5 February 2013

Interfacing Fabric

Interfacing fabric - Tilly and the Buttons

Interfacing is used in sewing to add extra structure or firmness to certain areas of a garment – 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; light-weight to heavy-weight; in packs or by the metre or yard.

Interfacing fabric - Tilly and the Buttons

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 adds firmness but doesn't make it too firm. I generally keep a stash of light-weight, medium-weight and heavy-weight 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.)

Interfacing fabric - Tilly and the Buttons

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

Here’s how to apply iron-on interfacing:

Interfacing fabric - Tilly and the Buttons

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, it can be easier and more accurate to measure the shape on the pattern and draw it straight onto the interfacing.

Place your fabric piece on an ironing board, wrong side facing up. Position the interfacing on top of it, glue 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!

If you're making 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.

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.