A quick guide to Interfacing
Interfacing? What's that? If you are new to the world of sewing you may not have heard of interfacing before but that's okay. This quick guide will help you out.
Interfacing is a type of material that is applied to the back of a fabric to give them additional structure, support, and strength. Most sewing projects that you come across will require interfacing, and although it may be tempting to disregard this process it is very beneficial to understand how it works and how much it can improve your projects. For bag making it is very important, without it you will end up with a finished project that will not be able to stand up on its own.
Vilene is the biggest brand for interfacing in the UK and is widely available. Pellon is the biggest brand for interfacing in the USA, but there are many more available too.
Like a lot of things, with interfacing, you get what you pay for. So, although it's tempting to buy the cheapest, unbranded fusible interfacing, more often than not the adhesive on these cheaper versions is not as strong and can result in an uneven and poor quality fuse.
Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for applying fusible interfacing.
The 3 main types of interfacing
This type of interfacing looks, moves, and feels just like a regular woven fabric. Because it works so seamlessly with your outer fabrics it results in a much smoother finish. This is why it is my favourite to work with, especially in bags and accessories making.
It can be a little trickier to work with because, just like regular woven fabric, it has a grain. Therefore, you will need to follow the grain just as you would when cutting your main fabrics.
Non-Woven has a paper-like texture to it and is made up of bonded fibres so it has no grain. You can cut it in any direction and it will never fray. It is the most versatile type of interfacing, is the easiest to use and it is mainly used in garment construction. Although it can be used in bag making it can sometimes leave the surface of the finished bag a little creased and uneven, especially with lower quality interfacing.
Knit interfacing has a bit of stretch to it. It is especially suitable for use with jerseys and other stretch fabrics, as it will stretch with the garment and not hinder it.
The 2 types of application
Fusible, also known as "iron on":
This type of interfacing has an adhesive already applied to one side. You can simply use your iron to permanently fuse it onto the wrong side of your materials. This is the easiest kind of interfacing to use for a beginner and it is suitable for most types of fabrics.
Usually this is found more in fashion and garment construction for collars. It is also the go-to interfacing if your outer fabrics are heat sensitive, such as silks, metallic fabrics, and other types of synthetic materials. As the name suggests, sew-in interfacing is applied by stitching into place.
The 3 different weights
Interfacing is available in light, medium and heavy. Choosing the right weight of interfacing the most important thing to consider is the weight of the fabric that you intend on interfacing. You should try and match the weights, for example, if you are using a medium weight cotton canvas then use a medium weight interfacing. If you are using a really lightweight cotton then you can use a medium weight interfacing which will allow it to hold it's shape when it is constructed into your accessories.
How to use fusible interfacing
You should always double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations when applying fusible interfacing, but most applications are usually the same.
Heat up your iron. For cotton fabrics you want it set to the highest temperature with steam. Place your outer fabric WSU (wrong side up) on the ironing board and then place the interfacing on top with the adhesive side (usually shiny or slightly textured) facing down. Cover the fabric and interfacing with a damp cloth – any clean scrap of cotton fabric will do, then, press the iron firmly onto the fabric. Hold the iron over the fabric for about 10-15 seconds. Try to keep the iron still so that the fabric layers don’t move around. Once fully fused set aside to cool completely.