Deep but important to know subject today: we’re talking about interfacing fabric.
Interfacing can really make or break your projects but raise your hand if you’ve just bought the cheap stuff thinking it’s all the same (waves hand then smacks forehead immediately).
The truth is that interfacing is a vital part of a lot of sewing projects, but we often don’t think about it. We’ll talk about how to use fusible interfacing as well as how interfacings are made. To finish up, you’ll learn the difference between fusible and sew-in interfacings and where to buy interfacing for your projects.
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Interfacing definition: What is interfacing?
Interfacing is a material very much like fabric itself. You apply it between layers of fabric. Interfacings come in woven, non-woven, or knit types.
Why do you interface fabric?
Interfacing is used to add:
- Structure: Interfacing adds an extra layer of body to a fabric, helping thinner fabrics hold shapes like collars and cuffs better.
- Stability: A lot of fabrics that are tough to sew are tough because they move around on you. Interfacing helps stabilize areas like necklines, armholes and shoulders to help keep your stitches from getting away from you.
- Support: Got a fabric that sags over the course of a day? Interfacing will help cut down on this. Interfacing also helps the outer fabric hold things like buttons, buttonholes, zippers, and other hardware.
- Cut down on wrinkling: If you’ve got a fabric that you whisper on it and it wrinkles, it might be a good choice to add some interfacing.
Where do you use interfacing in a sewing project?
Basically, you want to add interfacing any place in a project where you need some added structure, support, or stability. Where might that be you ask?
- Collars: Does anyone really like a droopy collar? If you can’t pop a collar, it’s because it doesn’t have proper interfacing.
- Hems: Hems with a little interfacing in them tend to hang better than those without, though on simple garments you can get away without it. Interfacing on coats and jackets is a must.
- Zippers: If you sew a zipper without a bit of interfacing behind it, you’ll notice that the zipper will often stretch out. Fix it by adding interfacing first.
- Buttons: The weight of buttons and buttonholes needs the support of interfacing.
- Pockets: Use interfacing behind pockets at stress points that might sag in the wearing or on any type of welt pocket.
- Bags: Bags need interfacing to add some oomph to your outer fabric. Bag interfacings will help them hold their shape. Read more about interfacing bags in Bagmaking Supplies to Help You Make Beautiful Bags You’ll be Proud of.
Kinds of interfacing by how they’re made
Though there’s lots of different individual types of interfacings, you can classify interfacings by how they’re made.
Interfacings are all either
Woven interfacings are made just like a woven fabric. There’s a grainline that you need to match to your outer fabric. Some of the best woven interfacings have special properties that make them the perfect choice over their non-woven and knit cousins. I’m looking at you silk organza! You’ll know a woven interfacing by looking at it. If you can see an interlocking grid of threads, it’s woven.
Non-woven interfacings look fluffy with no discernible network of threads. The fibers are compressed and melded together kind of like a felt. They tend to be more papery feeling than woven or knit interfacings. Non-woven interfacings are excellent for bagmaking and if you’re sewing masks.
Knit interfacings stretch in one direction just like knit fabrics. They’re soft and allow the outer fabric to retain its drape while adding in some good support and wrinkle control. Some knit interfacings stretch in just one directions. Knit interfacings are a great all-purpose interfacing for knits or woven fabrics unless you’re trying to do something specific like tailoring. Weft and tricot are two common subtypes of knit interfacings.
Fusible vs. sew-in interfacings
Aside from how they’re made, interfacings are either fusible or sew-in. Fusible interfacings have a glue added onto the backside of them that gets activated by heat and steam. Sew-in interfacings have to be basted into place either by hand or machine.
Once you’ve applied your fusible or sew-in interfacing, you treat the layer like one and keep on sewing your project. Once in place, you won’t need to do anything else special to your interfacing.
These days most interfacings that sewists like to use are fusible. They’re easy to work with and there’s lots of options for fusibles that’ll help you get really beautiful results in your projects.
Common sew-in interfacings
Here’s some of the most common sew-in interfacings you’ll find.
- Silk Organza
- Hair canvas
- Tie interfacing
- Pellon 70 (Peltex), Pellon 910 (featherweight), Pellon 76 (Flex Foam)
- Buckram (essential in how to make curtains with grommets)
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Common fusible interfacings to look for
It’s true that for all of the fusible interfacings listed here, you’ll probably find a sew-in version. I tend to like fusibles for the ease of use, but if you’re team sew-in, know that you can probably find a sew-in version too.
- Pellon Shir-Tailor
- Pellon SF101 Shape Flex
- Fusible Fleece
- Palmer Pletsch Perfect Fuse Weft interfacing
- Pellon Decor Bond
- Bosal fusible foam
- Sew Keys E Knit interfacing tapes for hemming
- Fusible hair canvas
Where to buy interfacing
Fabric stores all have at least some interfacing. For specific types of interfacing, check out the Notions and Haberdashery section of the Ultimate Jumbo Mega Guide to Online Fabric Stores.
Also for bagmaking interfacings, check out this post.
My personal favorite stores for interfacing are:
- Fashion Sewing Supply: amazing everything. You can’t go wrong here. Super high quality interfacings and the hair canvas is AWESOME. Their interfacing is of exceptional quality and absolutely delightful to work with. Seriously go support them if you sew any garments.
- Wawak: wigan, weft, fusible fleece (the BEST price), and other tailoring interfacings
- Silhouette Patterns: great all-purpose knit interfacing, tie interfacing
- Dharma Trading: this is an unusual one I admit since Dharma Trading is mostly a supplier for fabric dyeing. Still, hands down they have the best price on silk organza anywhere. Whenever I’m buying Procion for ice dyeing, I always add in a couple yards of silk organza because it’s perfect for interfacing.
So that’s scratching the surface of why interfacing is important and some things to look for in a good interfacing. We’ll talk more about how to apply interfacing and dive deep into the different kinds of interfacing available out there another time.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.