How to Choose and Use Interfacing for Fabrics

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There are advantages and disadvantages to the various types of interfacing available. Learning about interfacing before you go shopping or begin sewing a garment, makes it easy to understand your choices and why you would choose one type of interfacing over another type of interfacing.

Why Use Interfacing in the First Place

Interfacing is used to provide shaping, reinforcement, firming and support. Collars, cuffs, facings, and plackets are the most commonly interfaced areas but far from the only uses for interfacing. Without interfacing, buttonholes might rip without the strengthening interfacing gives them. Facings, collars, and cuffs would be limp and floppy without interfacing and many creative projects would never happen.

Basic Interfacing Choices

Interfacing comes in various weights and sew-in or fusible form types. The weight is almost always lighter than the fabric you are sewing but should always have the same cleaning-care requirement.

One exception is something like a baseball hat bill or fabric bowl. That interfacing is much heavier than the fabric to achieve the stiff hat bill or bowl shape.

Which One to Use

Although the choice ends up being a matter of preference, the fabric itself makes the final decision as to which interfacing to use.

Before you get started, always pre-wash your fabric to remove any finishes or chemical coatings before attempting to fuse an interfacing to it.

  •  Fusible Interfacing: Fusible interfacing adds a bit more stiffness once it is fused than when it is standing alone. Not all fabrics can withstand the heat required for fusible interfacing. Cool-Fuse interfacing is a possibility because it adheres at a lower heat setting. 
  • Sew-In Interfacing: When you are sewing fabrics such as vinyl, velvets, beaded, sequined and treated fabrics, it is best to use sew-in interfacing.
  • Very Lightweight Interfacing: There are very lightweight interfacings available that will not take over the airiness and draping qualities of lightweight fabrics but instead will add just enough support and shape without overpowering it. 

Testing Your Choice

At the store, place a layer of the interfacing under a layer of your fabric choice. Test with the hand to see how the combination lies.

At home, if you chose fusible interfacing, test the combination on a good-size scrap before using it in your final project.

Follow the manufacturer's directions and allow the sample to cool and check the fuse as well as the smoothness of the fuse. Also, check that none of the fusing has seeped through the fabric.