Monday, October 13, 2008

A few hints for using interfacing...

Using the correct interfacing -and the correct application of it - can be the difference between a "home-made" and "hand-made" bag. Here are a few hints for success...

1. Use good quality interfacing. Cheap interfacing is often more trouble than it's worth.

2. You need a good iron. One with a lot of heat and steam, and a reliable thermostat. I don't have any particular recommendations (but I'd love to hear if you do). I go through loads of irons, and the only recommendation I have is "don't spend less than $60" (AUD).

3. Remember that lighter interfacings are more heat-sensitive than heavy interfacing. Light to medium-light interfacings don't like more than a COTTON setting on your iron - otherwise they'll shrivel up and wrinkle your fabric. Heavier interfacings like a HOT HOT HOT iron, lots of PRESSURE.... and STEAM is also highly effective (I don't care what the books say).

4. Press your fabric before you fuse interfacing to it. Failure to do this may result in unwanted permanent wrinkles!! (Perhaps that's what happened to my FACE...???).

5. Double-check that you have the GLUE side down to the back of the fabric. It's usually shiny or grainy. A plastic feel. If it's the the wrong way around you'll either make a mess of your iron or interface your pressing cloth.
6. Use a Rajah Cloth to protect heat-sensitive fabrics from the iron when you're pressing heavy interfacing to it. I often use (an old) one under the fabric and (a new) one over the back of the interfacing - this protects the fabric, the ironing board and the iron!
7. Press in a DOWNWARD direction. Don't slide your iron around while you're pushing down on it, or the interfacing might move and fuse in the wrong place. Hold the iron down for 5-10 seconds before gliding it gently to the next unfused area... hold it down again. Shoot steam through if it's being particularly obstinate and refusing to stick. If you see bubbles like this... STEAM AND PRESS them down!!!8. Once the interfacing is stuck into place, give the fabric a really good press from the right side. This will iron out any remaining bubbles and smooth the surface of the fabric.
9. If you do a LOT of interfacing, you might consider something like an Elna Press. (I bought mine on Ebay for $76 (!!) but they can be pretty pricey if you buy them new). They make it SUPER-EASY to fuse evenly.... you press your fabric, line up the interfacing.... Rajah Cloth if necessary....
...close the lid...
....see the difference (below) between the fused and un-fused bits..? You have to move larger pieces around a little to get all the area covered.
Close the lid again, then ... oooh-ahhh... nice and flat!
I have to add at this point, that despite having made my living from making clothing, hats and bags for close to twenty years, I only bought the Elna Press this year. I'm still in the honeymoon stage with it!!!

17 comments:

Amy (badskirt) said...

Great tips, Nikki! I'm still learning the basics and find ironing to be my weak point! I definitely appreciate your interfacing pointers.

CurlyPops said...

I've never tried interfacing. Every time I look at it at the shops, I just get confused. I think I'll wait until the purse making class.
PS How do you iron without burning your fingers with steam?

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Thank you! This is incredibly useful! I use interfacing quite a bit but was never sure exactly what I was doing. Once I get back to Oz, I think I'm going to have to come down and get a lesson in what interfacings to use when.

Wow, a minimum of $60 for an iron? I hadn't realised there was that big a difference. Good thing I'll need to buy a new one when I get back next year. I know know where to start.

thornberry said...

I snorted out loud with that comment about wrinkles and your face ... great tips and hints Nikki! Although now everyone will be competing with me on eBay for an elnapress!

Leni and Rose said...

This is a great post, thanks! I get so confused with interfacing, fusible web, interlining, interfusible web facing, fusing interfaced weblining....but after reading this and the link to your website, it's all clear now!

Hoppo Bumpo said...

Thanks for such great information about the interfacing (and a good laugh about the unwanted permanent wrinkles!!).

I'm with you on the steam thing. I keep seeing all sorts of dire warnings about using steam when attaching interfacing. But it works for me! The only time I think it has gone terribly awry has been when using really, cheap nasty stuff.

red_swirl / ginevra said...

Ok, I've a weird question ... 'cause I haven't watched other people sew. Is interfacing properly stuck if you can still peel it off with a bit of dedication ... I mean it doesn't fall off, but I can work it off ... ?

Marina said...

Thanks Nikki - that gives me hope that one day (after much handbag making) I might get it right!

Jenny said...

Thanks yet again for more useful and well explained tips:)

smileykylie said...

Nikki, You must have been reading my mind this week! I've had a terrible week with interfacing, AAaaaarrrgggh! Anyhoooo, thanks for the tips, they are great. :)Kylie

Kirrily said...

ohhh excellent info! I thought I was nuts for being sure that steam helped with interfacing.

And, thanks for your iron info the other day - I got me a fabulous Tefal iron that was on sale ($80 down from $120 or something) and I LOVE IT!

BiBaBoBje said...

I'm just going to start a new bag and can really appreciate the pointers. Thanks for sharing.

Marianna said...

Hello,

I just found your patterns website and I am reading your blog. I took a class a while back with Melody Johnson (http://www.wowmelody.com). She has used fusible interfacing for most of her art quilts (she uses the double sided stuff). This is the way she explained it...

Most commercial cotton fabric has sizing (stiffener, starch, etc.) that is applied to the fabric by the manufacturer. This sizing PREVENTS the glue in the fusible interfacing from adhering properly. She recommends either washing your fabric or spraying it to saturation with water and press ironing it on a towel to dry prior to using a fusible. Either method will remove the sizing from commercial cottons and your fusible interfacing will stick MUCH better. (She doesn't have to do this most of the time because she hand dyes her fabric).

I have tried this, and she is right. I think this explains why some people haven't been successful in using fusible interfacing and some have had a hit and miss experience. I hope this helps.

Love your patterns...

chava's tune... said...

Hi Nikki, I have been having trouble sometimes with interfacing bags - particularly when I'm using linen.

Everything seems fine - all smooth and 'stuck', but after I've sewn the pieces together bubbles seem to appear. Does this mean that I haven't fused it properly afterall? It gets even worse if I'm having a hard time turning the bag the right way out. Do you have any suggestions?

I have to admit that a new iron is on my shopping list - that might help...

Yvette

Lynne Brotman said...

I have never used interfacing, but would love to make bags and totes. Looks like the press is worth the money.

Lynette Panozzo said...

Hi Nikki
Thank you thank you for all these tips, just love your site. I would love to attend your classes, but unfortunately I am too far away. Sooooo have you ever thought about doing classes outside of Melbourne, for example Albury-Wodonga?? which by chance is where I am from!! We have embroidery, quilting and lots of other "stuff" going on at Statewide Sewing Centre in Albury.
Here's hopeing.....
Again many thanks
lpanoz@bigpond.com

Adina Mayo said...

Thank you so much for the tips! Your work is awesome!