We’ve made upgrades to our Navigation. We hope you like them. If you find any issues please Click Here to report them.


  • All About Interfacing

    9.7.16_email_v1 In a word, interfacing is used for stabilizing. It's an important part of many sewing projects, especially in garments. As the name interfacing (or interlining, as it's sometimes called) implies, it usually goes between layers of fashion fabric, where it provides invisible support. You'll most often use it for one of three purposes:
    • Adding body (such as in a collar or waistband)
    • Adding reinforcement (such in areas of beading or embroidery)
    • Stabilizing a stretch fabric (reducing or completely eliminating stretch)


    Let's go through the list above.

    1. Body

    Think of the cuffs of a button down shirt. They have some stiffness, right? That's courtesy of interfacing. Most of the time you use interfacing it's going to be for collars, cuffs, and waistbands. Even if using a naturally crisp or heavy material, you will need interfacing in structural areas so that they are less limp than the rest of your garment. It's all about relative body.

    Similarly, interfacing can add structure to bags, costumes, or any other architectural detail. Say you want a silk evening clutch. Made out of only cloth, it would be like a pocket. It would sag and distort when you put things in it. Interfacing is what gives a purse the ability to hold a shape.

    2. Reinforcement

    Interfacing is used to reinforce areas of fabric that are cut/punctured in some way, or that have weight pulling on it—any area in which fabric might be stressed. The interfacing will reinforce the fabric so that it won't tear. You'll sometimes find it in button plackets on shirts, and you will always find it behind embroidery or beading.

    3. Stabilizing stretch 

    Even stretch garments have structure, and knit interfacing (which is mildly stretchy) will reinforce areas that fabric might need help holding a shape (such as around a neckline). You can also use woven interfacing to completely eliminate stretch, when necessary. (For example, if putting a zipper in a knit fabric, you must reinforce the seam with interfacing. Or if making a bag, which must be rigid, you can interface stretch fabric to make it suitable.)


    There are several levels to navigate in selecting the proper interfacing. There are a lot of options but don't worry, choosing the right interfacing pretty common sense. The basic rule of thumb is, match your fabric.


    In a nutshell, first you decide whether you want fusible or sew-in. The difference is just what it sounds like. One irons onto your fabric, the other doesn't. In most cases, which one you choose is just a matter of personal preference. Next, do you want woven, non-woven, or knit? A 4-way knit fabric requires a 4-way knit fusible, if you want to maintain stretch. Otherwise, again, which you choose is basically a matter of preference. (Non-woven is ideal for things like appliqués, because you don't need to mind a grain line. This allows you to turn a shape any direction on the fusible fabric in order to get the best fit, when cutting.) Warp-insert and weft-insert fusibles are somewhere in between woven and knit. They are knit fabrics that have had stabilizing fibers added in one direction, making them 2-way stretch. Warp-insert interfacing has crosswise stretch; weft-insert has lengthwise stretch. You can use these interfacings on non-stretch woven fabrics; they are a common, versatile choice. Lastly, choose the appropriate weight. Most types of interfacing come in multiple weights. Choose according to the weight of the fabric you're using and whether you need a soft drape or a stiff drape. (Wovens tend to be stiffer; knit-based interfacings tend to be softer.) In craft or home decor purposes, choose according to your desired finished product. (For example, if making a belt, you'll want a heavy weight. If ironing an appliqué onto a cotton voile shirt, you'll want lightweight, so that it drapes with the cloth and doesn't create a hard patch.) There are a few specialty materials, such as buckram and tear-away stabilizer. Buckram is essentially an open weave canvas that has been treated with stiffener. This allows it to have a rigid body without being thick or heavy. Buckram is used in millinery but is also suitable for bags, etc. Tear-away interfacing is essentially a paper that is used to stabilize embroidery; you just tear away the excess when finished, saving you from a lot of fussy trimming.


    This post covers common types of materials produced for interfacing, but in sewing, the task of interfacing can be accomplished with many materials. There are goat/horsehair canvases (commonly used in tailoring), you can use regular old muslin, and sometimes even using an extra layer of your self fabric is fine. If sewing something sheer, you'll probably use organza or organdy.

    ◊ ◊ ◊

    Here are some kinds of interfacing in action, so that you can see the effect they have on fabric.
    The interfacings I used. The interfacings I used.
    I've used the same lightweight cotton for each demo. On the left is un-interfaced fabric. On the right is the swatch with interfacing.
    Weft Weft (med. weight)
    Warp (med. weight) Warp (med. weight)
    water jet loom (lightweight) water jet loom (lightweight)
    non-woven fusible (lightweight) non-woven fusible (lightweight)
    IMG_0300 Cotton woven (med-heavy, stiff hand)
    Cotton woven Cotton woven (same as above)
    Buckram Buckram (medium weight)
    You can see how the drape of the cotton is unchanged with the lightest interfacings, has just slightly more body with the medium, and ranges from stiff to outright creaseable with the heavyweights. Below is an example (on a swatch of twill) of how tearaway works:
    Tear-away stabilizer Tear-away stabilizer
    IMG_0292     That's it! Go forth and interface! As a bonus, my photography partner today:
    I call this one, "Foregone Nostalgia." I call this one, "Foregone Nostalgia."
  • Finished: Italian Brocade Sheath Dress

    I'm calling this my Anna Wintour dress, because it reminds me of the brightly patterned sheath dresses the Vogue editor favors. I like the classic and timeless appeal of this particular design. It looks like it might stay in style for a few years, right? I figure this dress will be my number one pick to wear to weddings, graduations and other spring/summer events.

    Ok, so here are the construction details, to recap:
    • Used McCalls 6460, and I highly recommend this basic pattern with different cup sizes. I made a muslin and worked it enough so the finished dress fit me like a glove. The only variance I made was to omit the bias binding around the neck (more just a lack of time factor than anything else).
    • Fabric is a poly-blend brocade from Mood, available in the NYC store and LA stores, and here at Moodfabrics.com. Take a look at this photo below and you can see how vivid the colors are and how interesting the texture is.

    • Interlined the entire dress with silk organza. This did two things: Gave the fashion fabric a little more body, so it does not wrinkle at all, and allowed me to hide catch-stitching in the organza rather than in the brocade.
    • Lining is fuchsia silk charmeuse, which I attached to the dress by fell-stitching at the neck, sleeves and back zipper seam.
    • Back zipper is pick-stitched. Originally I had inserted an invisible zipper, but I did not like the way it pulled and showed the teeth (told you this dress was close-fitting), so I opted for a pick-stitched zipper. (Do not be afraid of pick-stitched zippers: They are fast and easy to insert.)
    • If you want to make a dress quickly, go with a raglan sleeve pattern. You can save a lot of time if you don't have to obsess over a perfect sleeve head. (I'm a sleeve-head obsesser.)
    • I had the fabric-covered belt done by a woman in California who makes covered belts and buckles. She works quickly and her rates are reasonable (unfortunately she does not have an online site.) Details: Pat's Custom Buttons and Belts. Call her at 1-209-369-5410 to receive a catalog, or write to her at Pat Mahoney, PO Box 335, Lodi, CA 95241.
    Bottom line: This dress is a keeper! The fabric is a little pricier than what I usually spend on fabric, but it is the star of the dress and looks rich and expensive. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and family members were very complimentary when I wore it to a Father's Day dinner last Sunday. (Usually I have to fish for compliments from my husband and kids, as in "Ahem, would you please look up from the TV and tell me how wonderful I look in this [insert article of clothing here] I made?" I'm needy when it comes to compliments about the things I've sewn.)

    • • • • • •

    Speaking of Italian brocades, we just got in a huge shipment of beautiful and unique brocades from Italy. Some really stunning fabrics in this collection, and now they're also available at MoodFabrics.com.

    • • • • • •

    Birthday boy Swatch with his fans in the NYC store today.
    Happy 5th birthday to our beloved mascot Swatch! He's been coming to the store with owner Eric Sauma since he was a wee pup, and he is definitely our most popular salesperson. The Mood staff loves Swatch too, and we miss him when he takes a day off due to rain or snow (he does not like either). XOXO to you, Swatchie!  
  • My Dress-in-Progress Report

    I'm making McCall's 6460, a simple sheath dress with raglan short sleeves, out of the silk-blend matelassé I blogged about May 22. Here's a quick recap of my sewing process so far:
    1. Since this pattern was new to me, I made a muslin
    2. Made minor adjustments to the muslin to accommodate my shape (rectangle)
    3. Cut out pattern pieces in silk organza (I'm using silk organza for interlining) and transferred all markings (darts and seams) to it
    4. Pinned organza pieces to the matelassé and cut, using organza pieces as guides
    5. Hand-basted organza to matelassé at seams and thread-traced all darts (two layers of fabric now neatly held together as one)
    6. Hand-basted dress's darts and seams and tried dress on for fit (just because your muslin fits doesn't mean your fashion fabric will behave the same way)
    7. Hooray! I got lucky and the fit is spot on
    8. Machine-stitched everything, which went super-fast because so many seams and darts were already held together by basting (skipped pinning)
    You probably read steps 1 through 6 and thought aaugh! that's a lot of work to do before even sitting down to a sewing machine. Truth be told, the prep work goes quickly, and you avoid ripping out stitches in your fashion fabric (and potentially damaging it). Work out your fit issues before you machine stitch and you'll always save loads of time in the long run. Now I just need to construct my dress's lining, attach it and that's it. How do you feel about hand-basting? Hate it with a passion, or think of it as peaceful communing with your fabric? Let me know!