Need to Stiffen, Strengthen, or Add Body to a Fabric? Spotlight Interfacing Sewing
Have you heard about interfacing sewing before? Rest easy; we can’t wait to share a few sewing hacks on the subject in the lines below.
Hold on still and listen carefully! Interfacing sewing is quite a discovery for sewers at every level of advancement!
Table of Contents
What is interfacing sewing?
Let’s start with a quick explanation of the central theme. Interfacing sewing has one fundamental use. It comes in handy when you need to make the fabric more rigid.
A “compressed encyclopedia” about interfacing sewing, you’ll find at Sewing Is Cool.
Interfacing sewing is also beneficial if you need to add extra structure or firmness to certain garment areas.
While you’re getting your hands-on experience with interfacing sewing, keep in mind that it can be tricky to get right.
We warned you!
The road to sewing success is bumpy. Don’t be surprised if you experience some trial and error on the path to the perfect sewing interfacing. Reach out to Nicole M Design to work this question out like a pro.
Image source: Made To Sew
To sum up, interfacing sewing will do magic to your fashion project if you want to:
- make the fabric more rigid; stiffen and strengthen it,
- add extra structure or firmness to certain areas of a garment;
Have a look at what Londa Rohlfing prepared for us in her sewing interfacing tutorial. You’ll feel more than ready to start after familiarising yourself with this “demystifier,” as she calls it:
What is interfacing used for in sewing?
Now that we know what interfacing is, let’s tackle what we use it for in sewing. Good questions deserve good answers. Our path from a sewing hobby to successful sewing business is composed of these little (but how essential!) bricks of practical knowledge.
If you utilise interface material for sewing to add extra structure, you’ll most often work on:
- collars, and
Some parts of the garment need interfacing sewing. It’s their structure and function that will call for it.
A variety of garment areas where you’ll be using interfacing in sewing is wide:
- sleeveless armholes,
- and many more;
It takes some attentive work to figure out the proper use of interface material for sewing. Learn to sew them in, and you’ll have a perfect fit to wear for ages once you’re done with your project.
In short, according to the Sew Guide, interfacing sewing:
- prevents sagging,
- gives shape, and
- neatens edges of the fabric;
Types of interfacing in sewing
Tilly and the buttons have a surprise for us―and we’ll let you decide whether it’s a good one―there are plenty of types of interfacing in sewing.
Will you enjoy another lesson about the basics? Take a look at this sewing interfacing tutorial created by Professor Pincushion. She believes that:
“Learning the fundamentals of interfacing is essential for garment sewing“.
We share this view!
As we mentioned, there are lots of different types of interfacing.
Let’s get a quick glimpse:
- iron-on or stitch-in,
- light-weight to heavy-weight,
- woven, non-woven sew in interfacing (with an almost papery feel) or knit,
- black or white,
- in packs or by the metre/yard;
Image source: Doina Alexei
According to Doina Alexei, we divide types of interfacing in sewing like this:
Type of interfacing sewing
What is it used for?
for non-stretch woven fabrics
it’s smooth and paper-like
for non-stretch woven fabrics
provides a slight texture
for stretch knit fabrics or woven fabrics that have stretch due to the addition of spandex
good to apply onto
Now, hold on tight! All the above (woven, non-woven and knit interfacings) fall into two other categories:
- Fusible (iron-on), and
- Non-fusible (sew-in);
Types of interfacing in sewing―Sew in vs fusible interfacing
In the pages of Threads Magazine, you can read the “Handy Chart of Fusible and Sew-in Interfacings”. The article is all about brands, so you’ll get to know names such as:
- HTC, Inc. and
- Pellon sew in interfacing;
See a bunch of exhaustive interfacing producers’ descriptions at Sew Sweetness.
The items that these brands produce vary in weight:
- featherweight to lightweight sew in interfacing
- lightweight sew in interfacing to medium weight sew in interfacing
- heavyweight sew in interfacing
As Pound Fabrics reports
“Lightweight works well on Chiffon, Organza and Georgette, Medium weight on Cotton, Viscose and Polyester and Heavyweight on Corduroy, Canvas and Denim.”
We’re breaking these types and names down for you in stages to avoid you getting overwhelmed. In the end, sewing is not hard. It’s about careful, step-by-step:
- patience, and
- lasting passion;
Seeing you grow is our ultimate goal!
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Now let’s get to the point: what’s the difference between fusible and sew-in interfacing? With My Hands Dream researched the topic for us:
It’s a fabric with adhesive beads on one side made to melt it with an iron.
Sewn to the fabric.
How does it work?
It has a grid of glue dots coating on the wrong side. The heat of the iron fuses the interfacing to the fabric.
How to use sew in interfacing? You sew around the edges in the seam allowance.
Easy/hard level and speed
Easy, but it’s essential to follow the directions strictly. In the worst case, if you don’t and your iron is too hot, you can melt the interfacing and destroy the fabric!
Fast (only iron)
It depends on how well you already know how to sew.
Slow (baste and sew)
Effect on the fabric
It can become too stiff and change the fabric’s look and feel.
Soft and non-dramatic effect. It doesn’t change the look or feel.
Sewings supplies needed
You can sew in by hand or machine
Watch your fingertips!
Sew in (Sew in vs fusible interfacing)
As you see, fusible interfacing sounds exciting and innovative.
Yet, it’s not only about our liking. In what cases there is no doubt that you should choose the sew-in method over the fusible one?
- when interfacing of your choice is not supposed to alter the drape or feel of the main outer fabric of the garment,
- when the only thing that the garment fabric needs is strength and support (fusible interfacing would make the fabric look wrinkly),
- when you’re making garments with expensive and delicate fabrics like silk, wool etc.,
- when working with beaded and sequined fabric―they can’t be fused;
You should use sew-in interfacing with most knit & woven fabrics, for example:
- sheer fabric
- open-weave fabric
- crinkled and textured fabric
- heat-sensitive fabric that you can’t press with an iron
- tailored jackets
Sew-in interfacing has six types, according to Threads Monthy. In general, they come in different kinds of weights, fibres, and weaves.
Why is it so essential to choose the right one? Take stiff or thick interfacing to work with light and drapey fabric, and the final effect will surprise you, and we don’t mean positively. The way the fabrics look and feel will change completely.
Check these six types of sew-in interfacings to consider:
- Cotton batiste
- Light to medium-weight woven interfacing. For example, Pellon SF785, a woven cotton/rayon blend. Cotton sew in interfacing is suitable for face masks, as My.ModaFabrics reports.
- Light to medium-weight non-woven interfacing. For example, the lightweight Pellon 905, made from 100% polyester.
- Thick and lofty non-woven interfacing. For instance, Vilene S13.
- Hair canvas
For exhaustive explanations of the above, check Threads Monthly.
Image source: Doina Alexei
Fusible (Sew in vs fusible interfacing)
But, if you are more prone to choose a fusible (iron-on) way of working with your garment, you’ll need some support as well.
What is a non-iron method suitable for? To give you an example:
- heat-sensitive fabrics
- loosely woven fabrics
- napped fabrics
- textured and pleated fabrics
Here’s a piece of advice about the fusible method from With My Hands Dream:
“It’s a good idea to cut the interfacing a few millimetres smaller than the piece of fabric so that the edges do not stick to the ironing board. Lay down the fabric right side down and spread the interfacing on top of it”.
Let’s break down how to:
- position, and
- apply the fusible interfacing;
It’s not that hard! Here’s how to apply iron-on interfacing explained by Tilly and the Buttons.
See also this short YouTube video on “How To Fuse Iron-On Interfacing To Fabric”:
An in-depth lesson of all the stages on how to cut, prewash and apply interfacings you’ll find on Sew Guide.
Final round (Sew in vs fusible interfacing)
So which one is better? And is this kind of question even legitimate?
The truth is, you can’t say that one is “better” than the other. It’s all about being the best fit for specific garments and situations.
Let us share a brief and compact table of pros and cons to compare both types. The case is too complex to resolve during one sitting, but we need to “digest” some stages on our way to the top. Let’s see what Threads Monthly came up with:
quick and easy to apply
Its look and drape is natural
works for most fabrics
It’s easy to take off/reapply. You only need to unpick the stitches.
It’s safe for heat-sensitive and napped fabrics.
No “bubbling” onboard
It’s not going to flatten textured and pleated fabrics
It can damage napped fabrics
It’s not a quick process.
Sewing a facing in takes a while. You have to:
Don’t skip any of those!
it will flatten (not “can”, it “will”):
You have to watch out for any gaps and shortcomings. For instance, when you’re interfacing a bag, it’s a matter of any minimal gap. It can turn into a sloppy and unstructured piece of design.
It can be messy to apply (can get it on your hands, ironing board, or iron)
It’s not friendly with loose and open-weave fabrics.
It can destroy heat-sensitive fabrics
Unpleasant “bubbling” can appear if the glue starts to unstick
It can change the look and feel of the fabric
As you see, there is no right or wrong; it’s all about the use that suits best to the fabric.
How to choose the right type of interfacing sewing?
Now that we know the types of interfacings inside out, let’s see how to choose the best one.
In primis, the interfacing should match the fabric.
“Use lightweight interfacing for lightweight fabrics and thicker interfacing for thicker ones. Woven goes with woven fabrics and stretchy knit with stretchy fabrics“―advises With My Hands Dream.
Experts say that it’s better to err to the lighter side. The worst thing is having your interfacing overwhelming your fabric or not offering it enough support.
To be sure you’re doing it right, you can always try it out on a small piece of fabric.
The golden rule is that interfacing should:
- complement, and
- reinforce the garment;
It’s ideal if the interfacing has the exact care instructions as the garment (check out these care labels and hang tags). It will help you to cut the risk of unexpected damage while washing or ironing your outfit-to-be.
Check if your fabric can withstand the fusing process using fusible interfacing. Some delicate fabrics will be better off with safer, sew-in interfacing.
Let’s see general guidelines to choosing and sewing interfacings (provided by Sew Guide):
- Ensure that the interfacing isn’t changing the colour of the fabric. Avoid situations when you use black interfacing and light-coloured clothing and vice versa. This is not the effect we aim at.
- Apply interfacing before sewing the seams.
- Cut the interfacing smaller than the main piece. What do you win?
- When you press the interfacing to the fabric, the interfacing glue won’t get onto your pressing surface/ironing board cover.
- It stops the interfacing from adding bulk to seam lines.
- It makes the interfacing much more manageable to apply no edges overlapping.
Image source: In My Hands Dream
- Test fusible interfacing first on a small scrap of the same fabric. This way, you’ll get to know its suitability weight and the support it can give.
- When using interfacing for thin fabrics, cut the outer edge of the interfacing 1/4 inch smaller than the facing cloth. If you follow this rule, the interfacing will not be visible outside.
- It’s better to apply fusible interfacing to facings than to the fabric of the garment. Fusible interfacing can cause a bubbly wrinkly look to the fabric.
- Keep all the stages in order and don’t omit any of them. Neglecting prewashing, even if it seems redundant, may do some harm to the whole process.
Image source: Threads Magazine
If you need several extra tips on handling interfacing sewing, ask. There are thousands of experts online waiting to share their experiences and ideas. Sewing For a Living and Sew DIY are just a few of them.
Interfacing sewing in practice―various types of garments to treat
Now that we know it all, it’s high time to get in the game. Let’s put our hands on the actual fabric and start changing the world into a more fashionable one!
- How to sew interfacing on a neckline?
- How to sew interfacing on a dress?
- How to sew in interfacing for bags?
We’re here to help, so get your sewing kit essentials and let’s see how to break these topics down.
Image source: We All Sew
How to sew interfacing on a neckline?
Do you wish to sew interfacing on a neckline? Then you’re one of the millions who are looking forward to doing the same thing in this very second.
There is a great video tutorial on how to perform it. The internet is full of them. We chose this one by Olga Boyko to introduce you to the subject:
Keep in mind that various garments call for different neckline finishes:
- binding, and
are all possible to use. Yet, interfacing the neckline is one of the most common methods.
How to make it happen? You need two pattern pieces:
- one for the curve of the front, and
- one for the back,
(both should mimic the shape of the garment’s neckline).
When they lie together flat with one of them folded under, there should be no curves nor puckering. Apply interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric pieces.
A pro tip? Fuse the roll line of the collar with the tip of your iron. Shape the collar on a tailor’s ham while fusing the rest. This way, the collar will maintain its shape.
See the following steps on We All Sew. Also, follow these elaborated interfacing sewing lessons at Age Berry or Melly Sews. Don’t forget to add custom woven labels to your excellent piece when it’s ready.
How to sew in interfacing for bags?
You may not be eager and ready (just yet) to work on bags at the beginning of your sewing career.
Yet, as times go, you gain new experiences and skills. Have we already mentioned that we aim to go from a sewing hobby to successful sewing business in no time?
Check with Christina and her BumblebeeBags Blog on how to add a hard bottom to a bag. It’s not only a fancy and straightforward way to make it look super professional. This project takes you a grade higher in your life-long lasting sewing university.
Wanna know more about interfacing sewing in bags? Take a look at the article by Sew Sweetness.
How to sew interfacing on a dress?
Haven’t we been waiting for this part since the beginning of this article?
Seasons change rapidly, and a lovely dress is always appreciated!
Read Sew Mag advice when working with interfacings in general, whether it’s a shirt or a dress.
To conjure up your own fantastic spring/summer outfit, you only need a bit of patience. Interfacing sewing may not be among easy beginner sewing projects, but it’s neither the hardest. No one is here for an immediate effect. We instead aim at efficiency and style. Take it easy; there is no hurry!