5 February 2013

Interfacing Fabric

Interfacing is used in sewing to stiffen areas of a garment that need a bit of extra structure or firmness – such as cuffs, collars and waistbands.

You can get lots of different types of interfacing – iron-on or stitch-in; woven, non-woven (with an almost papery feel) or knit; black or white; lightweight to heavyweight; in packs or by the metre. Which one you choose will depend on what fabric you’re using – the main thing to ensure is that the interfacing is a similar weight to the fabric so that it makes it just stiff enough. I generally keep a stash of lightweight, mediumweight and heavyweight interfacing so I’ve always got something to match what I’m making. (If you’re using sheer fabrics, which interfacing would show through, you can attach a layer of fine fabric such as organza instead.)

On the Miette Skirt, apply interfacing to three of the waistband pieces.

On the Mathilde Blouse, you need to apply interfacing to:
- front neckline facing
- back neckline facings
- cuff bands
- back opening facings – between the fold line and the seam allowance.

Iron-on interfacing is easy to use. It has a sticky side - with little blobs or lines of glue on it - and a non-sticky side - which you can draw on.

Here’s how to apply iron-on interfacing:

1) Cut the interfacing to the shape of the pieces it needs to be applied to, using your pattern as a template. I like to draw around my pattern in biro onto the non-sticky side, then cut the pieces out. If the shape I need is simply a rectangle, such as for the back opening facing of the Mathilde Blouse, I like to measure the shape on the pattern and draw it straight onto my interfacing. (See also alternative method below.)

2) Place your fabric piece on an ironing board, wrong side facing up. Position the interfacing on top of it, sticky side facing down. Place a pressing cloth on top – I use a piece of muslin, or you could use another piece of fabric or even a tea towel. (Note: my pressing cloth isn’t in the photo so you can see the interfacing.) Gently press down onto the fabric with a hot dry iron for a few seconds to allow the sticky side to melt and adhere to the fabric.

Make sure the sticky side of the interfacing doesn’t come into contact with your iron, or it’ll leave a horrible burnt glue mark (yes, I’ve done this – doh!). Also be careful not to move the iron around or the interfacing might get squidged up into a sticky mess – just keep the iron static.

And that’s all there is to it!

Alternative methods:

If you need to interface small fiddly pieces like a shaped collar on slippery fabric that is liable to move around when you cut it, you could press some interfacing onto the fabric before cutting out. This method does waste a bit of interfacing, but it saves time and hassle. Your call.

If you don’t want to stiffen your seams – perhaps if the garment you’re making involves lots of layers, or the fabric is thin and you don’t want the seams bulking up – you may want to cut your interfacing so that it fits the stitching lines of the fabric pieces rather than the cutting lines. I must admit I rarely have the patience to do this unless absolutely necessary!

Like this? See also Marking and Cutting Fabric.


  1. Great post Tilly. I plan to buy your blouse pattern this weekend and I can't wait to get started. Oh, by the way, I pre-shrink my interfacing (both fusible and non-fusible) by putting it in a sink of hot water and then folding it up inside a sheet until it is dry. I'm not sure if you have to - but I figure better safe than sorry.

  2. Not my favorite part of sewing I will admit, but when done well it is something that really makes a garment look professional! Thanks, Tilly!

  3. I've ironed it upside down many a time :(
    The tip about ironing it on to a slippery piece before cutting out is a goodie, I've done that and it works a treat.

  4. Using a presscloth is a really good idea, I've had interfacing stick to my iron even though I was pressing the correct side! Always always use a presscloth since...

    Also, I cover my ironing board with a piece of muslin to protect the surface from glue residue that can transfer to other fabrics. Maybe not needed if the interfacing is cut without seamallowance, but like you I tend to be lazy in that way =)

    1. Good idea - there's always a sneaky bit of glue that likes to rub off on the ironing board!

  5. Do you know what? I've been sewing clothes since I was about 12 but you've taught me quite a lot with this series! I'm completely self-taught and there weren't any sewing blogs to help me out back then, so I've kind of been making it up as I went along. There are so many little techniques and steps that I haven't been using but that will make my life a lot easier. So thank you for doing this series: I wouldn't have gone back to the basics otherwise!

  6. Wheres the best place to get woven interfacing in UK? My fabric shop only has the non-woven side which I don't like and I've never been able to track down and feel woven interfacing. I should just but some online but not sure wheres the best place...

    1. I found some in Kleins on Berwick Street in Soho, but if you're not in London Karen suggested an online place the other day on her blog.

  7. Tilly, I'm so pleased you're writing these tutorial posts, and sewing construction methods... I've sent a few people your links... but also, for a seamstress like myself (who's never been to sewing school, but makes/muddles it up/through) they're amazing too! Thank you!

  8. Loved this post, such handy little tips!

    Amanda of Prim and Propah

  9. Dear Tilly

    Am just about to apply the interfacing to various parts of the fabric, but am confused by this one: back opening facings – between the fold line and the seam allowance. Am I being a total wally? Can you help me with where this interfacing goes?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Sarah, the interfacing goes on the centre back openings of the back bodice pieces. There's a fold line indicated on the pattern piece - apply a strip of interfacing between there and 15mm in from the raw edge (or you could just apply it between the fold line and the raw edge). Hope that makes sense!

  10. Hi Tilly! I love your blog and have recommended it to so many other beginners! Quick question- when you suggest 7x 5/8 inches of interfacing do you mean 7 x five eighths? This does not seem to be enough to cover all areas mentioned in the Mathilde pattern? Thank you for your help, Nicola

  11. Hi Nicola, do you mean in the Mathilde instructions? It says:
    "Lightweight fusible interfacing
    7 x 5/8” / 15mm buttons"
    ie. the 7 x 5/8" is for the buttons. I hope that makes sense!

  12. Hi Tilly,

    I'm working on the collar for the Francoise dress. I ironed on my interfacing and made a couple marks with a sewing marker. When I wet the fabric to take the marker off, it made my interfacing wrinkle up and get bubbly! Now I'm worried that might also happen if I wash my dress at some point in the future. Is there anyway to fix this? Should I have pre-washed my interfacing?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Oh no, that sounds so frustrating! Unfortunately not all interfacings are created equally and some do have a tendency to wrinkle and bubble when washed. When this happens to something I've already made, I find that gentle steam pressing can help smooth it down a bit (but not completely). Best thing to do in future is buy the best quality woven interfacing you can find (I like Vilene) and test wash it if you're not sure. Good luck!


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