Interfacing is an extra, in-between layer applied to a fashion fabric in order to keep it in shape and provide support. It adds body as well as stability and controls stretch. You will find interfacings in collars, button and buttonhole bands, cuffs, jacket lapels and so on. Interfacing should be of the same kind/structure as the fashion fabric, have the same weight and should not be visible from the right side of a garment.
Interfacing is a true “inside story” of a successfully sewn garment, it is hidden inside but essential for a good construction. Believe it or not, but the way a garment looks outside is strongly impacted by the interfacing applied. For quite some time distribution of professional interfacings was restricted to professional sewers and therefore most of us was only/mainly familiar with a vliseine/vilene. Luckily the market for over-the-counter interfacings AVAILABLE for home sewers has grown recently and our projects can also benefit from the qualities of professional interfacings.
Before we present some interfacings that we use on a daily basis, let us make some general remarks. The interfacings fall into two categories from the construction point of view: they are woven or knitted. They are also categorized by how they are applied: sewn-in and fusible.
The sewn-in interfacings (usually to be found in good quality jackets) are very often multi-layers, hand-based to the fashion fabric and later on caught into the seams.
The fusible interfacings are fibers with a layer of glue on one side that bonds the interfacing to the fashion fabric (under a combination of heat and pressure).
We focus in this article on fusible facings, which are quick and easy to apply and therefore the usual choice of modern sewers.
The most popular and the cheapest version of a fusible interfacing is a vliseine/vilene. It is usually a rather thin and sheer, synthetic and paper-like tissue, however quite stiff at the same time. It is structurally weak and breaks easily if any tension applied and therefore it is good only for interfacing small elements. It is really not appropriate for larger elements such as fronts, jacket lapels. Some vliseine/vilene tissues are strengthened by parallel stitching lines, which enforces it – that is true – but it is still not suitable for jackets. This kind of interfacing adds a lot of stiffness to a fabric and may spoil the end result of your project.
For interfacing jackets we can blindly recommend knitted interfacings characterized with flexibility and adding extra body to the fabric. They support the fabric, but do not distort the natural flow of the fabric and let it fold and roll as it is intended to. Have a closer look to see the structure of such an interfacing.
While sewing from knits, the flexibility of interfacing is really the key issue. For such garments use knitted interfacings, but not thicker than your knit. They will not restrain the stretchability of garments made from knits and will not tear apart inside a knit garment when stretched.
There are also stretchy woven interfacings made especially for stretchy woven fabrics (logic isn’t it?). Their features are similar to knitted interfacings, but the structure of the interfacing is woven.
And last, but definitely not least, the special interfacing for shirt collars and button bands. Try them once and you will never, ever use any other interfacing for a collar again. Guaranteed. They are made from a woven cotton and come at different thickness and crisp levels, but are in general pretty stiff and flat. You can combine very crisp/stiff interfacing for a collar with a medium crisp/stiff interfacing for collar stand and button bands.