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To fuse or not to Fuse?

rodezzy | Posted in Patterns on

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Yesterday I purchased this pattern and while reading through the pattern instructions last night, I had a question concerning the fact that they want you to use fusible interfacing for the body of the dress.  I also purchased a soft tone on tone embroidered cotton in soft pale yellow, the fabric is thin.  Do you think that the fusible interfacing would change the softness of the fabric?  I’ve never fused the body of a dress before.  Granted I haven’t made a dress since the 80’s…..your thoughts…..anyone?  I want to use the neckline version in the animal print but without the mock belt and add the flounce.

Rodezzy, Fiber Artist


  1. starzoe | | #1

    The whole of the dress is fused? What fabric is suggested on the envelope? I would think that this dress would look good in a textured cotton, one that is not too drapey and soft. A fused interfacing under the whole dress is something I haven't come across and I have some qualms about how it would feel to wear, it would definitely stiffen up a soft fabric to some degree.

  2. damascusannie | | #2

    If the whole body is fused, it's going to be hotter than heck to wear--it won't breathe at all! And I agree, you'll completely lose the drape of the fabric.

    1. rodezzy | | #5

      Thanks for the tip.

  3. woodruff | | #3

    Fusing the whole thing? That's weird, though I suppose they might have been thinking about one of the ways to reduce wrinkling in pure linen or dupioni--you sometimes read suggestions to do this, yea, even from Sandra Betzina (personally, I don't ever do it, and probably never will).A whole-body fusible would indeed change the hand of the cloth, and I agree that it could make the dress hot to wear, too.If the fabric hasn't much body, I'd use a technique that was common in the 60's and 70s: Underlining. It provides more body, and controls show-through and wrinkling--but you get to choose your own fabric. You simply cut the garment again in a light fabric and baste the two layers together. When sewing, you treat them as one layer. It's easy.Why not take a couple of swatches of your fabric and experiment with fusing and underlining? See how they look and feel to you.

    1. rodezzy | | #4

      I've seen this method in well made rtw summer clothing of underlining.  Frankly, I've never liked fusing anything other than making collars or cuffs sturdier, or to help stabilize the area where you put buttons and/or button holes.  From my experience in using fusables in quilting appliques, it always stiffs the fabric and I buy the lightest weight they have in order to control the stiffness.  Now in some loosely woven fabrics that are raveling all over the place, it is a life saver.  But with the lightweight fabric I purchased your idea of underling is perfect.  Thank you.

      Edited 5/6/2008 2:21 pm ET by rodezzy

      1. rodezzy | | #7

        Ooops.  I brought the pattern with me today to get the notions and upon re-reading I was wrong.  That was the lining not the fusible interfacing I was rushing through reading.  An the bag is the only thing completely interfaced with the fusible.  Sorry guys, but I still learned a lot from the post.  I learned that I want to do the underling as suggested (thank you, it makes sense for this dress fabric I have) and read everything and not rely so much on the pictures (giggle).  I can read.  Ha Ha!!!  I read some construction sections fully and others I skimmed.  Hence, my confusion.  Because I like this dress pattern, I will be making a muslin, I want a perfect fit.  I know I will be posting something concerning it later, I haven't made clothes in a long time.

        Gloria Sews, Cherrypops, where are you guys?  Missing you!!!!!!

    2. rodezzy | | #9

      Do you still think I need to line it if I've underlined it, I don't.  What's your take?  I think it would no longer be a cool summer dress.  I'm going to be line dancing in it also.  Wouldn't serging the seams be enough?

      Wanting to know what to do, I keyed in how to underline and found several sites discussing this.  One site suggests that you can underline and finish the seams all at the same time by cutting the underling fabric 1.25 inches larger than your fashion fabric and fold over the edges of the fashion fabric to create what looks like a Hong Kong finish.

      View Image

      This is the sample they gave for how the vertical seams would look.  What do you think?

      Site address:  http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/review/readreview.pl?readreview=1&ID=1044

      Edited 5/6/2008 4:01 pm ET by rodezzy

      Edited 5/6/2008 4:04 pm ET by rodezzy

      1. rodezzy | | #10

        Also, would it be difficult to put the zipper in the side instead of the back where it would be difficult for me to get zipped up?  I hope I'm not being too worrisome today?  When I was smaller and had fewer curves, it wasn't such a bother to sew for myself.  Bear with me.  You guys are such a great group of sewers.  I feel honored to be able to depend on you for advice.

        1. Teaf5 | | #11

          A side zipper would have to be pretty long and very high up under the arm in order for it to allow you to get that very, very fitted upper bodice on by pulling it over your head and shoulders. Definitely make up a muslin or allow ample seam allowances on the CB and side seams so that you can do a baste-up version to check a side rather than back zipper. On very closely fitted dresses like this one, fitting is so critical that you'll probably be making a muslin anyway.

        2. Josefly | | #12

          About a year and a half ago I inserted a zipper in a side seam. I used an invisible zipper, and I could find no instructions on how to insert an invisible zipper into a seam closed both at the top and the bottom! (I've done plenty with the seam open either at the top (neckline, e.g.) or at the bottom edge, but never one with closed seams at both ends.) I had a little trouble figuring out how to do it. Don't think I would've had the same trouble with an ordinary lapped zipper. Just letting you know in case you're thinking of doing the same.

          1. gigi1997 | | #19

            Just wondering how you inserted the invisible zipper into "closed" seams? I have to replace one and have not decided how I am going to do it.

          2. Josefly | | #20

            Edited: Gosh, I didn't realize how long this message is. I'm sorry. I do hope it's helpful.I'm trying to remember the process so I can give you some tips, but since I only did it once and it's been more than a year, Im having to re-think it. An open seam is more forgiving of tiny differences of alignment of the two sides of the zipper, but a closed seam puckers at the top and/or bottom, if there's any alignment error at all. And since invisible zippers are inserted one side at the time, there's plenty of opportunity for error, even if you're very careful. I had to re-do mine at least once as I recall. Get an invisible zipper a couple of inches longer than the garment opening is. You cut off the excess after inserting. When you align the zipper in your seam, the excess length of the zipper should be at the bottom of the seam.As mentioned, lining the zipper up properly so that the two sides fit exactly is very important. So if you're removing a zipper to be replaced, I suggest you first make good markings on the inside seam allowances: with the old zipper closed, inside the garment, use a ruler laid across the zipper to make markings - mark the zipper, as well as the sa's, and once the old zipper is removed, you can transfer the zipper markings to the new zipper. Mark at the top and bottom of the zipper, and at least once in the middle, and at the waistline seam if there is one.I'm assuming you know how to insert an invisible zipper generally, so I'm just skipping over those instructions, and talking about the problems with a closed seam. I opened the seam at the top of the zipper as far as I could without getting into the armscye seam - about an inch, and at the bottom by a couple of inches. You need to be able to fold the seam allowances back out flat, and have room for your presser foot at the top of the zipper. With the garment right side up, I worked first on the right-hand side of the zipper opening. Zipper open, I basted the right-hand side of the zipper FACE DOWN on that right side of the garment, (match your zipper and seam allowance markings), with the teeth at the seamline, edge of the zipper tape toward the edge of the seam allowance. I stitched that side of the zipper, close to the coil, using my zipper foot, from top to where I wanted the bottom of the opening to be. The slider of the zipper is below that point, with the excess length of the zipper. Then I folded out the seam allowance on the left-hand side of the opening and basted the other side of the zipper face down. The zipper appears to be kind of twisted at the bottom, below the opening, at this point, but it works out, as you will see - and this is why the extra length of the zipper is helpful - the slider is out of the way, and there's room to work. This is where it is important to match up the markings. After you get this side of the zipper basted in you should close the zipper and check the alignment - make sure your seam allowance markings align properly, before you re-open the zipper and machine-stitch that side of the zipper from top to bottom marking. After machine stitching the second side of the zipper, move the slider up above the bottom marking, and re-connect the seam below the zipper. Hand-stitch (bar-tack) a new zipper stop just at the place where the zipper opening ends, and cut off the excess of the zipper about an inch below the stop. (Or leave the excess if it doesn't show.) Hand-tack the bottom of the zipper tape to the seam allowances. And then re-close the part of the seam you opened above the zipper. Good luck. I hope you get it right the first try!

            Edited 5/18/2008 12:30 pm ET by Josefly

          3. gigi1997 | | #21

            Thanks! I have not done an invisible zipper in a long time as most of my sewing in the last few years has been heirloom sewing for the grand daughter ;-) The local Hancock's did not have the invisible zipper foot for the Coats and Clark zippers so I will have to improvise by using a YKK one. Then I had to get an adapter for my 1630 Bernina before I could attach it so now I think I am ready to give it a try. I really appreciate your detailed instructions!

          4. Josefly | | #22

            You're welcome - I hope it helps. I skipped over some things that would be included in the usual instructions for inserting an invisible zipper. If it's been awhile since you inserted one, and if you don't have any instructions, perhaps I can answer other questions you may have. There are some pretty good instructions in a Threads article, on using a regular zipper foot instead of the plastic feet that are meant specifically for invisible zippers. I think the article might be available online - I'll do a search for it and let you know if it is. I found using the regular foot a little easier, myself.edited to add: The article was "The Amazing Disappearing Zipper" and appeared in issue #119, June/July 2005. Do you have access to it? It isn't among the available online articles, as far as I could find. This article does show how to insert the zipper using a regular zipper foot, and in a partially-closed seam - that is, already closed below the zipper. But my problem was how to put the zipper into a seam already closed at both ends.I'll bet the heirloom sewing you've been doing is beautiful. Lucky child!

            Edited 5/19/2008 10:01 am ET by Josefly

          5. gigi1997 | | #23

            Thanks so much for your help. I have several back issues of Threads and will check to see if I have that one. I may try the regular foot and see how it does...

            I enjoy heirloom sewing and was fortunate to be able to attend a Martha Pullen sewing school in Hunstville, AL a few years ago that really got me even more involved. I love doing the Christening gowns and the really cute baby clothes. I would like to take some  classes on pattern making some time too. When my daughter was growing up I made the majority of her clothes from shorts to prom dresses but have not done much of that kind of sewing in several years. I just discovered that I miss it and intend to do more ;-)

          6. Josefly | | #24

            I enjoyed sewing for my daughter, too. It was much easier to sew for her than for myself, since I suddenly couldn't just use a pattern right out of the envelope anymore to fit myself, and it seemed much more difficult to know what adjustments were necessary for me, whereas I could see immediately what changes to make for her. I still prefer to sew for somebody else, but I'm slowly working out my own fitting issues. Do you do much sewing for yourself?

            Edited 5/19/2008 10:21 pm ET by Josefly

      2. sewingkmulkey | | #14

        This is a very cool technique and there would be no need to line the dress as the seams would be nicely finished!Karen

        1. rodezzy | | #16

          Yes it is Sewingkmulkey, thanks I hope I'm successful.

    3. TrishyBob | | #17

       I had  a Vogue dress and jacket pattern that called for the entire thing (dress and jacket) to be fused with interfacing. It also had to be lined. When I finished the jacket,  I could not get it on, and the half part that I did get on stuck out like sheet metal.  I used garbadine and it looked awful. I threw the jacket away and never bothered to make the dress.  That was a lot of expensive materials that went in the trash can.  Just during the short time I had half the jacket on, it was hot and uncomfortable. I'm sure the designer had his/her reason for the interfacing, but the end result,  for me,  was a disaster.  Some of these pattern instructions make no sense at all and don't know if it is me, but they seem to be getting worse.

      1. rodezzy | | #18

        Wow, that was a bad experience.

  4. sewingkmulkey | | #6

    I would definitely underline rather than use a fusible interfacing.  As usual, be sure to either launder or steam both the fashion and underlining fabrics so they will remain the same size after washing or dry cleaning. 

    It's a cute dress especially with the hem flounce - a good one to try after many years of not sewing dresses.


    Edited 5/6/2008 2:49 pm ET by sewingkmulkey

    1. rodezzy | | #8

      Thanks.  I have to find the underling now.  I will be washing the fabric tonight.  Thanks so much for your contribution.

  5. scrubble4 | | #13

    Rodezzy:  The best looking and wearing dress I ever made was entirely fused.  I think I read about fusing the whole garment in an old Threads magazine and decided to give it a try.  It is a bit of a pain carefully lifting the placing the iron all over each pattern piece.  I don't find it hot, but I live in the pacific north west.  It holds its shape beautifully.  There is some indescribable extra about it that is quite wonderful. 

    The material was a soft almost crepe feeling cotton.  I fused it with a soft knit fusible.  It may have been beginners luck, but I now play with the weight and the change to a fabric's character.  Sometimes I fuse the whole thing and sometimes I don't.  I have only done cottons. 

    The drape definitely changes, but I think for the better in a cotton. 


    PS very nice pattern choice.

    1. rodezzy | | #15

      Thanks for the insight Scrubble4.

  6. greeneyes21 | | #25

    Hello: Speaking of fusing.....I just followed a pattern for fusing two large horses and a horse with a cowboy on it onto what will be the center piece of a quilt I'm making. The fuse didn't hold well even though I went over it again and again with the iron. The horses are too intricate to do a satin stitch by machine. I did a tiny blanket stitch all around the first one and I pray it will hold when I wash the quilt in the future. I have used fusing for other,small, projects with more success.

    1. rodezzy | | #26

      Sounds like an great project!  From my quilting experience of doing and seeing quilts at shows and those done by my guild members, intricate appliques seem to be better off with "needle turn applique".  It is more labor intensive, but it will stand up better in the end.  There is a better bite of fabric there for the thread to establish itself in.  People are doing a lot of raw edge appliques these days and fusing without any stitching, but they are mostly "art quilts". 

      Also, the other technique I've seen, tried and read about is to use fusible interfacing, you put the fusible side facing the right side of the piece and stitch a 1/8 inch seam along the edge of the applique, then turn inside out and it turns under the edge.  But again, that is tricky with intricate designs.  So, you will probably need to do some research on that.

      But your button hole stitches should last pretty good, unless it is really close to the edge.  Your fabric could ravel out from under the thread.  I have no solutions for you because I haven't done any intricate applique with fusing. 

      Maybe someone within this threads group can give you better advice.  Start a new thread concerning that if you wish.  No pressure.  Just a thought.

    2. damascusannie | | #27

      Did you prewash your fabrics? If you didn't, the sizing could be prevent the fusible from adhering.

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