All About Interfacing
Interfacing is material added to fabric in order to provide structure and body to your projects. It can help prevent fabric from stretching or tearing along seams.
Let’s take a closer look at a few commonly available types of interfacing. Interfacing tends to be available in both fusible and sew-in forms. Fusible means there is a heat-activated adhesive on the material so that you can fuse it to your fabric using an iron or heat press. I pulled 4 of the most common types off the shelf at one of my local JoAnn stores. There are over 30 different types carried by Pellon (complete catalog here), and that's only one brand!
Here’s one of the lighter interfacing options, Pellon P44F. It is a basic fusible interfacing that is described by Pellon as “an ultra lightweight interfacing for light to medium-weight fabrics. It is great for wovens, knits, blouses, and sheer garments. It is excellent for use with crepe de chine, voile, and handkerchief linen fabrics.” At JoAnn, where I went shopping for this post, it was priced at $0.99/yard for 20" wide interfacing before coupons and sales, so it is very affordable. This is the fabulous Angela's (of Panda Kisses on YouTube) favorite interfacing.
Next I pulled Pellon 911FF Fusible Featherweight. Pellon describes this as a "fusible, nonwoven interfacing for light to midweight fabrics. It is best for use with wovens and knits such as challis, chambray, jersey, broadcloth, and linen." JoAnn's regular price on this is $3.99/yard before coupons and discounts on a 20" wide product.
Here's my personal favorite, Pellon SF101. The main difference between SF101 and the above interfacings is that SF101 is woven. You can see the weave in the photo. It's great for stabilizing knits before using them in ITH projects, but I use it on just about every fabric! Pellon describes SF101 as an "all purpose, woven, fusible interfacing. It provides crisp support for collars, cuffs, yokes, pockets, facings, and other detail areas of a garment. It can also add body and permanent stability when used as a backing for needlework and punch embroidery. Shape-Flex® is intended for light to medium woven and knit fabrics, including oxford cloth, chambray, gingham, madras, tattersall, pincord, flannel, and polyester/cotton blends." JoAnn's regular price is $6.99/yard for 20" wide interfacing.
Another fan favorite is Pellon 987F, which is described by Pellon as a "one-sided fusible fleece that adds a layer of softness, body, and stability to home decorating, craft and apparel sewing." JoAnn's regular price on this is $10.99/yard (but it is 45" wide instead of 20"). This also comes in a non-fusible option, Pellon 988 Sew-in Fleece, and a "sandwich fusible fleece," Pellon 985F, that has adhesive on both sides of the fleecy interfacing. Fusible fleece is wonderful when you want your projects to have a quilted look.
We occasionally get asked whether foam is an option for ITH projects. It is much thicker than fleece, and once you start building up layers and layers of it in your hoop, it is likely to cause struggles in your stitchout.
Thermoweb is Jen's preferred brand, but they aren't sold on the bolt at stores around me. JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby used to carry a variety of pre-cuts on the notions aisle, though I have not seen those lately where I shop. You can find a chart to figure out which of their interfacings is right for your project here on their website. And of course Jen's favorites are linked on supply posts and down below.
What types of interfacing do you think Jen used in creating the 3 bags below? They were all constructed using quilt-weight woven cotton, but she used different weights of interfacing, producing very different results!
Well, the fronts are all stippled using one of the POP stipple designs on cut away stabilizer, and she then used cut away for constructing the bags.
- No interfacing at all
- Thermoweb Lightweight Fusible Interfacing on the outer fabrics (This interfacing weight is in between the Pellon P44F and 911F in my opinion.)
- Thermoweb Fusible Fleece Interfacing on the outer fabrics (comparable to Pellon 987F)
Frequently asked interfacing questions:
What's the difference between interfacing and stabilizer?
Interfacing is applied to your fabric to provide body to your fabric. Stabilizer goes in the hoop to stabilize the stitching of your project.
What kind of interfacing should I use?
It really depends on the look you prefer! If you want a more modern, sleek look, stick to one of the lightweight interfacings. If you want a quilted, puffier look, try fusible fleece!
Which pieces should be interfaced?
POP recommends interfacing the outer pieces of fabric. Some people like adding interfacing to the liners too, but you need to know if your machine can handle the bulk. Interfacing on the outer pieces and the liners adds 4 layers of material to what is being sewn.
I bought this Thermoweb product. Is it the right thing?
No, that's Heat N Bond Lite. This is a fusible glue product. It is often used in embroidery to prepare the back of fabrics for applique to prevent them from raveling. It's good to have on hand, but it is not a replacement for interfacing!
What interfacing should I use with knit (cotton lycra, cotton spandex, etc.) fabric?
You should choose a woven interfacing such as Pellon SF101 to take the stretch out of your knit fabric.
Do I need to prewash my interfacing?
Read the manufacturer's directions and use your best judgment! If you will be washing your bag, you probably should take the extra steps to pre-wash and pre-shrink your interfacing IF it is a type of interfacing that shrinks.
What is the best way to buy interfacing?
JoAnn's periodically runs 70% off interfacing sales, and there's always a 50% off coupon on their app or emails. Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon on their website, and their interfacings are often 30% off. Walmart (if yours has a fabric section) generally has the lower pricing than the straight bolt prices because they don't do fabric coupons. Local fabric and quilt shops will also carry their favorite options. If you're new to interfacing, I recommend going to a store and feeling all of the options for yourself. Grab an assortment of cuts to try and see how they work in your sewing.
I buy my fave Pellon SF101 by the bolt, and I use google to find the best price. Sometimes it is JoAnn, sometimes overstock.com, sometimes Walmart. Make sure you check the bolt size too. Last time I purchased, I found a 20 yard bolt on Walmart.com that was cheaper than JoAnn for a 10 yard bolt even with their crazy coupon deals. And of course, there's always Amazon if you prefer shopping from the comfort of your couch.
Have more questions, want to show off projects or chat with fellow embroidery fans? Come join us in the Parker on the Porch Facebook Group!
Can’t buy Pellon911ff interfacing for tshirt quilts. What else would you recommend?
I’ve used SF101 to interface knits and wovens. I just learned about P44F. I know this wouldn’t work to take the stretch out of the knit. I’m wondering the advantage of SF101 for wovens vs P44f on wovens. P44F so much cheaper! ty
Anna, would the two-sided Fusable Pellon 985F be suitable for use with “Symphony Broadcloth” (poly/cotton)?. I am making a banner that is 8 inches wide and six feet long. Thanks! Anne White
Thank you for a great explanation! I’m new to the embroidery world and this is just what I needed!