Now that I’m making markers for folks, I am cogitating deeply about block fusing. You said:
“Making a separate marker for block fusing and then to have to spread it as a separate operation seems more costly to me.”
But the alternative is to lay and cut a fusible marker, and that seems to balance out the separate lay and cut of a block fused marker. But then if you add in the extra work of matching and fusing each pattern piece, it seems like block fusing wins. Am I missing something?
I’m searching the blog for a whole post devoted to fusing. Not finding it. I’m shocked, Kathleen. Or I’m inept. One or the other. :-)
I’ve published many posts related to fusing -that link doesn’t include the fusing map entries. But more to your point, I started a series on continuous fusing machines nearly 8 years ago but dropped the project as it didn’t seem that anyone was interested. Not ready to give up so quickly, I wrote another post reviewing the equipment we saw at the SPESA show in 2007. Three years later, I wrote How to apply interfacing (in a commercial environment) which provided still more detail. But anyway, I’m glad to know there is more interest at this late date.
There are many variables to determine which is more cost effective so that is probably the first discussion. Some of these variables are cost, product type (design features) factory equipment and lastly, the experience, practices and competence of whoever is doing the cut and sew.
- Block fusing uses more fabric than per piece fusing. The marker in the What is block fusing? post shows the marker with a fusing block to be 5 inches longer than the marker which has facings piece fused. So maybe you do a cost benefit analysis and decide that losing 5″ off of each ply is acceptable? There is still more to it.
- The product’s design must be congruent with block fusing -and many aren’t. For example, if you have lapels (front facings) or collars that need to be fused and all of your goods are not from the same dye lot, you could be in a world of hurt -depending on the remaining variables (see below).
- The experience and practices of whoever is doing cut and sew is critical when block fusing -particularly spreads that have more than one dye lot. For example, almost nobody labels their cuts these days. I’d broached this subject nearly 10 years ago, but nobody was interested, wah. There’s more in the entries on batching but then this entry would become so link intensive that nobody would read it. Suffice to say, I wrote about these factors quite a bit early on.
But I digress: if the plies of the spread are not carefully matched to align to the plies of the block fuse spread, it’s going to be a disaster. Who knows which ply layer will be paired with the pieces of the main cut? And if you need to match a stripe or plaid (again, across a turned back lapel)? I’d forget it. The most cost effective ways to manage that is with first and second cuts but then you need special pattern pieces for those too. To make the second cuts, you wouldn’t necessarily need a die cutter but could use a band saw or even a knife with clamps.
- At last we come to equipment available at the sewing factory -which reminds me, who benefits most from block fusing? I suspect block fusing became popular because it was more convenient for smaller shops who didn’t have the power requirements to run fusing equipment -or the money to buy the equipment. Having stuff fused by someone else who had the equipment was a godsend. After awhile, particularly in areas with heavy emphasis on sportswear, people became habituated to the practice of block fusing and didn’t realize there were other alternatives.
In summary: If your fabric price is relatively low and the cost of labor is (all things remaining equal) more costly AND there are no match stripes, no match plaids and you can cut from the same dye lot, AND you’re not making high end goods, then go wild. Block fuse. However, if you’re making contemporary, bridge or designer apparel, particularly with spot fusing, then block fusing probably isn’t a choice.
There is an extended conversation about block fusing in the forum if anyone else is interested. There are also links to resources of providers who can fuse rolled yardage.