A Quick Guide to Interfacing | Commercially Alternative

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Quick Guide to Interfacing

            Interfacing is a very useful tool in sewing. It is used in collars, cuffs, waistbands, buttonholes, and much more. It makes the fabric stronger, stiffer, and helps the garment keep its shape. However, with so many choices available, interfacing can be intimidating. This basic guide will let you know what’s our there and which I like to use. Remember, always test interfacing on your fabric before you use it. This will allow you to see if the interfacing you purchased is appropriate for your fabric and gives the rigidity you desire.

Lightweight or Heavyweight
The type of interfacing one uses sometimes depends on the requirements of the garment such as lightweight or heavyweight. Patterns often tell you which type is appropriate. Generally, the heavier the fabric, the heavier the interfacing one needs. In addition, different weights create different affects. Such as a lightweight can be used for the facing to finish a neck seam while heavyweight is used for tailoring jackets and for stiff collars. It all really depends on how rigid one wants the garment, the weight of the fabric, and the purpose. If you are unsure, test it out in the fabric store. Place your fabric on top of the interfacing in question and see how it hangs. Do the two of them together feel like the final product you want?

Sew-in or Fusible
Some people like sew-in interfacing while I prefer fusible. Sew-in is just like the name and requires one to sew the interfacing to the fabric piece and then sew the pieces together. They are used on fabrics that can’t withstand the heat or steam of the iron needed to fuse the interfacing or on fabrics with sequins and such. Sew-in interfacing is also used on fabrics that could be crushed by the iron such as velvet or fake furs. On the other hand, fusible interfacing is perfect for cottons. Fusible interfacing has an adhesive on one side and one irons it in place. Fusible is fast and easy to use. I’ve heard some people complain that fusible interfacing comes out lumpy and bubbly, but I have never run into such an issue. Remember to follow the instructions given on the packaging and these following four things. If you utilize them every time, I’m sure your fusible interfacing will turn out beautifully.
·        Heat: You must turn your iron up as high as your fabric will allow.
·        Time: Don’t rush it. Give it at least the minimal time listed on the package.
·        Moisture: Turn your steam all the way up and, if you can, press the button that gives you bursts of steam every ten seconds or so.
·        Pressure: Press down hard on the iron.

Remember: Use paper towels when applying fusible interfacing so the interfacing is not accidentally fused to the board or the iron. In addition, do not pull the iron across the fabric but use a pressing motion.

Woven, Knit, or Non-Woven
Interfacing is constructed in one of three ways, woven, knit, and non-woven. Woven interfacing is fine, but just like woven cotton fabric, following the grain line is important. With knit, that is not of concern and the pattern pieces can be placed wherever. Do not get non-woven interfacing. This type falls apart after a few washes and does not provide much, if any, support for your garment.


How the interfacing is constructed and the effect on the finished garment can become quite complicated. For instance, some types allow stretch, some allow stretch in one direction, and some do not stretch at all. As a default, I use a basic knit because that’s what I’m comfortable using.

Interfacing can be found on bolts in the fabric department and come in white or black. Don’t get the prepackaged interfacing that can be found near the sewing notions. When using interfacing, one wants to get the best. Prepackaged interfacing is incredibly cheap in both price and quality. You will not be happy with the final product.

When buying interfacing, get more than the pattern needs. Keep the instructions that come with it and maybe a scrap of fabric with the interfacing applied. This will allow you to build up a library of sorts. Then, when the need arises, you will have just the right interfacing for your project and you will know which works best.

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