Monday, March 15, 2010

~tricks of the trade: blockfusing~

Blockfusing is one sewing technique that you can't afford not to learn!  It is much quicker, more accurate, with easier handling, and more professional results.  This is how we do it in the garment industry, and I was amazed that most of the apparel students coming to my workroom for work experience had never been taught this basic but vital production technique!  It is very simple - instead of cutting individual pieces and then fusing them together, you fuse them together then cut. 

I'll run through the steps with the skirt I am currently making:
(As you can see I use our wooden floor for cutting - that is fine as long as it is clean and your knees are OK, plus ours comes complete with handy grainlines that you can line your fabric up with!)

For this design I want to fuse the front yoke, the back yoke, and their facings, which are exactly the same pattern piece.  Lay your pattern out and cut a block of fabric around the pattern pieces with a margin of about 1-2cm (1/2") around the pattern.  Don't chalk your fabric at this stage. 

Next lay your blocks of fabric on your fusing, wrong side of fabric to wrong/fusible side of fusing.  Cut a block of fusing the same shape as your cloth pieces, but about 5mm (1/4") smaller so it doesn't extend over the edges and stick to your ironing board.

Then fuse your pieces together as you have them placed.  
Now pair them together and cut them out as per your pattern.  I make my patterns from kraft paper (120gms) which I can whizz around with tailors chalk, but if you are using tissue patterns it would be easier to pin and cut.

 And the result - perfectly cut yokes and facings:

Try it - you'll never look back as it will make your sewing easier!  Blockfusing is used on any part of your garment where the full pattern piece is fused - collars, cuffs, plackets, waistbands, jacket fronts, pocket flaps, facings, etc. 

A few comments on fusible interfacing:
I rarely use non-fusible interfacings, and have found that I rely on 2 main types of fusing.  The one used here is a lightweight knit and I use it on most of my garments.  It gives your fabric just the right amount of body, and is extremely versatile - I have used it here on a flimsy georgette skirt, and I also use it in tailored jackets!  For coats I use a slightly heavier weight.   
An important factor to me in selecting a fusible is that it still maintains its drape once it is fused to your fabric - some turn stiff and card-like and I avoid those.  Always test your fusing on the fabric you are applying it to - hold it up to your body as if you were wearing it and if you feel it is too stiff - reject it immediately!

If you have any questions I am happy to answer them in the comments.  Next up is a tutorial on hemming soft fabrics like chiffons and georgette, and how to mitre those corners!
Happy sewing :)


  1. Great tip thank you. I am forever having trouble with my fussing sticking to the ironing board and being all wonky.

  2. With blockfusing you will say goodbye to wonkiness forever!
    I use a spare bit of calico over my ironing board when fusing to stop any mess, although by it's current appearance I must forget a lot of the time!

  3. What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?
    Though I guess the only catch is that you need enough fabric because sometimes you lay out the pieces that need to be interfaced (fused) not necessarily next to each other. Also sometimes you need to fuse something that's on a fold...
    How would you get it to work in that case?

  4. Keren - If the pieces are not next to each other on your layout then cut a block around each individual piece before fusing. They don't necessarily have to be placed next to each other, it is just less work if you do!

  5. Just so much easier! I'll be using that technique- thank you!

  6. This will make my sewing life so easier. Thanks a lot for remembering me this method that I had forgotten

  7. Thanks for showing the technique I'm going to try it, looks much easier this way..

  8. I started doing this when I couldn't get the pieces to line up properly and always felt that I was doing something wrong, it's nice to know that I stumbled on to something professionals use.

  9. Hi Sherry, Thanks for all the tips and tricks. I was always taught to only fuse the facings on the inside of a garment, not the outside part of the garment, but if I understand correctly you fuse both the outside part and the facings. Won't it get to bulky or stiff with two layers of fuse? English is not my mother language so I might have misunderstood. Hope to hear from you.

  10. Funny tip! I only fuse the pattern piece itself, not the seam allowance...


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