Fusible interfacing is applied by ironing it onto your fabric. But what’s the right way to do it? And should you pre-wash it?
This is a step-by-step tutorial on how to use fusible interfacing.
I’m getting my information directly from Pellon and Vilene – 2 of the biggest interfacing manufacturers.
- Video tutorial: 2 ways to apply fusible interfacing. (Skip to this)
- How to do the dry method. (Skip to this)
- How to do the damp cloth method. (Skip to this)
- Should you pre-wash fusible interfacing? (Skip to this)
- How to pre-wash / pre-shrink fusible interfacing. (Skip to this)
Related article: Sew-In Interfacing VS Fusible – Which is Better?
Video tutorial: 2 ways to use fusible interfacing
How to do the dry method
- Use your pattern piece to cut out your interfacing.
If you’re using a woven fusible interfacing (with warp and weft threads like “normal” fabric), remember to follow the grainline marked on your pattern piece.
- Trim the seam allowance of your interfacing to about 2/8″.
This will make the seam allowances in your final garment less thick and bulky.
Exception: Pellon recommends keeping the seams if you’re interfacing leather. This is to help the leather feed properly under your sewing machine foot.
- Place the gluey side of the interfacing face down onto the wrong side of the fabric. The smooth side with no glue should be facing up. This is the side your iron will touch.
- (Optional) Pin, then steam baste along the edges with the tip of your iron. Remove pins.
Steam-basting is a way to stop your interfacing sliding out of position later.
- Select the right temperature on your iron. It will normally be low to medium heat.
My interfacing said “silk/wool setting”, but sometimes I find a low heat isn’t enough and I raise it a bit.
- Using dry heat (so no steam), press the fabric with the iron for 8 to 10 seconds in each area.
Note: this timing might be different depending on your interfacing. Check the selvage edge for instructions.
- Let the pieces cool for 20 minutes.
Yes, I said 20!
This is to make sure the glue sets properly according to Vilene. The pieces should be left to cool on a flat surface.
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How to do the damp cloth method
Follow the first 5 steps from the “dry method” above.
- Dampen a cloth. I’m using cotton. I wetted it under the tap and then squeezed it until it stopped dripping.
- Place the damp cloth on top of your fabric and interfacing.
- Press the damp cloth with your iron. After 10 seconds, your damp cloth should be dry. If it isn’t, either raise the temperature, or hold the iron down for a few more seconds.
- Flip the fabric around. Steam press from the right side.
- Let the fabric cool, then check that the interfacing has fully bonded to the fabric.
- If there are areas peeling off, or “bubbles”, give those areas another press with the iron.
Should you prewash fusible interfacing?
Some fusible interfacings will shrink when washed in your final garment.
This will cause them to pull away from the fabric, creating “air bubbles”.
Not a nice look!
Pre-shrinking your interfacing will help stop this.
However, some fusible interfacings are labeled as “no pre-washing required”, like the Pellon PLF36.
Pellon says generally their interfacings don’t need to be pre-shrunk, except “a few interfacings”.
They also say “nonwoven interfacings do not need to be pre-shrunk. Woven and weft-inserted products do.”
I assume the manufacturer has tested the interfacing and found no shrinkage.
But unless I see an explicit message like this, I prefer to pre-wash.
OK, but how do you prewash it? Won’t the glue be ruined if you put it in the washing machine?
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How to prewash fusible interfacing
I don’t recommend prewashing fusible interfacing like normal fabric. It requires a much gentler approach to stop the glue being ruined.
I would definitly not put it in the dryer! The heat might melt the glue.
Here’s what Pellon says: “Do not put in washer or dryer by itself or you may loosen the adhesive.”
I know this might be confusing because your selvage edge might say the interfacing is machine washable and dry cleanable.
However, this is talking about how to wash and dry it after you have ironed it to fabric.
I watched the online Bluprint class “Underneath It All: Guide to Interfacings, Linings & Facings” by Linda Lee.
Here’s how the teacher told us to pre-wash interfacings:
- Fold your yardage of interfacing.
- Submerge it in a sink or bucket of hot water, folded.
- Leave it there for about 20 minutes.
- Take it out and unfold it.
- Hang it on a rod, for example, a shower curtain rod. Let it drip dry single layer for as long as it takes. It shouldn’t be folded.
Here’s how Pellon tells us to preshrink their woven fusible interfacing SF101:
- “Fill a sink with warm water. Place interfacing in water for about ten minutes.”
- “Gentle squeeze out excess water and allow to dry.”