Interfacing Basics in Sewing Explained

what is interfacing in sewing

Interfacing Basics in Sewing Explained

Interfacing is a foundational element in sewing, serving as a hidden hero behind the scenes of many sewing projects. This material, often unseen in the final product, plays a critical role in providing fabric stabilization, shape, and support. Whether you’re crafting a garment that demands a crisp collar or a bag that needs to stand up on its own, interfacing is the key to achieving those results. It comes in various forms, each designed to complement different types of fabrics and sewing applications. From fusible options that adhere with heat to sew-in varieties that are stitched in place, interfacing can drastically change the functionality and appearance of a project. Understanding the types, applications, and methods of interfacing is essential for sewers aiming to elevate their craft. By mastering the use of interfacing, sewers can ensure their projects look polished and professional, regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the design.

Understanding interfacing is crucial for achieving professional-looking sewing projects. The Professor Pincushion video on YouTube, titled “Sewing Interfacing Basics – Interfacing 101,” provides a beginner-friendly introduction to choosing and using different types of interfacing, which is essential for garment construction. Craftsy also offers a detailed post on when and how to use interfacing, including tips for fusible and sew-in varieties. For a comprehensive look at interfacing options and techniques, AppleGreen Cottage’s guide on all about interfacing in sewing provides valuable insights into how interfacing can enhance your sewing projects, making them more durable and structured.

Types of Interfacing

Interfacing is categorized into three primary types: woven, non-woven, and knit, each with unique characteristics and uses in sewing projects.

  • Woven Interfacing: This type is made from threads woven together, much like regular fabric. It offers a degree of stretch and flexibility, making it ideal for garments that require a natural drape. Woven interfacing is perfect for reinforcing areas of clothing that need to maintain flexibility, such as shirt collars and cuffs. It’s essential to align the grain of the woven interfacing with the fabric to ensure a harmonious fit.
  • Non-Woven Interfacing: Composed of fibers bonded together, non-woven interfacing does not have a grain, which means it can be cut in any direction. This type is versatile and can be used in a variety of projects, from apparel to accessories. It’s particularly useful for projects that demand structure but not necessarily flexibility, such as tote bags or craft items. Non-woven interfacing is user-friendly, making it a popular choice for beginners.
  • Knit Interfacing: As the name suggests, knit interfacing is stretchy, designed to be used with stretch fabrics like jersey or knitwear. It allows the fabric to retain its elasticity, making it essential for sewing projects that require both form and function, such as fitted garments or activewear. Knit interfacing helps to prevent distortion and stretching in areas that need support.

Each type of interfacing has its specific application, and choosing the right one depends on the project at hand. Factors to consider include the weight of the fabric, the desired finish, and the level of flexibility or rigidity required. For instance, a heavy-duty bag might benefit from a sturdy non-woven interfacing, while a delicate blouse would be better suited to a lightweight woven or knit interfacing.

For an in-depth exploration of interfacing types and their applications, Thermoweb offers a comprehensive guide, including tips on how to select the right interfacing for your project. Additionally, for those interested in the thermal properties of interfacing, The Warm Company provides insights into specialized interfacing options like thermal batting. And for a broader range of sewing tips and interfacing techniques, is an invaluable resource, catering to sewers of all skill levels.

Choosing the Right Interfacing

Selecting the appropriate interfacing is a pivotal decision in the sewing process, one that can significantly impact the final appearance and functionality of your project. The choice of interfacing depends on a variety of factors, including the type of fabric you’re working with, the desired level of stiffness or flexibility, and the specific requirements of your sewing project.

When considering the weight of the interfacing, it’s crucial to match it with the fabric. A general rule of thumb is to select an interfacing that is slightly lighter than the fabric to ensure that the fabric’s drape is not adversely affected. For delicate fabrics, such as silk or chiffon, a lightweight, woven interfacing is often the best choice to provide gentle support without adding unnecessary bulk. Conversely, for heavier fabrics like denim or canvas, a sturdier non-woven interfacing can offer the necessary structure for bags, jackets, or home decor items.

The functionality of the finished item also plays a significant role in the selection process. For garments that require movement, such as a fitted blouse or a knit dress, choosing a knit interfacing that stretches with the fabric is essential. This ensures that the interfacing complements the fabric’s properties, allowing for comfort and flexibility. On the other hand, projects that demand rigidity, like a structured handbag or a crisp collar, benefit from a firmer, non-woven or woven interfacing that can hold shape over time.

Understanding the differences between fusible and sew-in interfacing is another critical aspect of making the right choice. Fusible interfacing, with its adhesive backing, offers a quick and easy application method, ideal for many projects. However, it may not be suitable for all fabrics, particularly those sensitive to heat or with textures that could be altered by the adhesive. Sew-in interfacing, while requiring a bit more effort to install, provides a solution for these fabrics, ensuring that the integrity of the material is maintained.

How to Use Interfacing

The application of interfacing is as important as selecting the right type, as it directly affects the quality and longevity of the finished project. For fusible interfacing, the process begins with laying the interfacing adhesive side down on the wrong side of the fabric. Using a pressing cloth to protect the fabric, press with a hot iron without sliding, to activate the adhesive. This method creates a permanent bond that adds structure and support. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding temperature and pressing time to avoid damaging the fabric or interfacing.

Sew-in interfacing requires a different approach. It should be basted to the fabric along the edges or within the seam allowances to keep it in place before the final sewing. This method is particularly useful for fabrics that cannot withstand the heat required for fusible interfacing or when a softer, more flexible finish is desired. Sew-in interfacing can also be quilted to the fabric for added texture and dimension, offering creative possibilities for decorative projects.

Regardless of the type, properly applying interfacing involves careful consideration of the fabric’s characteristics and the project’s requirements. It’s crucial to test the interfacing on a scrap of fabric first, especially when working with fusible types, to ensure compatibility and prevent potential issues. With practice and attention to detail, interfacing can be seamlessly integrated into sewing projects, enhancing their appearance, functionality, and durability.

Advanced Interfacing Techniques

Interfacing in Bag Making

Interfacing is the backbone of any well-structured bag, providing the necessary fabric stabilization to ensure that the bag holds its shape and stands up to daily use. The choice of interfacing can make or break the functionality and aesthetic appeal of a bag, making it an essential consideration in bag making.

  • Structure and Shape: For bags that require a firm structure, such as tote bags or clutches, a heavy-weight, non-woven interfacing or a specialized product like Decovil can be ideal. These materials add stiffness and prevent the fabric from sagging, ensuring that the bag maintains its shape over time.
  • Flexibility and Durability: In contrast, bags that need to be lightweight and flexible, like a grocery tote, might benefit from a lighter interfacing or even a knit interfacing that allows for some stretch. This ensures that the bag can accommodate various items while still providing some level of support.

The interfacing should be chosen based on the bag’s intended use, the weight of the outer fabric, and the desired finish. For example, a crossbody bag that will be used daily requires a durable interfacing that can withstand the stress of movement and weight, whereas a decorative clutch may use a lighter interfacing that focuses on maintaining shape rather than supporting weight.

Applying interfacing in bag making often involves reinforcing not just the main body of the bag but also other components such as straps, flaps, and pockets. This comprehensive approach ensures that every part of the bag functions well and contributes to the overall quality and durability of the finished product.

Creative Uses of Interfacing

Interfacing is not just for traditional sewing projects; its versatility allows for creative applications that can enhance both the functionality and aesthetic of various crafts.

  • Textile Art and Quilting: Interfacing can be used in textile art to provide a stable foundation for embroidery or appliqué, allowing for intricate designs without distorting the fabric. In quilting, lightweight interfacing can stabilize lightweight or stretchy fabrics, making them easier to piece together.
  • Home Decor: For home decor projects such as curtains, cushion covers, or table runners, interfacing can add the necessary body and weight to ensure that the items drape beautifully and withstand regular use. It can also be used to create custom fabric baskets or storage solutions, adding rigidity to otherwise soft materials.

Interfacing can also be repurposed in innovative ways, such as creating stiffened fabric for DIY jewelry or using fusible interfacing to patch holes in garments or linens. The key is to think beyond its conventional uses and explore how interfacing can solve common sewing challenges or bring creative ideas to life.

By experimenting with different types of interfacing and their applications, sewers can discover new techniques and uses that elevate their sewing projects. Whether it’s adding structure to a handmade bag or exploring new realms of textile art, interfacing is a valuable tool in any sewer’s arsenal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What weight of interfacing should I use for my project?

The weight of interfacing you should use largely depends on the fabric you’re working with and the desired outcome of your project. As a general rule, the interfacing should be slightly lighter than the fabric to ensure that it supports without overpowering the fabric’s natural drape. For lightweight fabrics like silk or chiffon, opt for a lightweight interfacing to maintain fluidity. For medium-weight fabrics such as cotton or linen, a medium-weight interfacing can provide the necessary stability without stiffness. Heavyweight fabrics like denim or canvas may require a heavier interfacing for projects that demand structure, such as bags or belts.

Can batting be used as a substitute for interfacing?

Batting can be used as a substitute for interfacing in certain projects, particularly in quilting or when a softer, more padded effect is desired. However, it’s important to note that batting does not provide the same level of stiffness and support as traditional interfacing. It’s best suited for projects where a quilted texture or additional warmth is beneficial, such as in pot holders, quilted jackets, or soft toys. For projects requiring crisp edges or firm support, traditional interfacing is recommended.

How do I choose between fusible and sew-in interfacing?

Choosing between fusible and sew-in interfacing depends on the fabric type, the application process you prefer, and the final use of the item. Fusible interfacing is convenient and time-saving, ideal for most fabrics and projects. It’s especially useful for providing smooth, even support in garments. However, for very delicate fabrics that might be damaged by heat, or for items that will be frequently washed and require the interfacing to maintain its bond, sew-in interfacing is a better choice. Sew-in interfacing is also preferred for projects where a softer, more flexible finish is desired.

Tips for avoiding common interfacing mistakes

  • Test First: Always test the interfacing on a scrap of your fabric to ensure compatibility and to adjust the iron’s heat settings if using fusible interfacing.
  • Grainline Alignment: For woven interfacing, make sure to align the interfacing’s grainline with the fabric’s grainline to maintain the fabric’s natural movement.
  • Avoid Overheating: When applying fusible interfacing, avoid overheating or moving the iron too much, as this can cause bubbling or distortion.
  • Trim Seam Allowances: For sew-in interfacing, trim the interfacing’s seam allowances to reduce bulk before sewing the pieces together.
  • Use the Correct Weight: Choosing an interfacing that is too heavy can make the fabric stiff and unwieldy, while too light interfacing may not provide enough support.


Interfacing is an indispensable tool in the sewing world, offering structure, support, and durability to a wide range of projects. From ensuring that garments maintain their shape to providing the necessary stiffness in bag making, interfacing can dramatically improve the quality and finish of your sewing projects. Whether you opt for fusible or sew-in, woven, non-woven, or knit, understanding how to select and apply the right interfacing is key to achieving professional results.

Remember, the secret to successful interfacing lies in choosing the appropriate type and weight for your fabric and project needs. Testing on a scrap piece before proceeding with your project can save time and frustration. Moreover, exploring creative uses of interfacing can open up new possibilities in your sewing endeavors, from textile art to innovative home decor.

As you continue to experiment and learn, interfacing will become a trusted ally in your sewing toolkit, enabling you to tackle projects with confidence and achieve outcomes that stand the test of time. Whether you’re a seasoned sewer or just beginning your journey, mastering the basics of interfacing is a step toward unlocking the full potential of your sewing skills.