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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Woven vs.Nonwoven Interfacings

There are many interfacings to choose from. I'd like to recommend my favorite type when it comes to choosing which interfacings to use for your garment sewing:
Woven fusible interfacings.
It's a light cotton that's backed with glue and is available in both black & white. It also comes in different weights, just like the non woven fusibles.
If you don't live near a serious fabric store catering to clothing construction, you may have to buy it online.

Woven interfacing available online from B. Black & Sons . B. Black & Sons is an awesome shop in downtown LA for tailoring enthusiasts, family owned and operating since 1922.

Fusible woven  is so much nicer to work with than icky non woven fusible interfacings. Plus, it's so much easier to use than the couture method of sew in only interfacings.
Did you know couture sewing forbids the use of any fusible interfacings? In some exclusive sewing circles, the nonwoven fusibles that they sell in most chain fabric stores are considered cheap and tacky. Like drinking Two Buck Chuck with Russian caviar instead of Dom.

But who has hours upon hours to hand sew silk organza or hair canvas onto the back of each pattern piece? A painful and tedious process....I've done it and it's exhausting.

Woven fusible interfacing is a nice compromise. It doesn't give you that weird papery crunchy effect that some non woven interfacings give your clothing, but you can still save time by ironing it on your fabric instead of hand sewing each piece.
Not that non woven interfacings don't have their merits. But I would save them for making bags, crafts and things that don't need to be washed.

Now here is the most important thing to remember to do when working with ANY fusible interfacing , woven or not. I can't stress it enough because it's the reason for lots of my failed projects:

You have to preshrink it.
Soak the interfacing, woven or not in very hot water, then let it air dry....

If you don't, the interfacing will shrink when you iron it on, and slightly over time, resulting in little ripples and twists in the garment. Not pretty. It's happened to lots of my garments in the past and I had no idea why.

This is a blouse I just made and I forgot to preshrink my interfacing. See the little ripples? That's because my iron shrunk the interfacing while I was pressing it.
It's not horrible but it will get worse if I throw it in the dryer.

 How about you? Do you have any tips for working with interfacings?

Is there a method or type you prefer?

If you'd like to read more about the wonderful and exciting ( ahem) world of interfacings here is a handy chart from Threads magazine you can print out

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  1. Thanks Justine. I am getting back into garment sewing after a hiatus. I used an inexpensive fusible interfacing for a collar...and yup, I've got some unattractive puckering going on the top. It's not huge, but enough that I notice it. I will definitely look for the woven fusible and I will pre-shrink it.

    Sue xo

  2. I never knew there was woven fusible interfacing! I will definitely need to try it out. Thanks for all the tips on making our sewing better. ~Major Moma

  3. Thank you for sharing ..I never thought about prewashing the interfacing.. and have definitely noticed the puckering..[not pretty]..

  4. you always teach me something great. i am horrible with picking out the right type of fabrics. see you soon! i cannot wait to meet you!

  5. I tend to gravitate towards sew in interfacing, mainly because that's all there was when I learnt to sew. And I do prefer the woven. I'm seeing lots of benefits to the fusible wovens and am using them more.

  6. Aha! Pre-shrink! Thanks you for the tip. :)

  7. Well reading the comments I'm glad I wasn't the only one not preshrinking! I always find interfacing posts interesting- it just seems like one of those topics there is actually a TON to know about, but I tend not to do the research on when sewing a garment.

  8. When I am sewing in cotton or similar weight fabric, I often use muslin (or a white cotton sheet) as sew in interfacing. It works great. I also use self fabric sometimes. When sewing with lighter fabrics, I really like a tricot interfacing, as it keeps the drape but controls the distortion. I almost always use sew in, because I have had such terrible luck with fusing. I always seem to get bubbles later, even if I shrink it first. More recently I've used fusible a couple times with success, and that involved using a wet press cloth and pressing over the fusible until it was dry, repeating for the entire piece. To me, that's a lot more work than just basting it in place!

  9. This all makes so much sense! No wonder I hated using interfacings. I was using the wrong kind and using it wrong. Can I just move in with you, and you can teach me all you know?

  10. When I took my education I think the number one mystery was interlining. We were SO used to straight answers to our questions and when we asked about interlining we always got answers like: "oh well it depends...." "or it is more like a feeling..." and so on. It took me many years to realize what they in you kind of have to make your own experiences and find out what you like. I love you wrote this post because the subject is enormous.


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