What is Interfacing in Sewing?

So you've started your sewing journey and you're encountering a new term: interfacing. You might be wondering, "What is interfacing and why is it important in sewing?" Well, fear not! In this beginner's guide, we'll dive into the world of interfacing, its purpose, different types, and how to use it effectively in your sewing projects.

What is Interfacing?

Interfacing is a material that is used to add structure, stability, and support to certain areas of a garment. It is typically applied to areas such as collars, cuffs, waistbands, and buttonholes to prevent them from flopping or stretching out. In simple terms, interfacing acts as a reinforcement for specific parts of your garment.

The Purpose of Interfacing

Now that we know what interfacing is, let's understand its purpose. Interfacing adds body and shape to areas that need extra support, keeping your garment looking crisp and professional. It helps maintain the intended shape of collars, cuffs, and waistbands, making them stand out and retain their structure over time.

Types of Interfacing

There are several types of interfacing available, each with its own characteristics and best uses. Here are the most common ones:

Fusible Interfacing

Fusible interfacing is the most popular type and is easily found in fabric stores. It has an adhesive side that bonds to fabric when heat is applied. Some examples include Pellon 911FF and HeatnBond. To use fusible interfacing, simply place the adhesive side onto the wrong side of your fabric, cover it with a press cloth, and press with an iron.

Sew-In Interfacing

Sew-in interfacing, as the name suggests, needs to be stitched onto fabric. It provides a softer and more flexible result compared to fusible interfacing. Pellon SF101 and Shape-Flex are common examples of sew-in interfacing. To use sew-in interfacing, baste or stitch it onto the wrong side of your fabric, following the pattern instructions.

Lightweight, Medium-weight, and Heavy-weight Interfacing

Interfacing comes in different weights to suit various fabric types and desired effects. Lightweight interfacing is best for delicate fabrics such as silk or chiffon, adding minimal structure. Medium-weight interfacing is versatile and works well for most garments. Heavy-weight interfacing is ideal for fabrics that require significant support, like denim or heavy wool.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Interfacing

Choosing the right interfacing is crucial to achieve the desired results. Here are some factors to consider:

Fabric Type

Take into account the weight, drape, and stretch of your fabric. Lightweight fabrics require interfacing that won't weigh them down, while heavy fabrics need a stronger support.

Garment Type

The type of garment you're making will also dictate the type of interfacing needed. A tailored blazer, for example, will require a sturdier interfacing compared to a flowy dress.

Desired Level of Support

Think about how much structure you want to add to the specific areas of your garment. Some projects may require a subtle reinforcement, while others might need a more pronounced effect.


Consider how often the garment will be washed and choose interfacing that can withstand the washing method and frequency.

How to Interface a Garment

Now that you know the different types of interfacing and the factors to consider, let's learn how to effectively apply interfacing to your garment.

Fusing Interfacing

If using fusible interfacing, follow these steps:

  1. Preheat your iron to the appropriate temperature for your fabric and interfacing.
  2. Cut the interfacing piece slightly smaller than the area it will be applied to.
  3. Place the adhesive side of the interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric.
  4. Cover with a press cloth to protect your fabric and prevent the iron from sticking to the adhesive.
  5. Press the iron over the interfacing, holding it in place for the suggested time (usually a few seconds).

Sewing Interfacing

If using sew-in interfacing, follow these steps:

  1. Cut the interfacing to match the pattern piece.
  2. Place the interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric, aligning the edges.
  3. Baste or stitch the interfacing to the fabric, following the pattern instructions. Be sure to use a stitch length suitable for your fabric weight.

Remember to test the interfacing on a scrap fabric before applying it to your actual project. This will give you an idea of how the interfacing will affect the fabric and allow you to make any necessary adjustments.

Tips for Applying Interfacing Evenly

Here are some tips to ensure a smooth and even application of interfacing:

  • Use a pressing cloth to protect your fabric from the heat and prevent the adhesive from sticking to your iron.
  • Apply the interfacing on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
  • Avoid stretching or distorting the fabric while applying the interfacing.
  • Allow the fabric and interfacing to cool completely before moving or handling.
  • Trim any excess interfacing to reduce bulkiness.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Interfacing

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure successful interfacing:

  • Using the wrong type of interfacing for your fabric or desired effect.
  • Over-pressing the interfacing, which can cause it to become stiff or create bubbles.
  • Not pre-shrinking the interfacing if it's prone to shrinking.
  • Not testing the interfacing on a scrap fabric before applying it to your project.

Interfacing Troubleshooting

Despite your best efforts, interfacing issues can still arise. Here are some common problems and how to address them:

Interfacing Bubbling or Peeling

Possible causes for interfacing bubbling or peeling can include using too high heat, improper application, or a low-quality interfacing. To fix this issue, try reapplying the interfacing with a lower heat setting and make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. If the problem persists, consider using a higher-quality interfacing.

Interfacing Showing Through Fabric

If you notice the interfacing showing through your fabric, it could be due to using a heavyweight interfacing on a sheer or lightweight fabric. To solve this issue, consider using a lightweight interfacing or testing the interfacing on scrap fabric to gauge the level of visibility.

Interfacing Making Fabric Stiff or Bulky

If your fabric feels stiff or becomes bulky after applying the interfacing, it may be due to using a heavyweight interfacing on a fabric that doesn't require such strong support. Consider using a lighter interfacing or adjusting the weight based on your fabric type and desired effect.

Final Thoughts on Using Interfacing

Interfacing is a crucial component in achieving professional-looking garments. It provides the necessary structure and support to specific areas, ensuring that your collars stand tall, cuffs hold their shape, and waistbands remain firm. By considering the fabric type, garment type, desired level of support, and following proper application techniques, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of interfacing. Happy sewing!

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