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Fusible vs Sewn-In Interfacing


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#1 Sator

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 10:38 PM

When fusible interfacing was first invented the more progressive end of the tailoring community embraced it. Tailor & Cutter journals from the 1960s onwards are heavily laden with advertisements for both synthetic cloths and fusibles. These are usually presented so as to push their innovative "space age" value. In one issue of T&C I counted 19 ads for Dormeuil "Cosak" Terylene cloth. Even the cover is an oversize fold out ad for Cosak cloth in cosmonaut silver advertising the "3-2-1-0 countdown for success".

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Notice the slogan about taking tailoring into the "space age". Equally important to notice is the weight of the cloth: 8-9 Oz. For this period this was extremely light. At the time, no pure natural fibre cloth could come near to it in lightness. Another ad pushes its water resistance and lack of shrinkage:

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The trouble was finding sewn-in canvas that was suitable to be matched with the light cloth. There was however one possibility in the form of the equally space aged innovation of fusible interfacing. This comes from the 7th January 1966 edition of T&C:

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The sample attached to the card is extremely light, much more so than wool-hair or even linen canvasses of the time. Notice the way the ads states that it is "ideal for synthetics".

Henry Poole was one of the companies to lead the way on Savile Row using fusing in their coats. However, as you can read in this 1971 discussion involving Angus Cundy of Henry Poole along with Colin Hammick, director of Hunstman, both firms were using lightweight synthetic blends by this stage. Hammick states that Hunstman had been using them for ten years. Cundey states that synthetics were a way of making tailored garments lighter and more comfortable. By combining synthetics cloths and fusible, the results were much lighter than what could be achieved using all natural fibres materials. It was progress.

Things have since moved on. The main thing is that the space aged novelty of synthetics have diminished. We live in a new age facing global warming and potentially diminishing oil reserves. These things reduce the sex appeal of petroleum based synthetics. We live in an age in which living with and harnessing the power of natural renewable resources has far more consumer appeal. Wool, for example, is much more resilient, more flame resistant, both breaths better as well as having insulating properties compared to synthetics. Horse hair too has more spring than any synthetic fibre yet to be invented. So far from synthetics replacing naturals, in fact the trend is probably in the other direction, especially as far as the tailoring trade is concerned.

Furthermore, progress in weaving technology has meant that pure natural fibres can now be used to weave very light cloth and canvas - which breath better than their "space aged" synthetic rivals. Fusible interfacing breathes poorly compared to a modern featherweight natural canvas. The one main advantage of lightness once enjoyed by synthetics has been lost.

In fact, synthetics have developed a very bad reputation amongst consumers for being cheap and nasty. They are likened to wearing sweaty plastic bags that cannot breath. Fusing too is something that has developed an equally bad reputation amongst more savvy consumers for being a mass production technique for rapidly churning out low grade glue-jobs. The negative reputation is probably a bit exaggerated but it is certainly true that fusing does not allow for as much shaping of the garment as does pad stitching. However, it is much too late to combat perceptions as the tailoring connoisseur won't so much as touch any cloth tinged with the stigma of synthetics or fusing. Not only that, tailors prefer working with all natural lightweights much more than with synthetic lightweights.

As a consequence of it all manufacturers now prefer using all natural fibres and machine pad stitching the canvas. In fact there is an argument to be made to the effect that machine padding is scarcely inferior to hand padding. That means that if you are being forced to use fusible it means that you can't afford to buy yourself a decent pad stitching machine such as this one from Strobel used by Jeffreyd:

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#2 jukes

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 11:43 PM

Has anyone had a fused jacket / coat of say 5 - 10 years old from one of the high end tailors to alter ?? it would be interesting to see how it stands up.

#3 Sator

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 12:10 AM

Even before the question of longevity comes up you can already see one of the problems with fusing in this picture:

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Notice the ways the lapels are flat, and don't really roll. The lapel edge fails to sit back properly and are lifting a bit off the coat.

#4 jukes

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 12:20 AM

I was thinking more in terms of the fusing coming away from the cloth.

#5 jefferyd

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 12:39 AM

That could be bad workmanship or bad pressing or bad cutting. There was a photo of a bespoke garment whose collar and lapels lifted like that and ti had nothign to do with fusing.

#6 Sator

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 12:43 AM

Yes, I agree it could be due to other things rather than the construction. However, it would be out of character overall since the suit otherwise seems to be quite well made in other respects. Heck - Dormeuil have spent an "astronomical" sum of money on the advertising, the least you can expect from them is to have gotten a half decent tailor for the suit in their ads!

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#7 Sator

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 12:46 AM

Just for your general amusement here are few more views of our cosmonaut and his Cosak suit, along with his friend, the rather pretty mini-skirted astrogirl :Big Grin: The last picture gives you a particularly good idea of the flatness and stiffness of the lapels.

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They are omnipresent on just about every page of this issue. They even seem to issue an apology of sorts for swamping the journal with their ads.

#8 JMB

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 11:05 PM

I'm surprised a stylist at the shoot for this ad didn't pin down the underside of the lapels to make them lie flat. It may not be quite kosher; but, then, photography sessions for printwork are seldom honest pictures, hence the expression make believe.

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#9 Schneidergott

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 03:51 AM

From the pictures I've seen in my old Rundschau the fusible interlining back then was a very stiffish and heavy Vlies (a non woven interlining).
So naturally the fronts of the coat will be very stiff and board-like! Gives a nice clean chest but doesn't allow rolling lapels or any other shaping. Maybe they fused the collar, too?
Modern woven or "gerascheltes" (can't find the proper English term, I would describe it as an advanced way of knitting) fusible interlining can be pressed (within limits) into shape since it is much more flexible and adapts to the properties of the cloth.

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#10 jcsprowls

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 12:23 PM

There was a photo of a bespoke garment whose collar and lapels lifted like that and ti had nothign to do with fusing.

Agreed. The problem is the undercollar is too long and neither the under- nor top-collars were shaped before setting onto the garment.

I'm surprised a stylist at the shoot for this ad didn't pin down the underside of the lapels to make them lie flat.

Actually, there's varying degrees of skill among stylists, too. But, I don't think that's the problem, here. I see a lot of DIY projects and really bad business decisions based on really bad DIY advice. I wouldn't be surprised if the T&C magazine only had a part-time staff photographer styling and shooting this spread. You'd be shocked how many magazines have extremely thin photography or layout departments.
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#11 Sator

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 12:55 PM

Dormeuil spent £100 000 on the ad campaign (over £1 million today). They obviously paid an ad agency to do all of the photography, hire models, stylists etc. I doubt that the journal had anything to do with the ad production other than selling ad space.

#12 jcsprowls

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 02:49 AM

I'm not going to flog a horse. The results of the ad infers to me that there are dirty little secrets, somewhere in the supply chain, that no-one was able to ferret out in time.
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#13 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 03:18 AM

There are fusings you can use today you can hardly feel, it gives the front parts an absolutely quietness, the coat will then get the canvas with hand padding the lapels. I also think hand padding is better than buying an expensive machine and it gives you more controll over the roll of the lapel.
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#14 Sator

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:39 AM

Are you suggesting manufacturing with a hand padded lapel and a fused chest/front? Won't the fronts look less shapely than if they were padded?

#15 Sator

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:44 AM

Jefferyd will know more about what modern Strobels can do, but here is a vintage T&C ad (June 9th, 1950) showing a lapel being roll padded with a machine:

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#16 jukes

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:09 PM

Are you suggesting manufacturing with a hand padded lapel and a fused chest/front? Won't the fronts look less shapely than if they were padded?


The foreparts would be fused and a chest canvas would sit on top, this practice has been going on for years.

#17 greger

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 07:49 AM

The foreparts would be fused and a chest canvas would sit on top, this practice has been going on for years.



That is one way to add body to flemsy cloth. If the cloth needs substance added why buy it? Fuse also removes wrinkleing. But turning to fuse to do that then the knowledge and skills of the masters disappear, so fuse creates seconde rate clothes. Some shortcuts dumb some crafts down. Now, in hiking, shortcuts add skill.

#18 Sator

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 09:23 AM

Yes, basically it's a form of mounting (or underlying) a light cloth, as is commonly done in ladies' tailoring.




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