Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric [Part 4: Interfacings & Interlinings]

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Welcome back to The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric.  My little road-map to fabric, mostly quilting cottons, to help jump-start your sewing journey!

[Part 4: Interfacing & Interlinings]

Interfacing and Interlinings are used in bag making as well as other crafts.  I'm going to be talking mostly about it's use in bag making, since that's what I mostly do.

Not only will Interfacing and Interlining bring your handmade bags up a notch with a professional look and finish, they also help them to last longer by reinforcing your pretty fabrics!

Fusible and Sew-In:
For the purpose of my Guide: Interfacing refers to fusible products that adhere to your fabric.  Interlining is what you sew into your bag for stability and shape without fusing to the fabric.

Sew-In Interlinings:
Light-weight Sew-in is best used for sheer or light-weight fabrics to add support without affecting the drape of the fabric (the way the fabric falls/drapes).  I like these for lining pockets and accents on my bags, when I need just a touch of extra shape.  Light-Weight sew-in is also nice on slouch-style bags, again, lending support without making the bag too stiff or boxy.

Heavy-weight: This sew-in is great for bags requiring a tailored look.  I love it paired with fusible interfacing, which I'll get to, for bags with crisp details, like the SoChick Savannah Tote.
SoChick! Savannah Tote
Canvas: Canvas is great for not only bringing shape to a bag but really upping it's durability factor.  Not to mention, natural canvas is usually very reasonably priced and at 60 in wide, it's an economical choice for making all kinds of totes.  I use it in the SoChick Market Tote for shape but mostly reinforcement/durability.
Canvas interlining adds durability to the SoChick Market Tote
**All of these Sew-in Interlinings would be sewn into your bag between the exterior and ling fabrics.

Fusible Interfacing:  This is a product that is fused, using the heat of an iron, to the Wrong Side of your fabric.  Different Fusible Interfacings can be used to acheive different effects, from light reinforcement to being able to shape your fabric for tailored-look bags and even fabric bins!

[Woven vs. Non Woven]

Woven Interfacing is exactly what it's name implies; it is essentially woven fabric that has lengthwise/crosswise grain and stretch with a layer of adhesive on the back that, when heated with your iron, will fuse it to your fabric of choice.

My pick for Woven Interfacing is Pellon SF 101.  This particular product is a little more expensive, but it gives great feel to quilting fabrics and I love the professional looking finish!

Here is an example of adding woven interfacing to a piece of Kona Quilting Cotton:
I chose to have the light in the back to show how interfacing helps add some weight to your fabric.

Notice how the woven interfacing (back) supports the fabric but still allows for movement? The piece of fabric in the front has no interfacing and is a little floppy.

Non-Woven Interfacing does not have lengthwise/crosswise grain, it is made like a web with little to no movement.  It comes in different weights much like the sew-in interlinings.


Pellon 906F - you may choose to use this for smaller accessories and bags, for adding a little extra support to your fabric.  I personally feel like this would be the non-woven counterpart to the SF101 I mentioned above.  *remember, though, that non-woven will not move with your fabric the way woven interfacing will, so if you are making slouchy-styled bags, I'd stay away from non-woven.


Pellon Fusible Peltex -This is a ultra firm fusible interfacing that provides serious stability to your projects.  It can be shaped and pressed and will continue to hold its shape... A popular project using Peltex would be Amy Butler's Weekender Bag.  I will also use it for the base of some bags which need additional support.  Also, it's great for crafting fabric baskets and bins!

Fusible Fleece:
 Fleece is a great way to cushion your bags, provide a bit more body and it helps to make them look professional, too.  You can use fleece as a sew-in, but fusible fleece makes life a little bit easier by also helping to reinforce your fabric... kind of like a 2-in-1 step. (Again, I prefer Pellon Brand)  I used it in this pleated tote:

** It is important to know that when using firm Interfacings and Interlingings, you are more than likely making a bag/item that is not going to be machine washable.  Machine washing can break down the product's ability to keep it's shape; I would take that into consideration when offering care advice... I usually recommend ScotchGuard brand fabric protector, using it according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

All of the photos I've shown in this post are examples of bags using different types of interlings and interfacings.  Here is a photo of my very first handbag, I didn't use anything other than a piece of Warm and Natural for the quilting... notice that my poor bag never kept shape and even after pressing, is still pretty slouchy! (Not to mention the handles are super thin)... lessons learned. *wink*

I encourage you to try Interfacing for your projects, you will be amazed by the results... be sure to follow manufacturers instructions for best results. 

Looking for other parts to the guide? Check them out here:
[Part 1: Fabric Grain], [Part 2: Prep & Cutting], [Part 3: Pre-cuts]

XxOo~ Melissa


  1. This post is my favorite so far because this is the realm I know I need to get into, but haven't yet. Normally I'm not scared to dive in and try stuff, but for some reason, all the different types of interfacing make my head spin & I just run away. I'll still have to try things out to see what works best but this guide will help quite a bit.

    One thing I've struggled with - I came up with a great pattern for a phone cozy, but have been using cotton on the outside & regular fleece, the type I use for my cup cozies, on the inside. I like the cushion and the soft-to-the-touch-ness that the fleece provides for the inside of the phone cozy . . . but it's really hard to sew through, at least with my super basic machine.

    I've been wondering if I need to trade out my regular needle for something more hardcore that will just bust through the double-layers of cotton & fleece. I'm wondering now if instead of using fleece, if I should use interfacing to create the shape & thickness, and just use cotton on the inside. The cotton wouldn't give me that fuzzy soft feel (to the touch) but I think I would be able to make the cozy much more tailored & nice-looking.

  2. I should note that my phone cozy pattern calls for the cotton/fleece to double up so it's that layer of cotton-fleece-fleece-cotton that is so hard to sew through (in a nice straight line with no needle/thread issues), not just cotton-fleece. I sew through cotton-fleece all the time with no issue.

    1. SO glad you are finding this helpful, Ashley! I vote for keeping the fleece in the phone cozy for padding, but trimming down the interlining of fleece to reduce bulk in your seams, so when you top stitch you don't have as much bulk to go through. ;-)


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