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Sewing Tips: Defining & Using Interfacing, Fusible Web, Fusible Adhesive

 

 

Did you catch my most recent sewing tip for all of you just starting out on your sewing adventure? (or maybe you just need practice or a refresher??)  In case you missed it, I posted a few tips to help with your basic sewing stitches, found here.

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Hopefully that was helpful for some of you trying to get the hang of (or getting reacquainted with) your machine. 

And just so you know, there are many more tips found in the Sewing Tips section, found here.

Have you been there in a while? (You can always find it by clicking on “Tutorials”, right under the header.)

Screen Shot 2012 01 04 at 11 13 07 PM

. . . . .

As for today’s tip, it’s comes from a question I receive often.

And that is, “What in the world is interfacing and why do I need it?”  So, I figured it must be something to add to the sewing tip section.

Plus a few more similar items that I use often.

 

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I use interfacing pretty often and always have a stock of it.  But I also always have some fusible web and adhesive.  And I use them all for different reasons.  So I’ll explain all of that.

Want to see more?

 

First up? 

 

 

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A bit about Interfacing:

  • A textile attached to the “wrong” side of the fabric, which is the non-printed side or the side of the fabric you want hidden.
  • It is used to stiffen up fabric, when it’s otherwise too flimsy.
  • It comes in fusible (which means you iron it on) and sew in (which you have to hand or machine stitch in place).  I generally only use the fusible kind.  But you may need the sew-in type if you are using a very fragile or finicky fabric that shouldn’t be ironed.
  • There are many interfacing weights available at the store.  Usually you want to choose the weight of interfacing that closely matches the weight (or less) of your fabric.  So if you have a super thin fabric, choose some interfacing that’s just as thin (or slightly thinner).  A good way to do this is hold your fabric in one hand and then start feeling some interfacing in your other hand.  Try to match it up as best you can.

 

When do I use it? 

  • making purses
  • stiffening up totes
  • stiffening up a collar or neckline
  • making fabric coasters
  • to stabilize stretchy fabric and keep it from stretching
  • to help reinforce the area for a button holes
  • and more…..lots more

 

 

Need a visual of a few projects using interfacing? (Click on the photo to go there.)

1  2  3

 

 

Now, let me show you how interfacing works.  You’ll generally cut a piece of interfacing that’s the same as your pattern piece of fabric.

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If you look at your fusible interfacing really closely (but not the sew-in kind) it has little bumps of glue on one side and is smooth on the other side.

interfacing texture

You will place the bumpy side face down onto the “wrong” side of the fabric and iron it down in place.  (I generally don’t have luck with interfacing if my iron is too hot and if I leave it on there too long.  It kind of burns the glue off and then your layers won’t stick together.  So keep that in mind.)

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Now look at the difference a little interfacing can make.

interfacing

Does that make more sense now?  I hope so.

 

 

 

Next up?

 

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A bit about Fusible Adhesive:

  • This is a 2-sided adhesive that sort of glues two layers of fabric (or other medium) together.
  • I always buy a brand called ‘Heat n Bond’ but many people also use a brand called Wonder Under.  From what I understand about Wonder Under (because I’ve never actually used it), these 2 brands are pretty similar.
  • Be sure to purchase a SEWABLE fusible adhesive if you’re going to be sewing because a non sewable kind will gum up your needle.
  • There is adhesive on one side and then paper on the other side, so make sure you never iron directly on the adhesive side……it’ll mess up your iron.
  • I will often times iron this onto the back of fabric and then print shapes or letters as a mirror image off the computer and then trace them onto the paper backing.  And then cut them out.  Works great!

 

When do I use it? 

  • sewing on appliques
  • sewing on lettering
  • attaching designs to fabric in home decor

 

 

Need a visual of a few projects using Fusible Adhesive? (Click on the photo to go there.)

12  22  32

Now, let’s see how fusible adhesive works.  This brand comes in sheets but also on a roll.  So just cut what you need.

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And if you look closely, you can see the adhesive on one side and the paper on the other side.

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Now, you can cut the exact shape that you need or cut a piece that’s slightly bigger than you need and then cut your shape out afterwards.  (I generally just cut a square shape because it’s hard to get the exact shape you need and then match it up exactly how you need it and then iron it, etc.  Plus, the paper side gives you a nice surface to draw or trace the shape that you need.  Great for letters!)  So once you get that square (or other shape) cut out, place the adhesive side down on the “wrong” side of the fabric and iron it down, placing the hot iron on the paper side of the adhesive.

iron interfacing

Then, draw your shape that you need on the paper side and then cut it out.

interfacing cut out

Then, peel the paper backing off………and the adhesive will stay adhered to the fabric.  See how it’s shiny?  That’s the adhesive.  (If you peel off the paper and the adhesive didn’t stick to the fabric, you need to try ironing it on again.)

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Now place the shiny side down on the fabric that you want to stick it to, and iron it down.  (And as a side note, if you’re making an applique for clothing like this little heart below, you’ll then want to stitch around the edge of the heart, to secure it in place.)

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Does that make better sense?  Whew, you’re a pro now!

 

 

And lastly?

 

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A bit about Fusible Web:

  • This is a 2-sided adhesive that sort of glues two layers of fabric (or other medium) together, just like the fusible adhesive above.
  • However, this webbing seems to glue things together with a bit more strength.  I feel like this webbing is more substantial than the fusible adhesive I talked about above.
  • It can really stiffen something up, so be careful what you use it with.  (It could make a lighter fabric look terrible.)
  • This variety that I use has a sticky back that holds the web in place temporarily.  (think sticky like a sticker)  So you don’t have to iron one side down first and then peel off the backing.
  • Be sure not to let the iron touch any of this stuff……it will make a mess on your iron.

 

When do I use it? 

  • when I want to fuse felt on as a backing
  • to applique thicker fabric, such as an upholstery type fabric
  • while making a sole to a baby shoe/bootie

 

 

Need a visual of a few projects using Fusible Web? (Click on the photo to go there.)

11  21  31

Now, let’s see how fusible web works.  Cut out the shapes that you need to fuse together (the blue fabric on the left and the felt in the middle) and then cut a piece of fusible web the same size.

fusible web1

Now, this variety has a sticky back on one side.  So you just have to peel the paper backing off and it exposes the temporary adhesive that’s on one side.  (Feels kinda like a sticker.)

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Now, remember that this webbing stuff can be placed in the middle of your two layers without ironing one side first, like the adhesive shown above.

So just layer it between the two textiles that you want to iron together.

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And then iron it together.  When fusing felt to another fabric, it takes some time and some higher heat.  So be patient.  And then you’ll end up with a nice stiff piece of fabric with a felt backing.

iron webbing

And that’s it.  Your rundown of interfacing and adhesive.

If you have anything I should add to each of these (or if I need to correct something), let me know.  I’d love to add more info.

 

 
Thanks for checking out my Sewing Tips: Defining & Using Interfacing, Fusible Web, Fusible Adhesive post. Check out my full collection of DIY Sewing articles. Find even more sewing projects, patterns, and tips for beginners and advanced sewists by Liz Call, Mariah Leeson, Randi Dukes and Tauni Everett.
 

Comments

  1. Grace says:

    Thanx for the post! I’m researching options to make blackout shades for my apartment without any sewing experience or a sewing machine. This information was fantastic!

  2. Peggy says:

    Another tip is to cut away most of the seam allowance when using interfacing so you diminish the bulk in a seam. It makes a huge difference in the finished product. I usually cut away either the entire seam allowance or 1/8″ less. I love to see people sewing again!

  3. Kandi Lauzara says:

    I have finally found a sewing site I can understand. I am a multi media artist , who doesn’t sew.
    Though I have a sewing machine, I just seem to get overwhelmed. But I have understood
    everything I have read here. Awesome. Putting you on speed dile ( my favorites) sew I can keep
    you handy. Thanks a lot for being so easy to understand.
    Kandi

  4. Bernadette says:

    Thanks for this. Great clarification with all products. I often get confused because so many of the tutorials I read are from USA bloggers and often the brand names differ here in Australia.

  5. monica says:

    This was soo helpful. I think I have bought all of the above and Im not sure if I have used them correctly. I also have used a tiny bit of fabric glue to hold applique in place before I sew. I dont know if that works long term, but it did the trick in a pinch.

  6. shawn says:

    Hi there….thanks for this….great pics and info. I mentioned your post on my blog :)
    https://poetryinapotoftea.blogspot.com/2012/01/diy-projects-this-year.html#comment-form

  7. Hannah S says:

    Thank you for the refresher. I use these all the time but to be totally honest, I still have to check out the Pellon numbers and feel them with my hands to make sure they are the right thickness. I accidentally used a fusible adhesive that was way too thick on a shirt for my son, it looked pretty lame :( Can you clarify which of these are machine washable? I assumed they all are. Again, I always have to read the labels and make sure they are both machine sewable and machine washable. Also, do you follow their guidelines and pre-shrink it? I never have and have only noticed a bit of wrinkling with one clothing item, otherwise I haven’t noticed a huge problem with shrinkage.
    Thanks!

  8. Ashley says:

    I am so thankful you do these technique/tips posts. I was wondering what the difference was with fusible web. I just used the double sided fusible web to make my son a tie(from your pattern)-it turned out good:-).I have been dying to do appliques on some of my own clothing and children’s, and maybe add it to my baby products. I also was so glad you did the shirring one- Iv been wanting to use elastic thread for awhile now-hoping to branch out this year, along with doing my regular baby items.Hope your having a Happy New Year!

  9. Megan says:

    I am new to sewing and often wondered the difference between all of these things. I thought they were pretty much interchangeable…..well, i learned they aren’t! Thanks for the great post and your blog is book marked in my sewing folder! Thank You!

  10. Kristina says:

    I feel like a dope. I always thought “fusible web” and “interfacing” were interchangeable terms. Yay for learning new things–which is, of course, why your blog is one of my favorite things. :)

  11. Anna says:

    Thank you for taking the time to explain the differences. Can’t wait to try out these products.

  12. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for your information! I’m learning so much!
    I was going to make a case lined with soft fabric for my Ipad soon. Would interfacing be a good option to put between the fabric and the soft to give it some “strength”?

  13. Kylee says:

    what is your experience with iron on letters etc and not getting it to come off in the wash? Thank you for the great tips and tutorials.

  14. Kristy says:

    Thank you! thank you! I had to decide just last week which type of interfacing to get on a project…it is so overwelming at the craft store! This really helps clear things up!

  15. sheilaa131 says:

    After so many years thanks to your tutorial, I just hemmed a pair of pants using the hem stitch and I didn’t have the universal foot, but plan to buy one. Thanks ever so much.

  16. Leigh Anne says:

    What a fantastic post. I’ve used interfacing and fusible adhesive, but not the web….this post helps so much!! Thanks, Ashley :)

    1. Yono says:

      Hi Jen, Your canvas bags are awmeose! Color, I love color and your bags have lots. I haven’t done much creating lately as I have been reading-lots of reading and I’m sure you know what!Have a great day, Jodi

  17. Heather says:

    Hi, my name is Heather! Please email me when you can, I have a question about your blog!

  18. Katie O says:

    Thank you SO much. That has never been explained so well & I feel MUCh more confident to use any of those now :)

  19. Esmé says:

    Thank you so much!!!

    I was trying to find out which interface was which and where I could find it in Holland.
    With your explanation it will be much simpler

  20. ChristineG says:

    Wow! What a great article. I am a fairly experienced seamstress, so I thought I’d just skim it, but I didn’t have an understanding of fusible adhesive at all! Thanks so much for the great information. I’ll have to get some of that stuff!

  21. Andrea says:

    Seriously, do you have a spy in my house? You always post EXACTLY what I need at the right time! I seriously just bought interfacing for the first time today :) then came home and read your post… Thank you so much for your clear and easily understood tutorials!!

  22. dannyscotland says:

    I’ve used interfacing, but never the others, so I’m glad to learn what the differences are. Thanks so much!

  23. Rebekah @ Justfordaisy says:

    Very helpful post! :)
    I love using my fusible webbing but am yet to use interfacing (I use leftover of a thick fabric I own to thicken projects!) and am now more confident to try it!! :)

  24. Bonnie says:

    Oh my gosh, this is so helpful! I made a mess of my iron over the weekend using the heat n bond – it never occurred to me to cut it down to size first. Also, I had no idea what the webbing was or what to do with it. Thanks for the crystal clear explanation!

  25. Kelly says:

    Great info! I’ll have to swing over and check out your whole sewing tips page. All these “little things” help a bunch so thanks for taking the time to help us all become the sewing genius within! lol.

  26. Christine says:

    This is very helpful. For the fusible web, can you sew through it after you are done? Also, if you can sew through it, do you need to do that if it is a well used item, like clothing or a plaything?

    P.S. I just bought some of the stamps for my girls and their cousins and a friend. So cute! Thanks for mentioning them.

  27. Penelope says:

    I’ve actually been thinking about this today. Can you advise? I’m sewing a little girl’s dress coat by altering a dress pattern. So would I still want the same or less thickness, or should I go a little heavier than the material because it is a coat? (mid-lightweight wool) I’ve googled for as much time as I had available and couldn’t find anything. Maybe I didn’t use the right search parameters.

  28. Clover@farrbetterlife says:

    I think you are a super star. I pretty much knew most of this but it is so nice to clearly see it spelled out. Never fearyou are giving us too simple info. These posts are amazing reference.

  29. Edie says:

    Hi there, great blog post and very helpful. Just want to point out this line…
    “If you look at your fusible interfacing really closely (the sew-in kind) it has little bumps of glue on one side and is smooth on the other side.”

    I think you mean… (the iron-on kind)

    1. Edie says:

      since I can’t edit my comment, will add to it in a reply (sorry not being the grammar or spelling police, just trying to be helpful)

      This line…
      “There is adhesive one one side and then paper on the other side, so make sure you never iron directly on the adhesive side……it’ll mess up your iron.”

      (you have one one side… should be on one side)

      If I see anything else, I will just use reply again, hope you do not mind me doing this. Again not trying to be the spelling police or anything, just trying to be helpful.

    2. Ashley says:

      Oh my, THANK YOU for telling me! I try and read….and then re-read but I ALWAYS have errors!! ;)

      So thank you for pointing that out, and I always appreciate the help. Seriously. I may have to hire you! ;)

      Ashley

    3. Edie says:

      LOL Happy to help, just glad you were not offended. It is easy to miss things that we write ourselves, since we know what it is we want to say, that is how we tend to see it. Very easy to overlook things.

  30. Kathy says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! My husband pushed me to buy a sewing machine for Christmas (I wanted to make sure I was going to use it) and now that I have it I am so glad I agreed! All of your tips are very helpful for a beginner like me and I can’t wait to get started using these things!

  31. Kinda Crunchy Kate says:

    Thank you!!! Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to do a project with fusible web/interfacing, gone and bought it, and then never did it because I didn’t really know how to use it? Too many to count. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I’m going to tackle some of those projects this year!

  32. Monica says:

    This is great! I have always just used another layer of material instead of interfacing and wondered what the miracle was, this sounds great :).

  33. Blanca says:

    This is GOLD!!!!! Thank you for so long I was always confused as to which to use. Awesome

  34. Tracy says:

    Awesome thanks Ashley! I always have to call my mom for these questions…sometimes the sewing ladies at the store don’t even know.

  35. Sally Chiu says:

    Fantasic post! I Thanks for sharing!

  36. Ashley @ MommyByDayCrafterByNight says:

    Ashley! I love your blog… I am sure I have told you that before, but I am so impressed at everything you do… I just pinned about 15 tutorials/tips onto my pinterest! I love your style and the way your blog is set up! Keep it up girl! You rock!
    xoxo

  37. star says:

    wow thanks!
    I might have to check the stamp thing out!! I love working with stamps on my cards

  38. Cerise says:

    Fantasic post! Thanks so much for the info!

  39. Taylor says:

    Such a helpful post! I have to admit I was always confused about webbing vs. fusible adhesive! Thanks so much!

  40. Sara says:

    Fantastic tutorial! I have just been feeling my way through this (literally!) and am so glad to have a comparison of these materials in one spot. I am pinning this right now. :) Thank you!

  41. Joanne says:

    Hi, Wow I so needed this back in October when I had to fumble my way through learning about these to make my kids costumes, Lol. I have used the wunder under, in fact because it was way cheaper than the heat’n’bond, and mine says fusible webbing but has the paper backing. So I am a bit confused about the 2. I also have a few bolts of the Pehon (umm something with a P if thats wrong) interfacing and it too says webbing……

    1. Kim says:

      I believe you mean Pellon. It is a brand name of interfacing.

  42. Lizzie says:

    Great definitions and explanation of the different products. I had problems with interfacing before I learned to use a press cloth and spray it liberally with water before pressing the interfacing. It works amazingly well and never curls up on you like it does if you use a dry iron.

  43. Nan says:

    Thank you so much! I am such a visual person and although I had learned this somewhat before, seeing the pictures just helps so much in really understanding sewing tips.

  44. Emily says:

    Thank you! I’ve been making baby boots and nobody has been able to explain those differences to me. This will make things so much easier. Thank you thank you!

  45. Alyssa says:

    Great tips!! I use heat’n’bond on a regular basis. I like to use word on my computer to help me make shapes, objects, or letters to print then I trace them on the heat’n’bond backwards (or It is the wrong way in the end) and then I don’t have to free-hand because I am terrible at it! Then I cut outside of my object iron it on, and then cut it out once it has cooled down.

  46. Cortney says:

    Thank You soooo Much for this information. I could never figure out what weight interfacing to use! I always thought the thicker the better, totally opposite! Since I’m basically a self taught sewer, (thank you “sewing for dummies” (literally :) ) these basic sewing tips really help!

  47. Heather Ferguson says:

    Oh my goodness, the timing could not be more perfect on this! I just bought fabric to make my mom a tote bag, and the pattern called for 2 yards of fusible interfacing, which completely stumped me. Now I feel more confident taking on this challenge. One of my resolutions for 2012 is to sew things that scare me, which this does, so thanks for making me feel more comfortable! (I also got completely sidetracked looking at the ice cream cozy and stroller bags…both of those projects rock!)

  48. Bonnie says:

    great post! I sew…a lot..and love this! I also much prefer heat n bond to wonder under! Thanks for sharing!

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