Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Sewing Tip: Fusible Interfacing Shortcuts

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks frantically sewing some custom cheer uniforms for a local football team’s dancers. It was a lot of crazy detail work in the end and I’m just glad it’s over now. (Thank you to all my new Twitter friends for “cheering” me on during this project!)

During the uniform madness, I did manage to take a few pictures and mentally note some sewing tips I have for interfacing.

Before I continue with my shortcuts, let me just point out that this is NOT a post about which type of interfacing is best for different types of fabrics. That would require a whole post or two on just that topic and there would still be experimenting required for each individual project.

If you really want a good overview and chart about interfacing, my favorite go-to sewing book is Vogue Sewing. It is for sewing what The Joy of Cooking cookbook is for cooking, and includes information about all the sewing basics you would probably ever want to reference. If you want just one sewing reference book on your shelf, it is the one I would recommend.

That being said, I do have some interfacing tips, especially if you are making cuffs and collars.

If you’ve ever followed the instructions included with a sewing pattern, you’ve probably cut your fabric and interfacing separately using the pattern pieces. And then, you’ve probably had the fun task of trying to line up the two in order to fuse the pieces together.

And the edges of the two layers always shift around don’t they? Super annoying.

There are two ways to prevent the shifting and fusing frustration.

One way is to cut only the interfacing pieces using your pattern. Then you fuse those to your yardage of fabric and then cut your fabric around the fused interfacing. This works best with the non-woven or non-knit interfacings because they hold their cut shape better.

The second way is to block-fuse (or pre-fuse) large strips of interfacing to your fabric before cutting either of them with your pattern, essentially creating a large piece of backed fabric.

I had 11 collars and 22 cuffs to make for the cheer uniforms, so I took it one step further. Not only did I block-fuse my interfacing, I traced my cuffs and collar pieces directly onto the interfacing using a pencil.

I did not include seam allowance on my pattern pieces, so the pencil line was my actual stitch line. This meant I was able to rough cut my pieces without measuring any seam allowances and then stitch directly on my pencil lines.

Cuffs were traced on the pre-fused interfacing and then roughly cut out and pinned back to back with another unmarked piece of pre-interfaced fabric.

After stitching, I trimmed my seam allowances down and clipped the curves.

This was the first curve I clipped and I was so tired that I goofed – I didn’t need to cut V’s around a curve going this direction. I made the others by just cutting single clips once I realized my mistake.

Then I ironed all my seams open with the help of my point presser with clapper to make turning easier and to insure crisp edges.

Ironing seams open with the point presser.

I followed the same steps for the collars with only one difference because I clean finished both the inside and the outside of the Mandarin style collar. (For this project, I chose not to finish my cuffs in this way mainly because of bulk & the need for speed.)

Before stitching the front to the back, I basted the bottom edge of the collar on the stitchline and pressed it up. This makes it easier to attach to the neckline later because one half is already neatly turned inward.

Bottom seam basted and pressed up on half of the collar
before both layers are stitched together.

And after I made my pile of cuffs and collars (oops! forgot to take a photo of the pile), I was able to attach them to all the uniforms.

One uniform top with cuffs & collar attached.

And one last interfacing tip. There’s a really easy way to clean any fusing residue off your iron. Grab a used dryer sheet from your laundry room and simply iron over it a few times. It should remove any glue & stickiness left on your iron and it will smell like clean laundry. =)

If you ever have a sewing dilemma, feel free to leave a comment, ask me by email or find me on Twitter – I’d love to help out if I can!

14 responses to “Sewing Tip: Fusible Interfacing Shortcuts

  1. Leila February 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Great tips! I’m a rough cutter so those stitching lines are always so helpful for me. I do love my double tracing wheel. It helps but I still rough cut. And this block fusing is such a great idea for so many applications. Thanks!

  2. Lorinda Jones February 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks for the collar/cuff interfacing tips. This should make it much easier to make the points crisp and exactly the same size instead of that slightly less than an 8th of an inch difference that has always plaged me.

  3. Karen February 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    It’s always interesting to see how you handle different construction techniques. I rarely use fusible interfacing, but these are great tips to remember for when I do. Looks like you are sewing on a lot of buttons with this project!

    • Brooke February 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      I seem to use interfacing most when doing something “costumey”. And then there’s the occasional collar.

      Gah buttons! There were 22 on EACH uniform! Luckily, they weren’t functioning and only decoration. I don’t want to make anything with buttons for a while.

  4. Gjeometry February 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Ahhhh, fuse BEFORE you cut fabric! Brilliant. Did not think of this.

    • Brooke February 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

      I didn’t either until my first job in a costume shop – we had to make a large amount of period collars (the kind that are separate from the shirt) and we fused first. =)

  5. laurahoj February 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing these tips. I will remember these!

  6. Cation Designs February 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Brilliant! And those uniforms look…not so fun to sew. Way to power through and give us some tips in the process, too!

    • Brooke February 25, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      They were definitely less fun the longer I worked on them. So many little pieces and details. Hope the tips will be useful to you in your future projects! =)

  7. joanne January 9, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Just stopped to say how gorgeous your uniforms are. You are one heck of a seamstress. Beautiful!

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