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  • Writer's pictureSew Retro

What is interfacing and why do I need it ?

What is interfacing ? – Where is it used ? and why do I need to use it?

Interfacing is an additional layer applied to the inside of a garment or craft project when you want that area to be firmer. With dress making it is adding to certain area’s only, collars, cuff, waistbands and plackets. For craft projects, its added where you need to add firmness or structure.

You would use interfacing on button bands.

Waist band and front openings need interfacing

Cuffs and collars need to be interfaced.

Interfacing is sold mainly as

Fusible or sew-in,

Three main weaves non-woven, woven and knit,

Different weights (light, medium, heavy weight)

Two colours only, black or white.

Black for dark coloured fabrics and white for light coloured fabric. It is important to choose the correct type of interfacing for your garment; if you are using a pattern, they will normally indicate if interfacing is required and what type you need.

I would recommend that beginner’s use, fusible (iron on) lightweight or medium weight interfacing. If you buy lightweight interfacing and it does not make the fabric firm enough you can always add another layer of interfacing directly on to the first layer.

Sew-in or fusible interfacing

Fusible interfacing is by far the easiest to use, especially for beginners. It has an adhesive on one side which bonds permanently with the fabric when applied with an iron, due to the combination of heat and steam.

Fusible interfacing is suitable for most uses, but avoid it for:

Very textured fabrics – the glue won’t bond well to the fabric

Napped fabrics (e.g. velvet / fur) – the pressing needed to bond the adhesive will crush the fabric. Fabrics that are very heat sensitive – e.g. sequins, metallic’s and vinyl fabrics (the heat can melt or distort the fabric).

For these types of fabrics, sew-in interfacing is more suitable. Sew-in interfacing is sewn on to the main fabric just like another normal layer of fabric, and is held in place by the stitches.

Waist bands need interfacing. With out interfacing every time you sat down the waist would curl over.

How to apply fusible interfacing

Before you apply interfacing to your main fabric, it is worth doing a test using a scrap piece of fabric and interfacing. This will let you check that the weight of the interfacing is suitable and that it results in the right amount of shaping to the garment. If you find the end result is too “stiff”, you should try a lighter weight interfacing; if the result is too flimsy, try a heavier weight or apply another layer.

The first step is to identify which side of the interfacing has the adhesive on it. The adhesive side normally has a slightly gritty, raised appearance, and usually you can see a slight shininess from the glue.

Then cut the necessary pattern pieces from the interfacing. Then take your main fabric pieces and interfacing pieces to the ironing board. Put a piece of paper on the ironing board, Place the main fabric wrong side up on the ironing board; and then place the fusible interfacing on top, with the adhesive side facing down on to the wrong side of the main fabric.

Cover the fabric and interfacing with a piece of paper, and press the iron on to the fabric. Hold in the same position for about 15 seconds at a time (10 seconds for light weight fabrics), before lifting the iron, moving it to the next position, and repeating. Using the paper will stop the fusible interfacing sticking to your iron and ironing board.

How to apply sew on interfacing.

Cut out your pattern pieces as instructed, or use the pattern piece provided with the pattern. You can fit the pattern onto the interfacing as you wish because there is no straight of grain on interfacing.

Using thread that matches you fabric, put the foot of the sewing machine to the edge of the fabric and interfacing that you have pinned or tacked together. Stitch around the edge. Now your sew in interfacing is attached to your fabric and you can continue with your sewing project.

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