacing differ?

Fusible Interfacing vs Sew In Interfacing

The difference between fusible interfacing and sewn interfacing is that fusible interfacing has a glue on one side that adheres to the fabric when you heat it with an iron. Therefore, there is no need to sew the interfacing in place.

Sewn interfacing is sewn onto your fabric piece. You cut out an identical piece in the interfacing and then you sew it together to reinforce your pattern piece. Then, these two pieces are sewn into the garment. The sewn interfacing creates stability and durability in the garment.

This is good to know but there is more to fusible and sewn interfacing. In this article you will learn why you use interfacing, the different qualities of sewn and fusible interfacing and the best qualities of fusible and sewn interfacing. In other words, after you read this article, you will know everything there is to know about sewn and fusible interfacing so that you can make the best decision of what type of fusible interfacing to use in your project.

What is Fusible Interfacing

Fusible interfacing is a piece of fabric, usually white and made most commonly from polyester, that has glue dots on one side of the fabric. The glue on this side of the fabric will stick to your material when heat is applied. For example, you cut out a piece of fabric and a piece of interfacing so that they match in size and shape.  Then you take an iron and fuse your two pieces together with the heat of the iron.

Fusible interfacing is good for most fabrics but there are times when fusible interfacing is not appropriate. The following are situations where you would not use fusible interfacing:

  •  Fabrics with a very loose or open weave.  Think of lace or mesh that is so loosely woven, the glue from the interfacing will ooze right through the open weave, leaving messy glue on the right side of the fabric.
  • Textured fabric is also a culprit that won’t adhere securely to fusible interfacing because of the texture. Specifically, textures are usually raised “bumps” on the fabric so there is no way for the fusible interfacing to adhere to the textured fabric properly or smoothly.
  •  Napped fabrics are also difficult because the glue on the fusible interfacing will crush the fabric. Imagine trying to fuse interfacing to a piece of velvet or fur – the results won’t be pretty.
  •  Heat sensitive fabrics like those with sequins, metallics, or vinyl fabric where the heat applied to fuse the interfacing to the fabric will melt the fabric.

What is Sew In Interfacing

Sewn interfacing is sewn onto the fabric instead of glued. There is no glue on the sewn interfacing. Just like in the fusible interfacing procedure, you cut out a duplicate piece of the garment and then instead of applying a hot iron for it to stick together, you just sew the pieces to each other. This is an extra sewing step but it is worth it to get your fabric piece stabilized. When you use sewn interfacing,  there is a lot more natural shaping and drape.

The criteria for choosing sewn interfacing is the ability to sew through several layers of fabric. If you are not ready to sew multiple layers, choose fusible interfacing.

This happened to me in the beginning. The sewn interfacing that I was using was very light so it slipped around on the fabric piece a lot.  I pinned the pieces together but then I was not able to follow the curve of the piece at a 5/8-inch seam. My sewing was crooked along the seams. Consequently, the shape of the piece was totally off and did not really fit the garment anymore. It was a disaster.

Since then, I have gotten better at sewing multiple layers of fabric. I can sew a piece of interfacing perfectly to the pattern piece. But I prefer fusible interfacing because it is just so much easier applying heat to the piece to bond together. There is no worrying about seams.

Why Do You use Interfacing?

If you didn’t use interfacing your garment would not be that stable.  Imagine what a shirt collar would be like without the extra interfacing that is added to the shirt. The collar would be floppy and it would not stand up to wear and tear.

You can also use interfacing with projects to make your material sturdier. For example, you may be making a toy for a child  – let’s say you are making an activity book. The pages of the book are made from light material so it needs to be stabilized with another piece of fabric so that the page is sturdy and you can attach things to it.

What is Interfacing and Why Do You Use It?

Interfacing is a fabric you use to add stability to other fabrics. For example, on a shirt you probably will have interfacing around the collar, buttonholes,  and the cuffs because these are parts of your garment that need to be durable.  

Usually, interfacing is a material that is sold by the yard. When you are cutting out your pattern, you will also cut out a duplicate piece of certain parts of the pattern.  For example, collars or the area around the neckline are usually reinforced with interfacing.

In most sewing situations, your pattern will tell you what type of interfacing to use.  Other times, you will just have to use common sense to match your interfacing to the material you are using. For example, if you are sewing a knit fabric, you would get a knit interfacing of perhaps medium weight.

Interfacing also comes in two colors: black or white. It is up to you what color you are going to use. Generally, white interfacing is used to light to medium colored fabric and black is used with either medium colored or dark fabric colors.

There are two types of interfacing: fusible or sewn-in types. Out of those types there are three main weaves and different weights for the interfacing. You could buy non-woven, woven and knit interfacing. Interfacing can also match the weight of  your fabric and be  light, medium, or heavy weight.

Six Different Types of Interfacing

Sewn interfacing and fusible interfacing are part of six different types of interfacing. These are the six types:

Woven Interfacing  

Woven interfacing is woven and has a stretch in the bias. It is similar to any woven fabric. Think “tight” weave in the material versus a non-woven interfacing that has no weave.

Non-Woven Interfacing

This is an interfacing that is bonded and a lot like paper. It does not have a woven texture. In fact, it’s texture is smooth like paper. There is no bias or stretch to non-woven interfacing.

Knit Interfacing

Knit interfacing is an interfacing that is woven loosely like knit fabric. It has a stretch that is compatible with any knit fabric. You would not use this interfacing with a fabric that does not stretch.

Fusible Interfacing

Fusible interfacing has a glue on one side that bonds with fabric. The glue is activated by the heat of an iron. This type of interfacing comes in both woven and non-woven types.

Non-fusible Interfacing (Sewn Interfacing) 

This type of interfacing also comes in woven or non-woven materials but it does not have a glue on one side. Instead, one has to sew the interfacing in place.

Double Sided Fusible

This type of interfacing has glue on both sides and can adhere to fabric. A use for this type of interfacing is to sew appliques onto a project. One side adheres to the back of an applique and the other side adheres the applique to the project.

The Challenging Qualities of Fusible Interfacing

You would think that fusible interfacing is the perfect thing to work with because you don’t have to sew it at all. You just cut out the fusible interfacing to match your pattern piece and you take out an iron and you fuse those two pieces together. Easy enough, but is it?

One of the downfalls of fusible interfacing is that it is so sticky. I’ve been in situations where I am ironing the fusible interfacing on and it folds on me and sticks to the wrong piece of fabric or worse, it doesn’t go on straight. When this happens, you need to start all over again. And that means cutting out another pattern piece and another piece of matching fusible interfacing.

If it had been a sewn interfacing, this would not have happened and if it did, all I would need to do is pick out the stitches and start over on the same piece.

Another challenge of fusible interfacing is sometimes it can change the fabric from being soft and flexible to too stiff. Yes, the whole purpose of interfacing is to add some body to the pattern piece but there is such a thing as too stiff.

The Challenges of Sewn Interfacing

Non- fusible interfacing is basted on to the fabric so it is easy to remove if there is some kind of mistake. However, there is an extra step if you make a mistake because it is not glued on to the fabric, you have to pick out the stitches, sew the interfacing, and garment piece back together. Also, if you do not place the interfacing just right, it will wrinkle when the interfacing and fabric are sewn together.

So, the biggest challenge for using sewn interfacing is that if not sewn perfectly, you have to start over by picking out the stitches and sewing it all over. However, sometimes the piece is ruined and you have to cut out another piece of sewn interfacing and the garment and start all over again.

The Best Uses of Fusible Interfacing

Fusible interfacing is very popular because it has glue that adheres to the fabric. Some people like the fact that once it is on, it doesn’t move so there is less chance for wrinkles. Fusible interfacing is really great to use with appliques or other projects where you don’t want to sew.

Also, tricky pieces in odd or tiny shapes can be fused together more easily than sewn into place.

The Best Uses for Sewn Interfacing

Sewing interface is good for delicate garments especially if you use a material like organza for the interfacing. You will find sewn interfacing on delicate fabrics because it can be more flexible than fusible interfacing that is glued on to the fabric. Also, these pieces of delicate fabric often melt if heat is applied so fusible interfacing is out of the question.

How to Apply Interfacing

Are you curious about how to apply interfacing to your project or garment piece? Here are the steps you usually take to apply the interfacing.

  1. Pre-wash your interfacing and the fabric so that it shrinks. IT would be unfortunate if the interfacing shrunk more than the fabric shrinks. This would cause wrinkles in the garment at the place of the interfacing.  Don’t throw the interfacing in a washer, simply soak it in cold water for a short time.
  2. Test the interfacing on a piece of scrap fabric from your project to see if it has the stability and feel that one needs.
  3. If using non-fusible interfacing, stitch into place with a basting stitch that will be taken out after the project is sewn.
  4. For fusible interfacing – make sure to apply the shiny side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure you have your iron at the correct temperature for fusing the interfacing onto the fabric of the project. Use a presser cloth on top of what you are fusing so that the interfacing does not stick to the iron.

Notable Brands of Interfacing

Here are a few notable brands of interfacing that you will see sold at fabric stores.

Peltex – an interfacing usually used for crafts, quilting and home decorating.

Decorbon 809 – a very crisp interfacing

Shapeflex 101 – a woven interfacing

Fuse N Shape – double sided firm interfacing

Deco fuse 520 – a thin interfacing that does provide a stiffness and stability to a fabric

Fusible fleece – this interfacing is often used as a lining. It is very soft.

Organza – this is a fabric and not an interfacing but it is used when sewing a very delicate project or garment. It is very light and fine. IT is not fusible and needs to be sewn in.

Common Uses of Interfacing

Garments – gives support, stability, and shape to garments. It is often used for collars, cuffs, and button plackets.

Purse-making – clutches, bags and purses benefit from the stability of an interfacing to make them stiff and sturdy.

Quilting – interfacing often used to give the quilt some weight and warmth.

Now that you know all about interfacing you are good to go. I wish you luck in choosing an interfacing that is right for you.

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