Sewing: What Is Interfacing?

Are you new to sewing and wondering why some fabrics have an extra layer of material attached to them? That extra layer is called interfacing, and it plays a crucial role in creating professional-looking and well-structured garments and accessories. In this article, we'll dive into the world of interfacing and explore its different types, how to choose the right one, and tips for working with it. So grab your sewing needles and let's get started!

What is interfacing?

Interfacing is a material that is used in sewing projects to provide support, stability, and structure to certain areas of a garment or accessory. It is typically applied to areas such as collars, cuffs, waistbands, and buttonholes to prevent them from sagging or losing their shape over time. Interfacing can be made from various materials, including woven or non-woven fabrics, and comes in different weights and types.

Types of interfacing

Fusible interfacing

Fusible interfacing is one of the most commonly used types. It has a special adhesive on one side, which is activated by heat and pressure. This allows it to bond with the fabric when ironed. Fusible interfacing is easy to use and provides a crisp and permanent finish. It is suitable for a wide range of projects, such as collars, cuffs, and waistbands.

Sew-in interfacing

Sew-in interfacing, as the name suggests, is stitched into place rather than being bonded with heat. It is flexible and provides a softer structure compared to fusible interfacing. Sew-in interfacing is ideal for projects where you want more control over the shaping and structure, such as tailored garments.

Knit interfacing

Knit interfacing is specifically designed for use with stretchy fabrics like jersey and knits. It has a certain amount of stretch and flexibility, allowing it to provide stability without compromising the fabric's stretchiness. Knit interfacing is great for projects where you want to maintain the fabric's stretch, such as jersey dresses or t-shirts.

How to choose the right interfacing

When selecting interfacing for your project, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about the weight and type of fabric you're working with. If you're using a lightweight fabric, choose a lightweight interfacing to avoid adding unnecessary bulk. Similarly, if you're working with a heavyweight fabric, opt for a heavier interfacing for adequate support and structure.

Next, consider the type of project and the desired results. If you're making a garment that requires a crisp look, such as a tailored blazer, opt for a fusible interfacing that provides a more rigid structure. On the other hand, if you're making a flowy blouse, a sew-in interfacing would be a better choice for a softer and more relaxed draping.

Preparing fabric and interfacing

Before applying interfacing to your fabric, it's important to prepare both materials properly. Start by washing and drying your fabric according to its care instructions. This step ensures that any shrinkage happens before you sew, preventing any distortion after the garment is finished.

Once your fabric is ready, trim and cut your interfacing to match the pattern pieces. It's crucial to cut the interfacing slightly smaller than the fabric to avoid creating unwanted bulk at the seam allowances. An easy way to do this is to trace the pattern piece onto the interfacing and then trim it down by about 1/8 inch on all sides.

Applying fusible interfacing

If you're using fusible interfacing, ironing it onto your fabric is relatively straightforward. Start by placing the interfacing adhesive side down onto the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure to align it with the pattern piece and leave a small margin around the edges to prevent any adhesive from seeping out.

Next, set your iron to the appropriate heat setting for your fabric and interfacing. Place a pressing cloth, such as a thin cotton or muslin fabric, over the interfacing to protect it from direct heat. Apply gentle pressure and slowly move the iron over the interfacing for about 10-15 seconds in each section. Make sure to lift and reposition the iron instead of sliding it to avoid distorting the fabric.

Once you've ironed the interfacing onto the fabric, let it cool down and settle for a few minutes before handling it. This allows the adhesive to bond with the fabric properly and ensures a secure and long-lasting finish.

Sewing with sew-in interfacing

If you're using sew-in interfacing, you'll need to baste and stitch it into place. Start by pinning the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric, aligning the edges. Using a hand-basting stitch or a long machine stitch, baste the interfacing to the fabric within the seam allowance.

Once basted, sew the fabric and interfacing together using your regular sewing machine stitch. Make sure to sew within the seam allowance to ensure that the stitching doesn't show on the right side of the fabric. Once sewn, you can remove the basting stitches if desired.

When sewing with sew-in interfacing, it's important to be mindful of the added bulk. Trim down the seam allowances or grade them to reduce bulk and achieve a clean and professional finish.

Working with knit interfacing

Knit interfacing requires a slightly different approach compared to woven interfacing. Since it needs to accommodate the stretch of the fabric, it's essential to handle it carefully. Stretch the interfacing slightly as you apply it to the fabric, ensuring that it matches the stretch of the fabric.

When sewing knit interfacing, choose a stitch that allows for stretchability, such as a narrow zigzag or a stretch stitch on your sewing machine. Test the stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure that it stretches with the fabric without creating any puckering or distortion.

Troubleshooting common interfacing issues

While interfacing can enhance your sewing projects, it can sometimes present challenges. Here are some common issues you may encounter and their solutions:

Bubbling or wrinkling

If the interfacing bubbles or wrinkles after ironing, it may be due to insufficient heat or pressure. Make sure to use the correct heat setting on your iron and apply even pressure throughout the ironing process. Additionally, ensure that the adhesive side of the interfacing is in direct contact with the fabric.

Interfacing showing through fabric

If the interfacing is visible from the right side of the fabric, it may be because the interfacing is too heavy for the fabric or the fabric is too sheer. Consider using a lighter weight interfacing or choose a fabric with a tighter weave to prevent the interfacing from showing through.

Interfacing not adhering properly

If the fusible interfacing doesn't stick properly to the fabric, check your iron's temperature and ensure that you're applying the right amount of pressure. It's also essential to use a pressing cloth to protect the interfacing from direct heat, as excessive heat can cause the adhesive to melt or evaporate. If the interfacing still doesn't adhere, you may need to try a different brand or type.

Alternatives to interfacing

While interfacing is commonly used in sewing, there are alternatives you can explore depending on your project and desired results. One alternative is using self-fabric facings, which involves cutting additional pieces of fabric and attaching them to the garment to provide structure and support. Another option is experimenting with different stabilizers and supports, such as bias tape, twill tape, or ribbon, to achieve the desired results.


Interfacing plays a vital role in sewing projects by providing support and structure to certain areas of garments and accessories. By understanding the different types of interfacing, choosing the right one for your project, and applying it correctly, you can elevate your sewing skills and create professional-looking finished pieces. So go ahead and experiment with different types of interfacing to achieve your desired results. Happy sewing!

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