What is Interfacing for Sewing?

Are you just starting your sewing journey and feeling overwhelmed by all the different terms and techniques? Don't worry, we've got you covered! In this beginner's guide, we will demystify sewing interfacing and show you how to use it to enhance your garments. Sewing interfacing may seem like a complicated concept, but once you understand its purpose and learn how to choose and apply it correctly, you'll wonder how you ever sewed without it. So let's dive right in!

What is sewing interfacing?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let's start with the basics. Sewing interfacing is a material that is used to add structure, support, and stability to fabric. It is often used in areas of a garment that need reinforcement, such as collars, cuffs, and waistbands. Interfacing can be applied to both the facing and the main fabric to create a clean and professional finish.

Definition and purpose of sewing interfacing

Put simply, sewing interfacing is like a hidden layer that lies between the fabric layers of a garment. Its purpose is to provide stability to areas that may otherwise sag or lose their shape over time. Imagine it as the "glue" that holds together the fabric and keeps everything in place. By providing structure, interfacing ensures that your garments maintain their shape and look professional.

Types of sewing interfacing

Now that we know what sewing interfacing is and why it's important, let's explore the different types available:

Fusible interfacing

Fusible interfacing is the most commonly used type. It has an adhesive side that, when activated by heat, sticks to the fabric. This type of interfacing is convenient and easy to use, as it adheres to the fabric with just an iron. Keep in mind that fusible interfacing comes in various weights, so choose one that best suits your fabric and desired result.

Sew-in interfacing

As the name suggests, sew-in interfacing is sewn onto the fabric. It doesn't have adhesive properties and requires stitches to secure it in place. This type of interfacing is often used for fabrics that cannot be ironed or for areas where extra strength is needed. Sew-in interfacing provides more control during application and can be easily removed if needed.

Non-fusible interfacing

Non-fusible interfacing, also known as sew-on or traditional interfacing, is similar to sew-in interfacing. It doesn't have adhesive properties and requires stitches to attach it to the fabric. This type of interfacing is suitable for lightweight fabrics or when you want a softer and more flexible result.

Choosing the right interfacing

Now that we know about the different types of sewing interfacing, how do we choose the right one?

Consider the fabric type

The first thing to consider is the type of fabric you're working with. Is it lightweight and delicate, like silk? Or is it heavy and structured, like denim? The fabric type will determine the weight and type of interfacing you'll need. For delicate fabrics, choose a lightweight interfacing to prevent adding unnecessary bulk. For heavy fabrics, opt for a sturdier interfacing that can provide the necessary support.

Consider the garment style

Another factor to consider is the style of the garment you're making. Is it a structured jacket with a collar? Or a flowing dress with a lightweight fabric? The garment style will dictate the type of interfacing you'll need. For structured garments, sew-in interfacing is often the preferred choice as it adds stability without compromising flexibility. For softer and drapier garments, fusible interfacing or non-fusible interfacing may be more suitable.

Consider the desired result

Lastly, think about the overall result you want to achieve. Do you want a stiff and crisp collar? Or a soft and subtle level of support? The desired result will guide your choice of interfacing weight and type. A heavyweight fusible interfacing will give you a stiffer result, while a lightweight interfacing will provide a more flexible and natural drape.

Preparing the fabric and interfacing

Now that we've chosen the right interfacing, it's time to prepare our fabric.

Pre-washing the fabric

It's essential to pre-wash your fabric before applying the interfacing. Washing and drying the fabric helps remove any sizing, shrinkage, or potential changes in texture. Pre-washing ensures that both the fabric and interfacing will react to heat and moisture in a consistent manner.

Cutting the interfacing

When cutting your interfacing, make sure to cut it slightly smaller than the fabric pieces. This will prevent the interfacing from peeking out from the edges of the garment and ensure a clean finish.

Testing the interfacing

Before applying the interfacing to your garment, it's a good idea to test it on a scrap piece of fabric. Iron a small piece of the interfacing onto the scrap fabric according to the manufacturer's instructions. This will help you ensure that the interfacing adheres properly and that the heat and duration are suitable for your fabric type.

Applying the interfacing

Now comes the fun part – applying the interfacing to your fabric! The application process varies depending on the type of interfacing you're using.

Fusible interfacing application

If you're using fusible interfacing, follow these steps:

1. Preheat your iron:

Set your iron to the appropriate temperature for your fabric and interfacing. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for specific guidelines.

2. Position the interfacing:

Place the adhesive side of the interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure the edges match up, leaving a margin of space around the edges of the fabric pieces.

3. Apply heat and pressure:

Press the iron onto the fabric and interfacing using firm pressure. Move the iron around, ensuring that each section receives heat and pressure evenly. Avoid dragging the iron as it may shift the interfacing out of place.

4. Allow to cool and bond:

After ironing, allow the fabric and interfacing to cool completely before handling. This will ensure that the adhesive fully bonds with the fabric, creating a strong and durable connection.

Sew-in interfacing application

If you've opted for sew-in interfacing, follow these steps:

1. Position the interfacing:

Place the sew-in interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric. Pin or baste it in place using straight stitches, ensuring that all edges are aligned.

2. Sew the interfacing:

Using a suitable stitch length, sew around the edges of the interfacing, securing it to the fabric. Make sure to sew close to the edge to prevent the interfacing from shifting or coming loose.

3. Trim excess interfacing:

Carefully trim any excess interfacing that extends beyond the fabric edges. Be cautious not to cut into the fabric itself.

Non-fusible interfacing application

If you're working with non-fusible interfacing, follow these steps:

1. Position the interfacing:

Place the non-fusible interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric. Pin it in place to ensure it doesn't shift during the next steps.

2. Apply fabric adhesive:

Using a fabric adhesive or spray adhesive, lightly apply it to the back of the interfacing. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for precise application techniques.

3. Press the interfacing:

Gently press the interfacing onto the fabric, ensuring that it adheres evenly. Take care not to apply too much pressure, as it may cause the adhesive to seep through the fabric.

Tips for successful interfacing application

Now that you know how to apply interfacing, here are some additional tips for a successful outcome:

Use a pressing cloth

When ironing fusible interfacing, place a pressing cloth between the interfacing and the iron. This will protect both the fabric and the interfacing from direct heat and prevent any potential damage.

Keep the iron moving

When using a hot iron to activate fusible interfacing, avoid leaving it in one spot for too long. Keep the iron moving to distribute the heat evenly and prevent scorching or overheating the fabric.

Allow the interfacing to cool and bond

After applying interfacing, allow the fabric and interfacing to cool completely before handling or sewing any seams. This will ensure that the adhesive fully bonds with the fabric and creates a strong and long-lasting connection.

Troubleshooting common interfacing problems

Even with the correct technique, sometimes things don't go as planned. Here are some common interfacing problems and how to troubleshoot them:

Interfacing bubbling or separating

If you notice bubbling or separating of the interfacing after application, try applying more pressure and heat during ironing. Use a pressing cloth and ensure that you have ironed the interfacing evenly and thoroughly.

Interfacing not adhering

If the interfacing doesn't adhere to the fabric, try using a different type of interfacing that is better suited for your fabric. Additionally, check the iron temperature and adjust it accordingly. If your iron is not hot enough, the adhesive may not activate properly.

Interfacing showing through the fabric

If your interfacing is visible on the right side of the fabric, choose a color or weight of interfacing that matches your fabric. Additionally, ensure that you have cut the interfacing slightly smaller than the fabric pieces to prevent it from peeking out from the edges.


Congratulations, you've completed the beginner's guide to sewing interfacing! You now have a solid understanding of what sewing interfacing is, its purpose, and how to choose and apply it correctly. By adding interfacing to your garments, you'll elevate the look and feel of your creations and bring a professional touch to your sewing projects. So go ahead and give it a try – you won't be disappointed!

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