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Iron-on interfacings

Bea1 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I always have a dreadful time with interfacings. I just made a suede – like material jacket, and interfaced it with the iron on canvas facing. Even though I followed the directions, when it all cooled, the facing seems to shrink up the jacket material, and it all ripples. Maybe just plain “not iron” interfacing would be the answer, but somehow I fail to see how it can stabilize the jacket material, when it isn’t even touching it!!  Ah  me!! Ideas anyone??     Bea


  1. mainestitcher | | #1

    It sounds as if your iron was too hot. It has happened to me, too, but it was a long time ago. You may want to pre-shrink your interfacing, too. Dunk it in very warm water, swish it around, and let it air dry.

    The sew-in type works because quite often, in tailoring, it is pad-stitched to the fabric it supports. even if it isn't, it is sewn to the seams and adds body and crispness to the garment.

  2. marijke | | #2


    In addition to pre-shrinking the interfacing, you may wish to 'pre-steam' it.  This can take the place of pre-shrinking in some cases.  What you do:  cut the interfacing and lay it on the piece you wish to fuse it to.  Instead of putting your iron down, however, steam it from about an inch above the interfacing.  Depending on the interfacing you use, you can sometimes see the shrinkage taking place (the edge may curl also).  Some of the interfacing may stick to the fashion fabric just a bit.  After it cools, just pull it up and reposition it, then use steam to fuse the interfacing to the fashion fabric.  It's an extr step at the ironing board, but it helps prevent the problem you are experiencing.

    An additional suggestion is to be sure you start fusing in one place (one side or center), and then work out from there.   This waym if there's any additional shrinkage, it won't affect the fusing process.  (If you fuse the sides and then work to the center, any additional shrinkage of the interfacing will leave you with a bubble of fashion fabric where the interfacing is too short for the space to be interfaced.)

    Hope this make sense,


    1. SisterT | | #5

      I use interfacing a lot in my projects and I like Marijke's suggestion. Does the interfacing still adhere solidly if it is pre-steamed?

      A suggestion that I have seen elsewhere (and I think I was in this forum)--cut a piece of interfacing slightly larger that the pattern piece, fuse that to the fabric before it is cut, so if there is any shrinkage you are not stuck with a cut piece that is smaller than it is supposed to be.

      I had the crinkle-problem occur with an "unknown content" fabric I was working with, the last large piece of the fabric and a necessary one.  It was a great opportunity for embellishment!  I bought a fine gold braid and stitched it in stripes down the length of the piece.  Everyone who has seen it thinks it is intentional and a great show of creativity on my part!  :)

      Sr Tracey

      1. marijke | | #6

        Sr Tracey:

        The interfacing does still stick.  By steaming it from an inch or so above the interfacing + fabric, you aren't actually fusing, but the steam ends up shrinking the interfacing anyway.  It may stick on a few spots, but  I've never had it affect the ability of the interfacing to stick when I actually fuse it.

        On the subject of the heat required for fusing: there are some lower-temp fusibles on the market.  One I got through Nancy's Notions.  Haven't seen that in the stores, though.  It's great for using with rayon and other such low-temp fabrics.


        1. SisterT | | #7

          A friend has told me that fusing the interfacing without steam, contrary to the instructions on the packing materials, prevents shrinkage.  I have not tried this yet.


          1. ElonaM | | #8

            Most of the fusibles rely on a combination of moisture, heat, and pressure for good adherence, but they all have their own instructions that they'd like you to follow. No way would I myself try winging it by dry-pressing the stuff into place; after all, it's going to be exposed to moisture the very first time it's washed and dried (and moisture is involved in "dry" cleaning, too). There is no way to predict for sure how the outer fabric and the un-shrunk interfacing are going to interact, but I'd put money on "badly."

            Here's my standard practice, because I don't like surprises: Not only do I drop all fusibles into hot water for 20 minutes, roll in a towel, and then hang to dry--but I also pre-steam them. Even after the hot water soak, you can often actually see the interfacing shrink a little more right before your eyes! It's very enlightening to try this.

            Caution is best. It really doesn't take that long to do the preshrink routine, and it's lots less costly than ruining the project you've put so much time and effort into.

            Edited 1/29/2004 8:59:27 PM ET by Elona

          2. SisterT | | #9

            I am going to have to play more with my fusible interfacings.  I tend to be somewhat paranoid about ruining the potential for sticking, but it sounds like you and Marijke have had no problems with it.  I have had some slight "pucker" problems when fusing interfacing to dupioni silk (and I do use steam as recommended by the manufacturer).  Hmm... always happy to escape to the sewing room and play with my toys!  :)


          3. Michelle | | #10

            I was just rereading Sandra Betzina's 'Power Sewing' (what an amazing book) yesterday.  She advises against using any fusibles on silk - (it can cause bubbling, problems with glue etc and it also alters the soft hand of the silk) 

            What she does suggest is,to use either a sew-in interfacing made from an organza or cotton lawn.  However, should one really require that extra 'body' that fusibles give, try fusing to an 'underlining'  (this can be made from even an old cotton pillowcase) in order that one retains the softness of the silk.

            Warm Regards,


          4. FitnessNut | | #11

            This is another case of "test, test, test"! I use fusibles regularly on silk, with great success. May silks will split along the seamline without reinforcement (especially douppioni) and strips of lightweight fusible interfacing applied over the seamline will eliminate the problem. Just be sure to test each interfacing so that you are aware of the resulting change in hand of the fabric, preferably before you fuse to your garment. The alternative of applying the fusible to an underlining is a good one, provided you wish to underline.


          5. edgy | | #12


            When you say a fusible over the seam line, do you mean pressed over the opened seam on the wrong side of the garment?



          6. FitnessNut | | #13

            No....sorry about the confusion. I mean a strip of fusible interfacing fused onto the wrong side of the fabric, over the seamline, applied prior to sewing the seam (on both layers of fabric). You need to use a lightweight fusible that will provide stability but will still press open and lie flat. Test on some scraps, fusing, sewing and pressing. If you like the results, then go ahead and do all the applicable seams. Incidentally, you can test your fabric for slippage by sewing a test seam, pressing it open and then tugging perpendicular to the seamline to simulate the stress on a seam during wear. You can actually see some fabrics start to shred when you do this! Also, if you can separate the threads with your fingernail within a swatch, it will be problematic when sewn, unless in a loose-fitting garment.

            Hope this clarifies things.


          7. edgy | | #14

            yep, thanks -- that is very clear. It's like stabilizing a shoulder seam.


  3. SEWSERIOU1 | | #3

    Fusible interfacing does not work well on some fabrics due to the heat and steam needed to fuse them.   If the suede-like fabric you are using is the micro-suede stuff that is shiny on one side, you can use Fusi-Knit or a similar fusible that does not require as much heat to fuse. 

    Also, did you preshrink your fabric?  That can make a difference, although most suede-like fabrics don't shrink except from heat that is too high, either from the iron or in the dryer.

    1. HeartFire | | #4

      another thing you might try next time is cut the interfacing slightly on the bias, this way, even if there is some shrinkage, there will still be some stretch to the interfacing to compensate for the shrinkage

      Judy 7 of 9

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