Interfacing – 3 types & How to choose the best for sewing

Interfacing is a special type of fabric which is used to give support and structure to the cloth it is adhered to.

Interfacing is usually used on garment sections like collars, pockets, pocket flaps, plackets, sleeveless armholes, cuffs, necklines, opening edges, lapels, buttonholes, behind buttons, embroidery, seams, hems, fasteners like zippers – anywhere where there is a need for reinforcement. Interfacing gives shape and prevents stretching of fabric out of shape. It is one of the most important aspects of perfect dressmaking

Just some good things that the interfacing does for you

  • Reinforces
  • Stabilises
  • Prevents sagging
  • Give shape
  • Neatens edges


Interfacing is usually cut the same as the pattern piece you are adhering it to. If you are using store bought pattern the pattern instructions will tell you all about what type of interfacing to use and how to use. But if you are making clothes and accessories from self drafted sewing patterns you need guidance.

tank top diy pattern

Types of Interfacing

According to the material interfacing is classified into 

  • Non woven – this is the most commonly used interfacing. this interfacing sometimes come with grain and hence need carefully placement
  • Woven interfacing – This interfacing have grain ( lengthwise vs crosswise) it shoud be cut on the same grain as the fabric to you will be attaching it to.
  • Knit interfacing – this interfacing has a slight stretch. A weft insertion interfacing is knit but has an added crosswise yarn to stabilize the stretch
  • Fabric – Some times the same fabric as the outer fabric is used to interface. You can also use fabric like muslin/ silk organza as interfaing. For suede / leather canvas can be used as interfacing

Interfacing is also classified based on the way they are applied. These are fusible and sew-in. Then there are narrow interfacing bands which are used for collars, cuffs

Fusible interfacing – This interfacing is heatbonded to the fabric by pressing with a hot iron. This interfacing has small dots of glue on one side of the fabric which is melted when heat is applied to the back and the glue bonds the interfacing to the fabric.This is the most commonly used interfacing

The fusible interfacing can be woven, nowoven or knit. A knit interfacing is mostly fusible and they have a good stretch making it suitable for a variety of purposes. They are supple as well.The nonwoven interfacing looks like paper. You should follow the grain in this type otherwise you will get wrinkles on the fabric it is attached to. The woven fusible interfacing can be applied in either direction and feel supple like fabric

Sew-in interfacing – as the name suggests this interfacing is sewn to the fabric. This is usually applied when interfacing is needed for the main outer fabric of the garment;when the garment fabric needs strength and support and you know that fusible interfacing will make the fabric look wrinkly. Instead of interfacing you can use silk organza or self fabric the same way as sew in interfacing.

This type of interfacing is preferred when making garments with very expensive and delicate fabrics like silk, wool etc. Also beaded and sequined fabric cannot be fused with interfacing so a sew-in interfacing is the only way.

Guidelines for attaching interfacing

There are some general guidelines to follow when choosing and sewing interfacing

  • Select an interfacing which is of the same weight as the fabric you are adhering it to. Interfacing should not be heavier than your fabric
  • Ensure that the interfacing is not changing the colour of the fabric. If white colour of the interfacing is showing through a dark coloured fabric use a black interfacing
  • Apply interfacing before sewing the seams
  • Interfacing is cut a tad smaller than the fabric it is going to be attached to . 1/8 inch is the standard. This is so that when you press the interfacing to the fabric the interfacing glue will not get into your pressing surface.
  • Test fusible interfacing first on a small scrap of the same fabric to know its suitability in terms of weight and the support it will give
  • When interfacing facing for garments made of very thin fabrics ( unlined) cut the outer edge of the interfacing 1/4 inch smaller than the facing cloth so that the interfacing will not be visible outside.
  • I always mark the neckline markings etc on the interfacing rather than the main fabric or facing fabric


Cutting interfacing

Fusing the full fabric to the interfacing and then cutting pattern pieces or cutting fabric pattern pieces and then interfacing -which is better? Both are viable ways but I prefer to fuse individual pieces. This way you can cut the interfacing smaller so that the glue will not mark the pressing surface. But fusing the whole fabric in one go is convenient though. It is also the best way to cut for slippery fabrics which are difficult to cut.

How to prewash the interfacing

Place interfacing ( the whole bolt that you have) in a tub of water ( cold or warm). Let it remain there for 10 minutes. Take it out and pat dry with a towel. After water is taken out with the towel hang to dry or lay flat to dry for one whole day.

How to apply a fusible interfacing

Fusible interfacing is rather applied to facings than to the fabric of the garment. Fusible interfacing will (may) cause a slightly bubbly wrinkly look to the fabric , especially after a wash ( especially if you have not prewashed the interfacing/fabric)

As said fusible interfacing is cut 1/8 inch smaller than the fabric. Keep the fabric wrong side up. Use the hot iron to heat up the fabric by moving the iron over the fabric .

Keep the glue side ( it will be shiny) of the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric.Press with a hot iron ( with heat setting suitable for the fabric or if your interfacing comes with directions do follow that) You can use steam for better adherence but see that fabric would not spot with water stains.

Using a press cloth and water spray and firm pressure can give you quick and neat results. remember to use a dry iron later and use it to finish the process. Cool the pieces before moving or they may fall apart.

How to apply a sew – in interfacing

The sew in interfacing is cut the same size as the piece to be backed ; it is either hand/machine basted or simply caught in the seams as the garment is constructed. When machine / hand basting Pin the Sew-in interfacing to the wrong side of fabric and stitch with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Trim at the corners if you feel it will lessen the bulkiness at the seams

The problem with sew in interfacing is that if you interface large areas they will hang inside without any support/ binding

Are you having problems with the interfacing

Some things to check are – Is there enough glue on the fusible side or are you using enough heat to fuse

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