Beginner Sewing Tips: Interfacing

Here's a beginner's guide to interfacing that will make all your sewing projects easier. It's an addition to how to add fusible interfacing tutorial from a while ago. Avoid beginner sewing mistakes and do it right - the first time!
how to use interfacing: beginner sewing tips by AppleGreen Cottage


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These beginner sewing tips are all you need to know about interfacing, the basic differences and interfacing types. 

Interfacing is a great addition to a project when you need to make your fabric stiffer, more stable or to strengthen an area, and it also gives a sewing project some shape and body. After the quick sewing tip on how to apply interfacing from last month, here's a short beginner's guide to interfacing, to help you start off on the right foot - and answer any questions you might have with interfacings.

Interfacing


Let me first cover a few basics, for those who are to do their first project with interfacing:

As evident from the name, interfacing will give your fabric additional stability needed for the optimal use of the product. It will add stiffness to the fabric, and you'll always apply it to the back of the fabric before you start stitching. It will not be visible in the finalized product.

how to use interfacing: beginner sewing tips by AppleGreen Cottage

TYPES

There are tons of various types of interfacing, varying in weight, stiffness, materials used, and use. Interfacing can be

  • woven (looks like fabric, though stiffened), or 
  • non-woven (compressed fibers, with one side covered with adhesive; the non-wovens often have a paper-like feel). 

It can be fusible (iron-on) or non-fusible (sew-in). Let's stop right here and just take a look at what you definitely should know about it. (You don't have a week to study just these, have you?)



In short, a few guidelines:

WEIGHT: ranging from lightweight through mid- and heavy-weight. As a rule of thumb, you always want your interfacing a bit lighter than the fabric, so choose accordingly.

WOVEN interfacing - watch out for the grainline, it needs to be taken into account when cutting!
You don't need to do that with non-woven one, but it's not really that of a burden. I love either of those.

Non-Fusible: you have more work to do, so if you're a beginner, you'll probably opt for the FUSIBLE one. See below for additional details and a how-to.

how to use interfacing: beginner sewing tips by AppleGreen Cottage
Top:woven (decor-weight), bottom: fusible fleece, non-woven

NON-FUSIBLE or FUSIBLE?


There are basically two ways to apply interfacing, depending on the type: non-fusible (you need to sew it to the back of the fabric) and the one I prefer (and you might too): fusible interfacing.


NON-FUSIBLE INTERFACING - WHEN? 

Although still widely available, sew-in interfacing is not the first choice of many sewers. It needs to be sewn together with the fabric, meaning it will take more of your time and you'll need to work with several layers. But sometimes the non-fusible type will be the preferred, or even the only option. When?

  • When your fabric is not suitable for ironing.
  • When the fabric has a lot of structure, and 
  • Visual effect: when fusing would work against the desired visual effect of the finalized project. (eg when you want that fluffy feel of a project - like these round storage baskets.

FUSIBLE INTERFACING 

Fusible interfacing is great for when you need to add stability to your fabric, and it will only take you a few minutes to iron it onto the back side of the fabric. No pinning or basting - take a look at this quick how-to:

how to apply fusible interfacing

A List of popular types and brands:


Here's a short list of fusible types of interfacing. Depending on what effect and level of stability you are after, one of these will suit your project:

  • fusible fleece (gives body to the project) - my fav for easy crafts, sewing projects!) It will give a bit of a body and stability to a bag, and it's perfect for my popular ZIP Pocket Coin Purse, as well as this crossbody bag and clutch
  • examples of fusible fleece: Pellon 987F fusible fleece, Pellon fusible Thermolam is felted, dense and thicker than Pellon 987F; equivalents to these two are like Vilene H640 (thicker) /H630 (thinner)
  • thin, stiff medium-weight interfacing like Vilene S 320 - I love using Vilene 320 as flaps on bags, it makes them stable yet it does not crinkle, due to the perforations on the surface (magic!) - it's close to Pellon Craft Fuse
  • something between light and medium-weight: Pellon Shape Flex 101 (all purpose medium weight, great for collars, cuffs, etc) - great to add to all lining pieces on a bag like my Enya Crossbody Wallet. Very close to another brand that's popular in Europe and australia: Vilene - look for Vilene G 700
  • Pellon Decor Bond (very rigid, great for placemats or other stiff pieces of home decor) - perfect for the outer layer of my TEYA crossbody bag
  • Pellon Fusible Midweight (home decor projects)
  • totally light like Heat N Bond Lightweight (for blouses, apparel, thin, I rarely use it for home decor)
  • soft non-woven, fluffy, like Heat'N'Bond medium weight. No stiffness!
  • Very stiff, thin: Decovil Light (very close to Pellon 809 Decor Bond)  Crinkles easily and does not regain smoothness, so you might not want to use it on projects that need to be turned right-side-out at the end of sewing.
  • and it's thicker counterpart: Decovil I - looks and feels like leather. Really strong stuff. Stay away from it for your first sewing projects :)
  • and then there's flex foam, a great but totally different beast. Some other time more about this one. Most popular brands include: Annie's Soft'N'Stable, Vilene Style-Vil and PellonFlex Foam 77

Not, by any means, an exhaustive list! There are many more, and I keep finding new materials and brands, and I'll be adding to this list, so make sure to come back soon.

Don't let this list intimidate you. Just so you know, you WILL find your favorite soon. Just start with general all-purpose interfacing, maybe even start with fusible fleece. Then later check out a few more when you get a chance, and you'll see what you prefer. Never the same with two sewists!

how to use interfacing: beginner sewing tips by AppleGreen Cottage
Left: very stiff, decor-weight woven interfacing. Right: fusible fleece.

SIMPLE CRAFT PROJECTS? FUSIBLE FLEECE.

To be honest, if you're a beginner, and mostly working on easy sewing projects, there's high chance you'll simply get away by using one type: fusible fleece.  It's feels like felt, with one adhesive side, and it will give your project some nice body. Several brands and thicknesses; start with one and then switch to a thicker, denser one like  or go for a thinner one like

Not a pro advice, but rather one that will help you get on with your sewing asap and prevent that overwhelming feeling for when we face too many choices.

Need examples? I used fusible fleece in these crafting projects:

      

   
           Gift Bag Pattern                 Tria Mini Coin Purse Pattern



I used soft, fusible non-woven polyester interfacing here - it's just a bit lighter than fusible fleece, and even more affordable. You'll recognize it from far because it's totally light and puffy and has tiny glue dots on one side.

 


Oh, and one more thing: take into account that depending on the continent you live on, some types of interfacing might be hard to find - like in this post on my Teya crossbody tote pattern, Caroline had issues to get fusible canvas stabilizer, but is very easy to find where I live. Check out how she used interlining instead! 

And last but not least, a money-saver: here's one little tip for you that might save the day when you are sitting at your sewing machine, making a project when you realize you're running out of your interfacing, fusible felt, or batting:

how to use batting scraps




And one thing more: never toss away any scraps of interfacing, interlining or anything even closely resembling batting! Why? You'll use them on projects like these: 

how to add magnetic snaps  wristlet strap sewing tip


But since you're reading this post, you might already have your interfacing in front of you, and you'd just want to start your project asap. So, let's get it done! Happy sewing!

Save For Later:

how to use interfacing: beginner sewing tips


Damjana

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