WHAT IS IT?
Interfacing is a support fabric applied to garments to add structure and stability. It prevents areas of the garment from stretching out, as most interfacings do not stretch or stretch very little. Interfacing can be sewn into the garment (sew-in interfacing) or glued or “fused” to the fabric with an iron-on adhesive (fusible interfacing). Interfacing may also be called “fusing,” in reference to the fusible type. If you have interfacing and aren’t sure if it’s the fusible type, look for shiny little dots on one side of the interfacing. Those dots are the glue that bonds to the fabric when ironed. Hair canvas (page link) is a type of interfacing that’s extremely stiff and springy. Fusible and sew-in interfacings come in black and white, though often the black option will be more of a gray or charcoal.
Fusible and sew-in interfacings
Interfaced collar and epaulette on Robson Coat
Interfacing applied to fabric
WHEN DO YOU USE IT?
Sewing patterns will indicate when to use interfacing and which pieces to apply the interfacing to. They will also specify whether to use fusible or sew-in interfacing. Keep in mind that older sewing patterns will ask for sew-in interfacing, as fusible interfacings weren’t available in the past. You’re not forced to follow the pattern directions if you prefer another type. Fusible interfacing is fast and easy to use, but it may come unglued over time. Sew-in interfacing is slower to work with, but because it’s never glued in place, it won’t change after washing or wearing.
Interfacing is applied to collars, cuffs, waistbands, plackets, facings and any other part of the garment that needs structure or stiffness. In tailored jackets, often the entire garment front is interfaced to give it a defined, crisp shape. Choose white interfacing for light- and medium-colored fabrics; choose black for dark colors. Match the weight of your garment fabric to the weight of the interfacing: lightweight fabric with lightweight interfacing, heavy fabrics with a more substantial interfacing.
HOW TO APPLY FUSIBLE INTERFACING
Cut out the piece to be interfaced from fusible interfacing. If you’re cutting a single layer piece, make sure the sticky side of the interfacing matches the wrong side of the fabric piece. Trim 1⁄8″ (3mm) around the interfacing edges to help reduce bulk. You can skip this step if you want, but it makes for neater facings and collars. If your piece has corners or points that will be enclosed, trim diagonally across the corners of the interfacing so the corners are easier to turn.
Place the interfacing on the fabric, with the sticky side of the interfacing on top of the wrong side of the fabric piece. I like to apply my interfacing with the interfacing side up. It’s easy to position the interfacing on the piece that way, especially when it’s cut smaller than the main fabric. Make sure your fabric piece is pressed flat and there are no bumps or ripples under the interfacing.
To apply fusible interfacing, you need three things: heat, steam and pressure. Press with an iron; lift up the iron to move it instead of sliding it along the fabric. Your interfacing may come with instructions printed on paper or plastic and rolled up into the bolt. Follow these directions for the best results. Generally I set the iron to the right setting for my fabric, keep the iron in the same place for ten to fifteen seconds, then lift and move it to a new position. I repeat this action until the whole piece has been fused. Use a press cloth (page link) to protect your iron from the adhesive.
Tips + Notes
- Check the label on the interfacing bolt at the store to see if your interfacing is preshrunk.
- For stretch fabrics, stretch interfacings are best. Even if the area of the garment isn’t meant to stretch when worn (for example, collars or cuffs), if the fabric does stretch, it can pull apart from the fused interfacing. Look for lightweight knit or mesh interfacings.
- Test different types of fusible interfacing on scrap pieces of your garment fabric. To choose the best interfacing, look for bubbles or ripples, and fold and bend the interfaced sample to feel how stiff it will be. Try to peel off the fused interfacing at the edges and see how well it’s adhered to the fabric.
- Did you accidentally fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric piece? Depending on the interfacing, you may be able to remove it without damaging the fabric. Carefully peel off the interfacing. Cut a fresh piece of interfacing and apply it to the correct side.
HOW TO APPLY SEW-IN INTERFACING
Cut out the piece to be interfaced from the sew-in interfacing. Trim 1⁄8″ (3mm) around the interfacing edges to help reduce bulk. You can skip this step if you want, but it makes for neater facings and collars. If your piece has corners that will be enclosed, trim diagonally across the corners of the interfacing so the corners are easier to turn.
Place the interfacing on the fabric, with the interfacing facing the wrong side of the fabric piece. Pin the interfacing to the fabric around the edges.
Machine baste or hand baste (page link) around the edges of the interfacing. Keep the basting stitches inside the seam allowance.
Need interfacing and can’t get to the fabric store? Cotton muslin, plain cotton broadcloth or your garment fabric cut double can all serve as interfacing. Make sure the substitute fabric is prewashed before using. Cotton alternatives make great interfacing solutions for summer clothing, as the cotton is breathable.
Tips + Notes
- Be careful not to glue lint or threads in between your fusible interfacing and fabric. It looks funny to have bright-colored threads trapped under white interfacing, and it’s hard to remove without peeling off the interfacing. Give your fabric piece a quick cleaning with a lint roller or brush to remove any loose threads or fluff before placing the interfacing on top.
- Iron fusible interfacing to your pattern pieces to make them last longer. Make sure to turn off the steam and use low heat. Place the interfacing sticky side up under the tissue. Fuse the interfacing to the tissue, using a press cloth (page link) to avoid getting sticky residue on your iron. Apply the interfacing before the pattern pieces are cut, then cut both the interfacing and pattern piece along the cutting lines.
- Store fusible interfacings carefully with as few folds as possible—you can’t press out the wrinkles. Sew-in interfacing can be pressed flat if it gets creased.
Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine