Fusing a Fifties Jacket

The pattern I was busy tracing last post was a Burda jacket, from one of their extra magazines. burda vintageIt’s a rerun of a 50s pattern. The pieces are cut and I’m fusing like fun. Well, no, not fun. My relationship with fusible interfacing is a not so much a love – hate one as a tolerate resentfully – hate one.

Here’s the jacket, and the reason I’m making it – see that curved seam forming the pocket ? Who could resist trying that out?

Burda Jacket

Burda Jacket


Fusibles come with so much false promise. “This’ll be quicker than classic tailoring”  you kid yourself, forgetting that the sole plate is tiny, not a tesselation friendly shape, and needs to be held to the piece for a few minutes each press. The instructions have all the peplum pieces, the front piece and it’s facing fused, as well as little underarm pieces.

Ann Ladbury has these wise words – “Cut to shape and size using the section of garment as a template, especially if alterations have been made to the pattern. Trim about 2mm from the outside edges to prevent them sticking to the ironing surface”.

The problem with following her advice is that garment pieces notoriously distort after you take the pattern off. A garment piece used as a pattern, needs much checking and shifting to get straight lines straight, and check curves haven’t grown on the outer edge and shrunk on the inner edge. My jacket fronts were in firm woven fabric, but it took much time trueing them to the pattern before interfacing.

Fusible’s second falsehood is that it will actually stay stuck.

Ann Ladbury also advises catching the interfacing in a seam because it will inevitably work loose in time and with laundry.  I feel this is more realistic than advice about buying only the best and following the directions to a T. Is your gear good for applying constant temperature even pressure over the whole surface of large pieces of fabric?

Then there’s the bulked up seam allowance to deal with after stitching. Some like to cut the fusible to the net size, not catching it in, or add only a couple of millimetres to the perimeter. I’ve tried this technique, but you have to be fearsomely accurate to avoid gaps, where your stitching and interfacing wander off in different directions, and on some fabrics it never seems to bond properly.





About jay

I design and draft patterns
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10 Responses to Fusing a Fifties Jacket

  1. Aunt Mayme says:

    I feel your pain about fusible, and I think you have a lot of courage to do it. The big thing I don’t like about fusible is if you don’t fuse it correctly, it (if it’s the non-woven variety) will remove itself from the fabric and migrate; usually to a collar area or pockets. The jacket is beautiful, though. I could see this in a grey linen, or a blue gabardine. Trim around the collar of some sort; maybe piping? White piping for the grey and grey piping for the blue. Hmmm. You’ve given me an idea…

    Liked by 1 person

    • jay says:

      I like your piping idea. I might pinch that for a different interpretation of this jacket, if this one works out. I’ve had migrating fusible in rtw, especially shirt collars and fronts, which makes me think it’s not all down to operator error.


  2. mrsmole says:

    No matter how good you are at fusing, after one wearing or one dry cleaning that stuff will release. I don’t think fusible works well on anything other than flat cotton no matter how many bumps they have on the glue side. Why not just underline the whole thing, keeping the drape and body of the original fabric but just beefing it up a little? I hate fusibles, but use them in small places. Some people fuse whole yards of fabric first and then cut out their pieces. Still things can go wrong later. Love the jacket pattern though!!!! Good luck, Jay!


    • jay says:

      You’ve sort of read my mind mrsmole. As I fused and fumed, I kept thinking that I should have got some nice light tropical weight woven and mounted the pieces on it. Call it fusible delusion – I embarked on it believing it would be quick. The stuff may yet get ripped off I’ve done that before.-


  3. This re-assures me as I have spent much of the last week fuming at fusibles!


  4. Beautiful pattern! I go back and forth on whether to cut fusing just slightly smaller than the pattern piece, or skip the seam allowances, or block fuse. Depends on the fabric and how energetic I’m feeling. I haven’t ever had fusible completely detach but I sometimes get that annoying bubbling effect after washing a few times. I’ve seen that on RTW too.


  5. jay says:

    Not sure there’s a perfect solution. The bubbling is sometimes more annoying than having it detach.


  6. Kim Hood says:

    If they can send a man into space don’t you think that someone could make a fusible that stays put? I agree, it’s a soul destroying activity. Your jacket is going to be gorgeous despite the guiding nightmares.


  7. I agree with you on the interfacing. It just doesn’t stay sometimes. I always sew it into a seam or something. I have, in the past, had RTW that has had the interfacing come un-fused and float around making ugly wrinkles in my clothes.


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