Choosing the Right Interfacing

V2984I’ve been thinking a lot about interfacing lately because I’ve been trying to figure out if I want to use what this Vogue pattern (V2984, now out of print) recommends (60″ nylon fusible knit interfacing) for this wool crepe jacket — or use something else. I’m not sure what that “something else” will be so I thought I’d take a moment and write about what I’ve learned about choosing the right interfacing.

The most important things to keep in mind is:

  • the hand of your fabric,
  • the weight of your interfacing,
  • and your pattern.

For example, if you’ve got lightweight fabric, such as cotton voile, and your pattern calls for interfacing for the collar, you don’t want to use a heavy-weight interfacing or you’ll have a really stiff and uncomfortable collar. Plus you’d change the hand of your fabric from something that’s light and flowing to something thick and stiff.

What does interfacing do? It provides additional support for your fabric; it’s most commonly used in areas that get a bit more wear and tear, such as a neck facing or a waistband.

Earlier this week I tweeted (as @csewsalot): “Do you use fusible interfacing? If so what are your faves? Any that you avoid?”

Erin Erickson (@yorkiemischief), who blogs at Dog Under My Desk, replied: “It depends on what you’re using it for. For quilting cotton in bags I use SF-101 (Pellon’s woven fusible) + sew-ins”

She followed that up with a couple more tweets: “I’m sure there are good applications for non-woven fusibles, maybe clothes, but definitely not on quilting cotton.”

and then: “This is what happens when you fuse non-wovens to quilting cotton”

(photo courtesy of Erin Erickson of Dog Under My Desk)

As you can see, selecting the right interfacing is really important. (Thanks to Erin for sending a bigger photo!)

I bought the above Vogue pattern in 2009 and I remember reading the back of the envelope and thinking — uh, what’s nylon fusible knit interfacing? I went to Britex Fabrics and looked at some but they didn’t have any that was 60″ wide. I wasn’t ready to make the jacket and hadn’t bought my fashion fabric yet so I put it away.

Not long after that, I was reading Anna Maria Horner‘s book Seams to Mewhich has many lovely projects and patterns, and she mentioned that she didn’t like interfacing. In fact, she recommended using flannel or some other fabric for some of the projects in her book. This made me rethink interfacing.

I went through a brief anti-interfacing moment. Here’s what I made during that time.

Knit top - no interfacing
The result of not using interfacing in the yoke of this knit top

I decided not to use any interfacing on this rayon knit top, which as you can see, was a mistake. Knit is very drapey and the yoke really needs additional support. I had made this top once before and used a medium-weight fusible interfacing that was too stiff so the yoke didn’t look quite right. When I made it again, I went in the opposite direction and so I got this saggy front. Though I can wear the top I need to pair it with a turtleneck, which gives it something to stick to, and I have to remember to sit up straight so it lays right. So I don’t wear it very much even though I really like the fabric.

White dress - flannel interfacing
Using flannel as interfacing on this dress

On this vintage dress pattern (a Vogue reissue of a 1953 pattern), I used white flannel as my interfacing. But I think it was a little too thick. The white cotton fabric was of a lighter weight and had a different hand than the flannel. However, I got the five yards of fashion fabric for about $10 at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland and  I was experimenting. It was sort of my muslin but I’ve worn the dress a couple times a year with a vintage black straw hat so I guess it worked out. It was a good learning experience!

Here’s the pattern:

Vogue 1953 Dress Pattern

And here’s my last example. On this vintage dress, I didn’t use any interfacing. The red cotton fabric has a crisp hand to it and it didn’t need any additional support.

Red dress - no interfacing
The bodice, front detail and reverse side (finished with seam tape)

I’ll be writing more about fusible interfacing but if you have any interfacing nightmares or successes, let me know. Or if you have any suggestions for interfacing alternatives to nylon knit fusible (organza perhaps) for wool crepe jacket, please comment below!