Click to EnlargeIt’s tempting to skip it, but it’s a lot like the difference between a nicely toned body and one that isn’t. Just like you can skip exercising, you can skip interfacing. But, it won’t be a secret. Which reminds me… I need to go for a jog!

Interfacing is a textile that is either sewn in or fused on using a steam iron, between layers of fabric, to give it structure and body. Interfacing in itself is not very exciting, but it is one of the keys to achieving a professional look to your project. If you are new to sewing, you may never have run across interfacing because it’s not something that shows when your project is done. Most familiar to people is the way a dress shirt has a more substantial collar, placket and cuff. That smooth crispness comes from the interfacing hidden inside. Without interfacing, collars and cuffs would be limp and buttons and buttonholes would rip.

Click to EnlargeIt’s tempting to skip it, but it’s a lot like the difference between a nicely toned body and one that isn’t. Just like you can skip exercising, you can skip interfacing. But, it won’t be a secret. Which reminds me… I need to go for a jog!

Interfacing is a textile that is either sewn in or fused on using a steam iron, between layers of fabric, to give it structure and body. Interfacing in itself is not very exciting, but it is one of the keys to achieving a professional look to your project. If you are new to sewing, you may never have run across interfacing because it’s not something that shows when your project is done. Most familiar to people is the way a dress shirt has a more substantial collar, placket and cuff. That smooth crispness comes from the interfacing hidden inside. Without interfacing, collars and cuffs would be limp and buttons and buttonholes would rip.

Types of Interfacing

There are many interfacing options on the market, and they are available in a number of weights. A good rule of thumb is to select an interfacing that is a little bit lighter in weight than your fabric:

Knit Interfacing

Usually made of nylon tricot, it’s made to use with knit fabrics because it’s stretchy like knits. While knits are used more in garment sewing than in home décor, when you do have the need, be sure to lay the stretch of the fabric and the interfacing the same direction.

Woven Interfacing

Treat woven interfacing like you would any woven fabric. Cut along the grainline in the same way you grain.

Non-Woven Interfacing

Because there is no grainline, you can lay out and cut non-woven interfacing however you like. You can also choose between between fusible and sew-in interfacing.

Fusible Interfacing

Also called iron-on interfacing, this interfacing is fused to your fabric using a steam iron. When using pressing cloth between surfaces. This will prevent any sticky residue from welding itself to your iron or damaging your ironing board cover. Fusible interfacing is often what is used to give dress shirts those crisp collars and cuffs. When done properly, the results are beautiful. Fusibles are also good for fabrics that fray. They are less compatible with fabrics like lace or other openwork fabrics, do not adhere well to beaded or heavily embroidered fabric, and iffy with highly textured fabrics. I always test fusible interfacing on a scrap to determine the proper heat setting of my iron and amount of steam. Let it cool and check the final result. Another consideration is the level of heat your fabric can take must be high enough to fuse the interfacing, or look for Cool Fuse interfacing. Manufacturer’s instructions have specific instructions for each type of interfacing.

Sew-In Interfacing

Sew-in interfacing provides body but somewhat less crispness than fusibles. Sometimes that exactly what you want, like when you want some body, but still want to retain drape.

How is Interfacing Used?

In home décor, interfacing is often used in items like place mats and table runners where you want a more body. You might add interfacing to curtain tie-backs, for example, so they are taut and crisp looking. When you want crispness or “bones” in your project, you’ll probably want to add interfacing. Most fabric store sales staff are familiar with the pros and cons of their products, so don’t hesitate to ask if you are unsure.

Where Can I Buy Interfacing?

Interfacing is available at most fabric stores of any size; and like everything else — online. Interfacing is generally grouped together in one section of the fabric store, so it’s easy to compare options. Read pattern instructions to understand how much and what kind to buy.

Before You Cut!

Interfacing should be prewashed in the same way as your fabric. This is important so I’m going to say it again. Prewash your interfacing as you do your fabric. If you don’t, when you do launder your completed project, you will find that your fabric and your interfacing shrink different amounts leading to bubbles and warping that can’t be ironed out.

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Margit
Margit
11 days ago

I used sew in interfacing on cotton placemats I made. I prewashed the cotton, but did not prewash the interfacing. I guess my cotton is thin, which is why I decided to use interfacing. Between sewing and ironing the cotton stretched but the interfacing did not, so I have these ugly placemats which do not lay flat. Any suggestions.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
11 days ago
Reply to  Margit

Hi Margit – wow … this is an older article I’d almost forgotten about 🙂 – but the info is still relevant. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic fix fo your dilemma. If you want to salvage them, you could rip out the seam, trim down the size all around so they do lay flat, and then re-sew. Pretty much starting over. You could cut up the center area, which I’m assuming is probably the flattest part, and create some cute double-sided coasters. Or, you could say, “lesson learned!” and recycle them, starting anew with the pre-washing step.

Melissa Compton
Melissa Compton
1 year ago

I am making a floor pouf from outdoor upholstery fabric and a canvas. Do I need to use some sort of interfacing with it? Or a fusible fleece?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
1 year ago

It will depend on what your main inside form is. We like to use upholstery foam wrapped with high loft batting. It you’re doing something similar for your inner form, you are unlikely to also need additional interfacing with such heavy fabrics.

Melissa Compton
Melissa Compton
1 year ago
Reply to  Liz Johnson

I am stuffing it with as much poly fill in an inner bag as I can get into it and it still feel comfortable with a little give. I am either going to use a mesh laundry bag I already have or make a bag from an old sheet for the inner bag. This is not for anyone else but me for my swelling legs at work. But, I don’t want it to be too flimsy. I have never worked with the outdoor upholstery fabric before.

Melissa Compton
Melissa Compton
1 year ago

So with the above comment, do you think I will need it?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
1 year ago

With such heavy fabrics, it doubt you need interfacing.

Melissa Compton
Melissa Compton
1 year ago
Reply to  Liz Johnson

Thank you so much.

Necia
Necia
1 year ago

If I dont have button holes or stiff collars why would I bother using interfacing?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Necia

Hi Necia – Wow – this is quite an old article – time to update I think 🙂 – I did link below to a more recent article we did about interfacing choices specificaly for bags and totes. But, in general, we use interfacing on nearly every project we do. There are many kinds for many purposes, from stabilizing a pocket, to giving structure to a box or basket, to creating the best form and function for a big, tote or wallet. You could hop around the various projects here at the site, scroll down to the supplies and cut… Read more »

Wendy
Wendy
1 year ago

I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor. Prewash? Really? I know you said it twice, but in my mind the ‘fuse’ would wash away. So, repeat this for me…I take a length of the fusible interfacing and toss it into the washing machine, just like I prewash my fabric?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Wendy

Hi Wendy – I’m glad you asked, mostly because I’d almost totally forgotten about this article it was done so long ago (2009!). It should be updated with more detail! Another thing on the to-do list. But, yes, in general most people agree it’s a good idea to pre-shrink interfacings, especially for garments. For other items, likes bags, baskets, pillows, etc. that you are unlikely to wash repeatedly, if at all, it’s not a hard and fast rule. From on more recent article on pre-shrinking in general, here’s what we say: Some interfacings indicate they are preshrunk and ready to… Read more »

Cielito F Locsin
Cielito F Locsin
2 years ago

My fusible interfacing became dirty. Can I wash it before use? Will washing it damage the glue?

Bonnie
Bonnie
2 years ago

where can i purchase just two yds. of interfacing or do I have to buy a bolt?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie

@Bonnie – Most online retailers offer interfacing by the yard. Try Joann Fabrics for a starting point.

Anthony Holt
Anthony Holt
2 years ago

Can fusible interfacing he used to make face masks?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Anthony Holt

@Anthony – It is not a good choice for making an entire mask, but many people are using a single layer of interfacing as a filter between the layers of cotton that make up the mask itself.

Cielito F Locsin
Cielito F Locsin
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz Johnson

Can you tell me why it is not good for face masks?

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson
2 years ago

@Cielito – Our area of expertise is how to use interfacing to stabilize sewing projects so we are not experts on its use as a filtering layer. Many people have used interfacing as an additional layer of filtration between layers of a personal cotton mask. We don’t have any experience with it being used by itself to make a mask. We can’t speak at all regarding what is best in a healthcare environment, but if making a mask for your personal use, a layer of interfacing between layers of cotton can provide an additional bit of protection. Remember, the goal… Read more »

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