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Interfacing: woven vs non-woven, fusible vs sew-in, which is better?

by Jennifer Houlden

Last month I was so impressed with the Lone Star templates , which I used to create the tree skirt, that I decided to highlight another set of templates this month and see what I can create. I didn’t really start out with any preconceived project and decided to just wing it and use the different shapes that the Carefree Curves templates make. Along with the templates I also need to use interfacing for this project since I’m working with curves and bias edges. So many options of interfacing: woven vs non-woven, fusible vs sew-in, which is better?

First of all I gathered up a few bits and pieces to get me going on the project as well as some of the usual tools that are standard for any quilting project.

Templates, fabric and other supplies for the project

Templates, fabric and other supplies for the project

The feature fabrics are a bundle of 6 coordinating fat quarters that I purchased at my LQS. The only thing about using fat quarters is that I’m now limited in the amount of fabric I have to create my project but I really like these so it will be a challenge for me to see what I can come up with and not run out of feature fabrics. I auditioned them with a couple of different background colors and decided that I liked the brown the best. Brown is not my favorite color by any means but it works best with these fabrics and makes them pop.


I’m using Therm-O-Web made by HeatnBond, a fusible non-woven interfacing offered in three different weights – light, medium and heavy for varying degrees of stiffness to the fabric. The different weights are used with different types of fabric. Each package outlines which fabrics it works best with and for what kind of applications they should be used.

Therm-O-Web non-woven fusible interfacing

Therm-O-Web non-woven fusible interfacing

What is the difference between non-woven and woven interfacing? Woven interfacing looks and acts like fabric and needs to be cut along the grain. While non-woven interfacing looks more like paper and can be cut in any direction. Both can be found as either a fusible product or sew-in product.

Which is better, fusible or sew-in interfacing? The benefit of the fusible is that once it has been heat activated to the back of the fabric it won’t move but it still can wrinkle the top fabric when fused. I’ve had this happen once or twice but not enough to not use the fusible version. The sew-in interfacing is pinned to the back of the fabric and sewn in place with the possibility of shifting during sewing. It allows the fabric to drape nicely where as the fusible can distort the fabric changing how it drapes. Both versions add stability, thickness and stiffness to the fabric making the fabric easier to work with.

Neither is really any better than the other but rather it depends on the project and your personal preference.

What is the purpose of interfacing? There are several purposes of interfacing and the interfacing may be performing one or more in the project. Purpose #1 – to stiffen fabric – such as in shirt cuffs Purpose #2 to strengthen fabric – such as for buttonholes Purpose #3 to add loft to fabric – such as for a fabric bag Purpose #4 prevent stretching – such as for bias cut pieces and Purpose #5 prevent tearing – when doing embroidery work or thread play.

I’m using the fusible version since I’m using templates and don’t need it to slip and slide on the back of my fabric when the template is in place. Plus I don’t need the pins to get in the way with the template as I’m going to need the template to lie flat.

Since I’m using the fusible version I also need to use pressing sheets to protect my ironing surface and iron from any unwanted glue. Trust me, getting the glue on the iron is no fun at all! Last summer I was making a memory quilt and neglected to use the pressing sheets and ended up with an extremely messy iron.

Carefree Curves templates

There are 3 different templates in the Carefree Curves Collection which make at least 4 different shapes.

Template #1

The circle template makes both ¼-circles and full circles in 3 different sizes ranging from 6″ – 11″. And looking at the template you could even make half circles with it. All the measurements are provided on the template for each size and the booklet of instructions gives the how-to. The instructions are easy to follow and very well written.

Circle template from the Carefree Curves Collection

Circle template from the Carefree Curves Collection

Template #2

The hearts & gizzards template. This template makes 5 different sizes ranging from 8″ – 16″. All the measurements are found on the template for each size. I’m not quite sure what gizzards look like but I’m very familiar with hearts.

Hearts & Gizzards template from the Carefree Curves Collection

Hearts & Gizzards template from the Carefree Curves Collection

Template #3

The wagon wheel & fan template. The wagon wheel ranges from 16″ – 24″ and the fan from 8″ – 12″. Once again all the measurements except one are found on the template for each size. I’ll get to that measurement a little later in the week.

Wagon Wheel & Fan template from the Carefree Curves Collection

Wagon Wheel & Fan template from the Carefree Curves Collection

I picked my fabrics and sorted out the interfacing issue: woven vs non-woven, fusible vs sew-in, and ready to create. Tune in tomorrow to see how easy and fun these 3 Trace’n Create quilt templates are. Happy Quilting!



Roberta March 26, 2022 - 12:27 am

Where can I purchase the Hearts & Gizzards template. I have searched every online source I can find. None seem to be available to order.

Carla A. Canonico March 29, 2022 - 10:09 am

Hi Roberta, thank you for asking. We had written about these useful templates in 2016, unfortunately the Carefree Curves Templates have been discontinued.

Katrine Dukic November 16, 2016 - 9:22 am

I like the idea of these Trace ‘n Create quilt templates by Nancy Zieman. I am just beginning to quilt on my home machine, mostly straight lines with a bit of free motion on some table runners. I can see that these templates would be very helpful for marking lines to quilt over.

Allison CB March 15, 2016 - 10:16 am

Edgreat information!

CaraQuilts January 16, 2016 - 9:46 pm

Love the bit in interfacing! I still find them a bit intimidating! But that helped in sorting through the different purposes of fusible v non fusible. Thanks!

Elaine Wheeler Townsley January 11, 2016 - 10:34 pm

What an amazing website. This is the first time I have been on and the amount of information is tremendous and extremely useful. Thank you for providing this information.

Jennifer Houlden January 12, 2016 - 12:32 pm

Thank you Elaine, so glad you like it and finding it so useful. Jen


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