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Cotton: Interfacing

cotton interfacing

After a fun week of sewing, I’m nearly all caught up in the Grainline Archer Sew-Along! One of the first steps I had to tackle was interfacing key pieces like the cuffs, collar, and button placket. While Jen has gone above and beyond in her posts on interfacing the Archer here and here, I figured I’d also add some quotes I found informative while reading up on the subject in Susan Khalje’s book Linen and Cotton. It seems interfacing is quite an important component of sewing well! Susan says:

Interfacing is a layer of fabric inserted between the fashion fabric and a facing. It’s one of the most important tools a sewer has, for it lends support and structure, which can be subtle or pronounced, to specific areas of a garment. It reinforces, shapes, and stabilizes specific areas, controls stretching, adds body, supports the weight of the garment, and sets off details. If well chosen and carefully applied, it can do wonders for the integrity of a garment, whether in the small details of a collar or cuff or in its overall strength…

Choices for fusibles include tricot (knit), weft-insertion (in which stabilizing threads are inserted crosswise into a tricot), warp-insertion (in which stabilizing threads are inserted lengthwise into a tricot), all bias, and non-stretch. Fusibles are available in a limited, but generally adequate range of colors (white, black, sometimes beige and gray)…

Choices for woven sew-ins include silk organza (soft and crisp), cotton batiste (soft and strong in a gentle way), muslin (sturdy), taffeta (lightweight but firm), self-fabric (the most compatible of all if it’s not too bulky), and non-woven sew-ins…

If you can believe it, that’s just a small fraction of the five pages of the book devoted to interfacing. I’m curious; is there anything about interfacing that you’re particularly interested in learning more about? Also, what are your interfacing secrets?

UPDATE: I’ve removed a bulk of the quotes I’d originally put into this post because it was brought to my attention that I might be infringing on the book’s copyright by including so much material. I in no way want to do a disservice to the author or the publisher by reproducing too much of their work. Thank you for understanding.

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12 thoughts on “Cotton: Interfacing

  1. I’m not sure how you might pre-shrink fusible interfacing safely. By treating it like lace perhaps? I tend to use the sew-in kind most of the time, just out of personal preference. I can’t really explain why I like it. I guess fusible interfacings sometimes seem to make the fabric look like a piece of fabric covered card, and I find I don’t really trust them. With sew-in interfacings I also have a lot more choice.

    I don’t think I have any special tricks or tips when it comes to interfacings. I use lightweight non-fusible interfacing to make my favourite patterns up so that they last a good long time (and then include any alterations that I have made). I just use it like tracing paper, and prefer it to muslin as it doesn’t fray and is cheaper, as well as being easier to draw on with a permanent marker.

    Does anyone else still make their own shoulder pads out of a stack of sewn together parts (including interfacings)? It looks so much better than the manufactured foam things.

    I do sometimes, when sewing stretchy fabrics, add a thin strip of knit interfacing along vertical seams, to help reinforce the stitching and prevent puckering. This last is more laziness than anything. Otherwise I would need to alter my bobin tension every time I use the zig zag attachment (remember this is an old straight-stitch machine). With delicate fabrics I’ll use tissue paper or embroidery stabiliser instead.

  2. I’m curious about prewashing fusibles, too. I’m just not sure how that would work! For fancier projects, I’ve used interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply– it’s lovely, and it doesn’t shrink.

  3. From what I remember, you soak it in warm water for twenty or so minutes and then lay it to dry. You want to make sure it won’t develop creases since you can’t iron them out.

  4. You do realize that you can’t reproduce a whole chapter from someone’s book on your blog, don’t you? It’s a copyright violation. A quotation here and there comes free under “fair use” but a whole chapter or more than 10% is definitely not allowed. The publishers can take action against your blog.

    1. Oh! Thank you! I thought attributing the quotes would be enough. I definitely don’t want to harm the author or the publisher, so I will edit my post to take out a bulk of the quotes. Thanks again!

  5. Good for you getting caught up on the sew along! I hope to do just that this weekend. I’ve been experimenting with sew-in interfacing and using muslin or self fabric lately, and I’ve definitely gained a better feel for pairing fabric with interfacing of an appropriate weight. My biggest issue with fusible is that I can’t seem to get it to stay fused through multiple washings. Higher quality interfacing and better technique would probably help, but for the basic dresses, tops, skirts, etc that I have been making sew-in interfacings have been working great.

  6. One thing they do in the fashion industry is cut the fusible interfacing 1/8″-1/4″ish smaller than the pattern piece, so you don’t risk ruining your iron or ironing board (or ruin future fabrics used on the iron and ironing board) with the glue if the pieces don’t match up perfectly. Does that make sense? It is really helpful to do that. You can use the same pattern piece, just cut a bit inside the lines. : )

  7. I have not had much luck with fusible interfacing – even the more expensive brands. They just do not seem to fuse properly even with iron temp at recommended levels. Then to add insult to injury they often bubble after a few washes. I have had near perfect results with sew in types and use these almost exclusively.

  8. Whoa. That’s a lot on interfacing. A whole five pages. Thanks for the information and tips and I don’t think you’re disservicing the author by posting.

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