In this article, you will learn the many pros of using interfacing; the rules you should always keep in mind; how to choose the appropriate colour of interfacing for your project; and how to buy, store, and apply interfacing. And finally, you will also learn basic troubleshooting tips you can try if you run into trouble during application.
Interfacing is to the fashion fabric that the supporting actress is to the lead actress.
In other words, it’s function is to support but never upstage the fashion fabric.
So if you’re ready, here’s the least you need to know to begin using interfacing…
The Benefits of Interfacing
Here are the many potential uses of interfacing…
- To add stability to the fashion fabric.
- To give added body to flimsy fabric.
- To provide support and structure to zipper openings, buttonhole plackets, facings, collars, and more.
- To add weight and warmth to a garment.
- To reduce fraying when applied to raw edges.
- To provide structural support for fabric that is to be embroidered.
Bottom line: The use of quality interfacing can yield a more professional result!
Okay. Let’s keep this simple and get right to what you need to know to begin using interfacing like a pro, starting with…
The Rules of Interfacing
Rule #1: Generally, interfacing should be similar in weight or even slightly lighter than the fashion fabric!
In other words, interfacing should NOT significantly change the hand or drape of the fashion fabric!
Rule #2: The care instructions of your interfacing must be the same as those of your fashion fabric!
Rule #3: ALWAYS “audition” the interfacing by fusing it to a 6×6-inch scrap of fashion fabric. This way you can make certain that the interfacing is going to perform as you want it to.
Rule #4: Always use a pressing cloth when fusing interfacing to your fashion fabric. This will save the soleplate of your iron from getting gooey.
Rule #5: After applying heat, allow the two to cool COMPLETELY, about 5 minutes, before moving.
This will help ensure that the interfacing is “wedded” permanently to fashion fabric.
The Qualities of Interfacing
Interfacing has three qualities:
- Weight? Light, Medium, or Heavy
- Weave? Woven, Non-woven, or Knit
- Application method? Fusible or Sew-in (aka non-fusible)
Now, that you know the three qualities of interfacing, let’s get a bit more familiar with these qualities and their applications.
In order to choose the right interfacing for your project, ask yourself this: What do I want the interfacing to do?
And yes, you can use multiple weights, weaves, and application methods in one garment!
Light- and medium-weight interfacings are most typically used in garment construction while heavyweight interfacing is reserved for handbags, purses, and the brims of hats.
In the image below, the un-interfaced fashion fabric (in the middle) drapes softly. The sample of fashion fabric interfaced with Ek130 (on the far left) has more body but still drapes.
And the fashion fabric interfaced with 931TD (on the far right) actually now behaves like a thicker fabric!
Let’s talk weaves…
Knit interfacing has stretch, of course. This type of interfacing is probably the most versatile, because…
you can use a knit interfacing with both woven and knit fabrics.
BUT you must only use knit interfacing with knit fabrics — knit fabric = knit interfacing only!
In the image below, we have a comparison of an apparel sew-in interfacing and fusible non-woven interfacing.
Next up, it’s time to talk…
Fusible interfacing has glue on one side. The glue side is placed to the wrong side (WS) of the fabric and fused with a hot iron, pressure, and water or steam.
Sew in (aka non-fusible) interfacing is sewn in place, rather than fused. The beauty of sew-ins is that they give the garment a freer, looser look.
Alright. So now that you know the three qualities of interfacing, let’s chat about colours…
Choosing the Right Interfacing Colours
I’ve only seen interfacing in three colours: white, black, and natural.
If your fashion fabric is dark, then black is the way to go.
But if your fashion fabric is light coloured, then use white or natural, whichever seems most suitable.
And if your fashion fabric is red, white is the best option.
Okay. Now that you know about interfacing and colours, it is time to learn about…
How to Buy Interfacing
For most of us, Pellon’s apparel interfacing will be the primary option we have locally. And they typically come in a width of 20 inches.
Here are the ones that I’ve had personal experience with:
- Pellon SK135 Sheer-Knit ~ a lightweight fusible tricot for lightweight and sheer fabrics
- Pellon 860F Ultra Weft ~ this fusible is a hybrid between a knit and a woven designed for soft tailoring (I love using it to interface the waistline facings of skirts.)
- Pellon EK130 Easy-Knit ~ a fusible knit interfacing that works with both light and medium weight fabrics
Ideally, it would be nice to have all of the above in your sewing space.
But at the very least always keep a few yards each of a quality fusible tricot interfacing on hand in black and white.
Consider fusible tricot your default interfacing.
Sew easy tip: You can find wider widths and better quality when buying interfacing online, but they’re definitely more expensive! I’ve heard really great things about Fashion Sewing Supply from some of the best dressmakers in the business. But I’ve not personally used them as of yet.
How to Store Interfacing
And as far as storing your interfacing…
Just make sure that when you bring your interfacing home, you treat it nicely. Do NOT shove it into a corner of a drawer or in a Ziploc bag.
This is especially true for fusibles. If fusibles end up creased or wrinkly, they are useless. (Ask me how I know this?!)
Now that I know better, my interfacing is placed neatly over a non-slip hanger as soon as I get it home.
Finally, it’s time to learn…
How to Apply Fusible Interfacing
Earlier I stated that interfacing can have one of two application methods: fusible vs. sew-in.
Because fusible interfacing is what you’re most likely to use as a beginner, this article will only cover how to apply fusible interfacing to your fashion fabric.
But first, let’s answer this question:
Do you need to pre-shrink your interfacing?
If you are using Pellon’s apparel interfacing, the answer is: No. This is based on their instructions.
And according to Janet Pray of Islander Sewing, you don’t have to preshrink any quality interfacing.
Alright. Let’s start with…
Tips for Application Success
To make sure your interfacing and fashion have a long, happy “marriage” until death do they part, you need three things:
- a heavy iron;
- a hot, hot iron; and
- light pressure.
When it comes to applying interfacing, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which you usually get when you buy your interfacing.
However, here are some…
General Instructions for Fusing Interfacing to Fabric
To fuse interfacing to fashion fabric, do this:
Step 1: Iron the fashion fabric first — it should be crease and wrinkle-free!
Step 2: Place a scrap fabric or parchment paper on your ironing board to protect its cover. I used parchment paper in the image below.
Step 3: Place your fashion fabric on top of the scrap of parchment paper with the WS facing up.
Step 4: Feel for the textured (glue) side on the fusible interfacing. And place the textured side facing down and towards the WS of your fashion fabric.
Step 5: Cover all with a pressing cloth. I used sheer, silk organza in the image above.
Step 6: Now, set your iron to the highest temperature your fashion fabric can tolerate — or the WOOL setting. Let the iron heat up until it is good and hot, about 15 minutes!
Step 7: Spritz the pressing cloth with water until it is evenly damp — not soaking.
Step 8: Then, with your iron, you are going to press—not iron. There should be no gliding motion! You don’t have to muscle it but you should lean FIRMLY on the iron (pressure is key). Hold for about 10 seconds or so. Then, lift your iron, overlap to a new area, hold for 10 seconds; lift, overlap to a new area, hold…
Step 9: Once the entire area is fused, allow it to cool COMPLETELY, about 5 minutes, before you move the newly “wedded” pair.
Before moving, check to make sure the two are truly bonded throughout! And if they aren’t, repeat steps 5 to 8!
Step 10: Finally, flip the “newlyweds” over and press quickly from the RS.
Troubleshooting Interfacing Application
When fusing interfacing, the most likely problem you may encounter is bubbling. And this is usually caused by one of three things:
- Cheap interfacing is a scourge!
- The fashion fabric itself was not preshrunk.
- You did not allow your interfacing to cool COMPLETELY before moving it.
Of course, there is even more to interfacing than what I’ve shared here. And this is probably more than you think you want to know.
But trust me, acquiring this basic skill will serve you well down the road.
The most important takeaways are these:
- Generally, interfacing should not change the drape of the fashion fabric.
- The right interfacing for the job will depend on what you want the interfacing to do.
- At a minimum, keep a few yards of fusible tricot interfacing in black and white on hand.
- Do NOT shove your interfacing into a corner or a Ziploc bag. Instead, drape it over a non-slip hanger and store it like a fine garment.
- To “marry” interfacing with the fashion fabric, you need a heavy iron; hot, hot heat; and light pressure.
- And finally, allow interfacing to cool COMPLETELY after fusing before you move the “newlyweds!”
Yes, I’m done for now!
Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!
RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to unleash your dressmaking superpowers and learn how to sew a simple dress! Warning: This is a MEGA 5-part series!