Interfacing Advice from Amy Butler

14 May

It is Thursday and I am set up to sew. I grab my patterns and what did I see? ALL of them required something called “interfacing!” What is this? Why? I’m so clueless… So I set off to the only one I can turn to right now…. Google…. and I ran into this tutorial below about interfacing and all the different kinds, from the designer of the bags I was planning to sew today. Needless to say, no interfacing, no bags sewn today. But now I know what I need in order to complete a project next Thursday. Hope this helps you and relieves frustration in the future.

Cotton Cloth

* Description: Pant weight twill 10 oz. 100% cotton. This is a less expensive fabric than Duck Cloth.

* When to use it: We use it to add thickness, durability and structure to the project. Be careful not to get too many layers because it gets thick in the seam allowances and difficult to stitch through.

* Can you wash it? Yes, It’s important to wash it if your project will be washed after being constructed. The canvas shrinks quite a bit.

* Substitutions: Duck cloth, a denim if using a darker fabric. Be careful to match the colored fabric with the fabric color you are using.

* Tips for use: It is important to preshrink, but if you are not washing your project then do not wash the canvas. Once you wash it, it wrinkles a lot and can be difficult to press flat.

Duck Cloth

* Description: Pant weight twill 10 oz. 100% cotton.

* When to use it: Same as cotton canvas.

* Can you wash it? Yes, it will shrink.

* Substitutions: Canvas or denim (if using a dark fabric.)

* Tips for use: Preshrink

Fusible Interfacing

* Description: There are different weights of fusible interfacing. A lot of fusible interfacings are non-woven.

* When to use it: When you are looking for a crisp look or to change the drape of the fabric.

* Can you wash it? Usually. Always check the label on the bolt to be certain.

* Tips for use: Fusible inter-facings will usually create a crisper look once applied. Always test on a scrap of the fabric you are using first.

Sew-In Interfacing

* Description: This is a non-woven interfacing. It is thinner material and crisper but will usually create a softer feel than fusible once applied.

* When to use it: For stability, especially in areas of buttonholes, cuffs, necklines, facings and to prevent sagging or stretching of the fashion fabric.

* Can you wash it? Yes, it is washable. It will shrink. Sometimes ironing will pucker it…use caution (test first).

* Substitutions: “Self-fabric” interfacings could work as long as no bulk is created in the seam. Think muslin.

* Tips for use: Should pre-shrink before using, by hand washing or steaming w/iron.


* Description: This is a thick, stiff stabilizer

* When to use it: When you want to hold the shape of your project.

* Can you wash it? Yes. It does not have to be pre-washed, but it helps to reshape your project.

* Substitutions: Yes, you could use Peltex. It is not quite as thick as the Timtex but it should work just as well. Peltex is available with fusible on one or both sides.

* Tips for use: Cut off the seam allowances before stitching it onto your project. You can stitch right on the edge of the Timtex which helps to cut down bulk in the seams. Steam the finished project and mold the Timtex to shape.

* Tip to apply the Timtex: To help keep the bulk from the Timtex out of the seams, we cut a little more than the seam allowance off completely around the Timtex Panel, then center it on the panel. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing the same size as the panel. We use Stacy’s stabilizer, it’s perfect for this! Place the fusible side toward the WRONG side of the panel on top of the Timtex. This will secure the Timtex on the panel with no need to stitch it in your seams. It’s makes using Timtex more ” friendly”.

Other Tips

* Always choose light color interfacing for light color fabrics and dark for dark. It is best to use an interfacing slightly lighter in weight than the fashion fabric. Interfacings can be “doubled up” if extra thickness is needed. Trim in the seam allowance to take out some of the bulk. It’s okay to use different kinds/weights of interfacings in different areas of your project and even combine them . When in doubt, test, test, test.

* It’s also OK to layer your interfacings. If using the same weight interfacing as your fabric is not enough, or does not give you the look you want, double it, or add a layer of another type of interfacing.

* Please note that sometimes there isn’t enough fusing material on your interfacing, or maybe it puckers as you stitch it in place. Fusible interfacing is easiest to remove while it is still hot. Be careful not to burn yourself, but pull it off once you see it is puckering. It rarely presses out. It is important to test on a scrap piece of fabric. Products We are always on the look out for better / easier ways to interface to give our projects the best effect. We receive most of our ” hot tips ” from our retailers and sewing friends, and we learn a lot through experimentation. We’ve tried several brands of interfacings and here are some of the products we like to use:

* Pellon Fusible Stacy’s stabilizer OR SF-101: This is a fusible woven mid-weight interfacing. This one is nice because we were able to layer it with a fusible fleece (Fusible Thermolam fleece). It adds the stiffness we are looking for and the fleece adds softness.

* Cotton canvas: We use a 10 oz. weight. It adds stiffness and durability. Sometimes we use multiple layers of canvas to get the desired effect we are looking for. The cotton canvas we used is from Thompson Manufacturing.

* Natural Duck Cloth: This is very similar to the cotton canvas. It is 100% cotton, 60” wide. It is manufactured by Schott International, Inc.

* Timtex: This is a stiff, thick stabilizer. It holds the shape of your project, and you can press or steam your project back into shape if it becomes distorted with washing and use.

* One product we have walked away from is Pellon Craft Fuse. We used it earlier on in our patterns but decided we didn’t like the papery / crunchy effect it gave the projects. Over time we’ve discovered that other Pellon interfacings used alone or in combination with Timtex, have a superior effect.


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