Happy Fashion Revolution Week Everyone!
While this post has nothing to do with Fashion Revolution Week, I had a random epiphany to research some things on interfacing for you guys. Why? Because it’s essential to the creation of many projects we encounter in the DIY world. Bags, quilts, clothing, facings, wallets, and other items you may wear that have cloth or material base for the most part all have interfacing incorporated somehow in them.
Have you ever wondered what interfacing is? Have you had a pattern at some time that called for it but you didn’t know how to use it? Well let’s dive into some good ‘ol fundamentals.
WHAT IS INTERFACING?
Interfacing is a moderately stiff material typically used between two layers of fabric in collars and facings. It can be woven or non-woven, fusible or sewn in, and it can come in different weights that allow it to be used for different purposes. Interfacing can be bought packaged and pre-cut, cut by the yard, or bought by the bolt.
I personally have used interfacing quite a bit in the past couple of years. I was buying it from the store in packages at first for the purpose of making neckties, and eventually went to buying the bolt so it could be easier to have on hand (but eventually I learned that making neckties was not for me and went back to sewing garments). Once I started sewing garments more, I was using patterns more often as well. As I used more patterns, interfacing became necessary more often for facings and finishings.
Most garment patterns require a light-weight to medium-sized weight of FUSIBLE interfacing so that it can be easily ironed onto the fabric and sewn. That brings me to our next subject.
FUSIBLE VS SEW-IN INTERFACING
Fusible interfacing is the most common type of interfacing. It has an adhesive backing that allows it to be ironed onto a surface thus making it fusible. When using this type of interfacing it is important that you test that your fabric is able to bond with the interfacing properly. This may require using a scrap piece of fabric to test how well the interfacing melts with the fabric fibers.
You also want to be sure that your iron is on the appropriate setting for the type of fabric and weight of interfacing being used. If it is too hot this can affect the interfacing and quality of your material. It can also cause a big mess!
Sew In Interfacing
Sew-In interfacing is less common as it is not as convenient. This interfacing is described as it’s name entails. It is sewn onto the garment needing stability instead of fused to it. This type of interfacing is best used for projects where natural shaping is desired instead of a more rigid and less forgiving texture fusible interfacing may bring. It is also better for garments or materials that are delicate or more sensitive to heat.
Choosing the type of interfacing you need depends on the weight of the fabric you are using and the purpose. Let’s talk about that.
KNIT VS WOVEN VS NON WOVEN INTERFACINGS
What is it?– Flexible interfacing with crosswise grain (no lengthwise grain)
When to use it– When using knit/stretchy fabrics. It can be used with some wovens for a softer shape and is sometimes used with knit fabrics to help keep their shape.
Why use it– The stretchy grain equal to the fabric’s grain will allow it to stretch with your material and not against it, thus giving it added stability
What is it?– Interfacing that has a lengthwise and crosswise grain just like woven fabric.
When to use it- when using woven fabrics (grain lines need to be matched between the interfacing and the material being used)
What is it?– mesh-like interfacing with no direction, usually fusible. This interfacing cannot be used with knits as it has no stretch.
When to use- I use this interfacing for just about everything depending on the weight from personal experience. If you have a project that requires a complimentary grain for the interfacing always try using that first.
How to Buy and Where to Buy
Interfacing comes packaged or on a bolt just like your fabric. You can get it from most craft stores near you in the notions section. If sold by the bolt they are usually in the fabric aisles close to the muslin and quilt batting materials and available for cutting by the yard. I prefer to buy my interfacing by the full bolt from Amazon here.
Why should I use Interfacing?
Interfacing improves the quality of a design by providing stability. The moderate stiffness or weight added gives the part of the project stability that enhances its shape and structure. Keep in mind once again that clothing items aren’t the only things interfacing is used for. Interfacing is also used for shaping hats and bags. So if you ever wonder why your bag is able to hold its shape, part of it has to do with interfacing.
Why Weight Matters
Weight = Shape.
The weight of the interfacing you use is going to determine the shape your garment ends up with.
I once tried to make a necktie with heavy weight interfacing because I didn’t know much about it. Big mistake. It made the tie stiff and almost resembled cardboard when bent or manipulated. While all interfacing is very thin, the weight makes a difference in the thickness the project will have.
For more heavy-duty and hearty projects, such as bags, heavy fabric, hats, etc heavier interfacing should be used.
Lightweight to medium interfacing is generally used with apparel.
Just what kind of interfacing to use on what occasion can be found by paying attention to the pattern you are using. Most patterns will have the weight of the interfacing needed outlined on the pattern fabric requirements guide like the picture below.
Some patterns will tell you interfacing is required but won’t tell you what weight interfacing to use. With this situation discretion must be made and information like the type of fabric being used, the type of garment or project being made and what that project’s primary use will be must be determined.
Some interfacing weight’s can be determined by using various interfacing retailer charts. Pellon and Heatn’Bond are popular brands. The resource guide below includes a Pellon Chart that has various projects and their recommended interfacing types and weights.
Is it machine washable?
Most interfacings are machine washable! Interfacing falls in the same family as stabilizer which can wash away and some heavy duty interfacings aren’t machine washable. Make sure to read the label and packaging before you buy.
All in all, interfacing will grow to be your best friend and a second nature knowledge in your sewing tools. Knowing how and when to use it is the best thing you can do for a successful project. I’ve included a list of resources down below for more information.
(Most of the links below also contain information on how to apply interfacing, always read your general packaging for specific instructions before applying)
If you would like more articles like this please leave me a comment!