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Interfacing 101: Fusible vs. Sew-In The Epic Battle!

At the fabric store, when someone asks for interfacing, the usual first question is, “Fusible or sew-in?”  To help answer this question for yourself, keep reading.
 
To wash or not to wash?
For many garments such as a tailored jacket or a formal gown we don’t need to worry about wash-ability as these garments should be dry-cleaned.  What about shirt collars and cuffs or the waistband on a washable skirt or pair of trousers?  Unfortunately, I’ve experienced some very disappointing results when washing garments that contained fusible interfacing.  This included “bubbling” on the under-collar of a shirt caused by the interfacing shrinking and becoming unattached creating a very bumpy “bubbly” texture.  Thankfully the under-collar doesn’t show when wearing a shirt but I am now always very careful about the interfacing I use in shirts.  I also avoid putting shirts in the dryer and find much better results with regards to how the interfacing performs. 
Most fusible interfacing comes labelled as “pre-shrunk” but many people take the added precaution of pre-washing fusible interfacing.  This must be done very carefully with little agitation to make sure that the adhesive doesn’t wash away.  NEVER put un-adhered interfacing in the dryer.
 
Does fusible vs. sew-in make a difference with regards to durability?
There is a big difference in the durability of various interfacings, but the biggest factor determining the durability is the construction of the interfacing (i.e. woven vs. non-woven) and not whether it’s fusible or sew-in.  Generally non-woven interfacings will not be as durable as they are constructed from loose fibres bonded together as opposed to being spun into yarn and being woven together to create fabric.
 
Ease of Use
Fusible interfacing was invented to save time and if you use it properly it will!  One important factors is the temperature of the iron.  Another is knowing how to properly PRESS it in place.  NEVER slide the iron over the interfacing.  Always PRESS for 5 – 10 seconds and then LIFT the iron and reposition over a new area to be fused.  Sliding the iron over the interfacing could cause major puckering.
One difference between fusible and sew-in interfacing is the fact that fusible interfacing has a right and a wrong side.  If you are creating a garment that is asymmetrical, you need to think carefully when cutting the interfacing, to make sure that the adhesive side of the interfacing faces the “wrong” side or your fabric.
Fusible interfacing can sometimes make a mess on your iron.  If you don’t use a press cloth, the adhesive can seep past the edge of the interfacing when being pressed and stick to your iron.  Also, if you mistakenly touch your iron to the adhesive side of the interfacing (and most of us have done it at one time or other!) then you really have a mess on your hands.  If this happens, you can purchase iron cleaner.
 
“Time is money”
This old adage holds true when comparing fusible and sew-in interfacing.  The time saved using fusible interfacing will cost you a little extra at the register.  This makes sense, since additional processing is required in the manufacturing of fusible interfacing.
 
It’s up to you!
Hopefully the information provided will show that there are potential benefits and shortfalls of both types of interfacing.  You need to consider your personal priorities when it comes to making the choice between fusible and sew-in interfacing.
 

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