If you are a beginner to sewing and dressmaking, it will only be a matter of time before you come across the need for interfacing fabric. Although it’s not the most exciting topic, it can be a very confusing aspect of dressmaking - understandably for beginners - as it can be challenging to find good advice on how to choose, buy and apply interfacing. Therefore, here at Fabrics Galore, we have put together this guide to help you understand how to use interfacing fabric.
What is interfacing?
Interfacing is a fabric which is used to make certain parts of a garment more stable. It is used as an additional layer which is applied to the inside of garments, such as collars, cuffs, waistbands and pockets, helping to add firmness, shape, structure, and support to the clothes.
There are a variety of dressmaking pieces which are stronger and last longer when they have been stablised with interfacing fabric. For example, if you are designing a pair of trousers with buttons, there needs to be a stabliser to prevent the buttons from ripping off and damaging the fabric. Garments like jackets and coats use a lot of interfacing fabrics, as this helps to retain their shape and ensure they don’t distort with regular wear and tear.
What interfacing fabrics should you use?
There are so many different types of interfacing fabrics to choose from, it can be quite overwhelming. In general, interfacing comes in two main types, fusible or sew-in, as well as three main weaves (non-woven, woven and knit), and different weights. When designing your piece, it is important to make the right choice, as this decision can really influence the final look of your garment.
With a heat activated adhesive on one side, this type of interfacing is the easiest to use as it only needs to be heated up with the iron and it will permanently stick to the fabric. If you are just starting out in dressmaking this fabric is going to be a lot easier and more convenient to use. It works well on most garments, except on certain fabrics that don't like heat or are woven loosely, as this can cause the glue to seep through. Very textured fabrics should also be avoided, as the glue won’t bond well to the fabric.
Unlike fusible interfacing, this fabric does not have a glue backing, so you have to sew it in and attach it yourself. It can be sewn onto the main fabric just like another normal layer of fabric, often resulting in a more natural shape and drape without any stiffness to it. This type of interfacing is ideal when you have a fabric that cannot be ironed or has texture.
However, if you are working on beginner sewing projects, you will be absolutely fine with fusible interfacing. Only use sew-in interfacing if you are completely comfortable handling multiple layers of fabric on the sewing machine. You do not want to adversely affect the shaping of the garment and give it a poor finish.
This type of interfacing looks like regular woven fabric which feels, looks, and moves like fabric - albeit a thicker one. One of the important things to remember about woven interfacing is the fact that this type of interfacing will have a selvedge and therefore a grainline, so you need to make sure you follow the grainline just as you would when cutting out your main fabric. As this material is trickier to work with, woven interfacing is normally only used for particularly fine materials such as sheers and silks.
Unlike woven interfacing, this type of interfacing is more like paper. It is made by bonding fibres together which gives it a very thin feel. It has no grain, can be cut any direction and won’t fray. This is often the simplest material to use and is suitable for most garments - providing you with almost endless dressmaking possibilities.
If you are using a knitted or stretchy jersey fabric, knit interfacing is the choice for you. It is produced by knitting the fibres together, which allows you to maintain the stretchiness of your garment. For example, if you were to use woven interfacing to a knit fabric, you would reduce the fabric’s stretch properties, so you need to use knit interfacing if your pattern requires it.
How to choose the weight of your interfacing fabric
As a general rule of thumb, the weight or thickness of your interfacing should match your fabric.
Therefore, we recommend choosing the interfacing according to the weight of the fabric you’re sewing and whether you need a soft drape or a stiff drape.
In most dressmaking projects you should only need to use lightweight interfacing which is perfectly suitable. However, if you are working with stiffer cottons like poplin or shirting, medium weight interfacings are a much better option. Heavy weight interfacing is normally only needed when making jackets or coats, or for adding structure to hats or bags.
What else can interfacing fabrics be used for?
If you enjoy working on bag and tote projects, interfacing can be utilised for these too - not just dressmaking. With the right pattern you can create the most gorgeous backpacks, clutches, handbags and more, and interfacing is an essential part of that process. The same way interfacing benefits clothing garments, they also add structure and strength to the fabric, making soft, flexible or stiff, rigid bags you are guaranteed to fall in love with.
Where can you purchase interfacing?
If you would like to purchase interfacing fabric, you should visit the Fabrics Galore website. We have a variety of interfacing fabrics for dressmaking in both light and medium weights, and different neutral colours including black, white, beige and grey, all perfect for your next crafting project.
However, if you are struggling to make a decision on which one to choose, we would be more than happy to help. We can help you establish whether fusible interfacing is right for you, what weight of interfacing you should buy, and what colour is most appropriate for your garment. To have a chat with a member of our team, please feel free to give us a call on 020 7738 9589, and we would be happy to assist.