Monday, February 13, 2012

Inner Workings: Interfacing

noun \-ˌfā-siŋ\
fabric sewn between the facing and the outside of a garment (as in a collar or cuff) for stiffening and shape retention

You've probably noticed that I've been giving a lot of thought to the underpinnings of my sewing lately - the hardware and unseen inner workings of things.

Back in August when I was struggling to insert the zipper in my jumpsuit, someone suggested that I interface the zipper area. I did, and the zipper went in like a dream. This is now my standard operating procedure. Around that same point in time, I came across this post at Fashion Incubator. The gist is that home sewists don't utilize interfacing in their garments nearly enough. It changed my thinking on interfacing entirely.

Upper back piece of my color block dress, interfaced at the shoulders and sleeve seam.

Earlier in my sewing life, I interfaced only when and where a pattern called for it. And my earlier experiences were not very positive. I didn't know the benefits of interfacing or what good interfacing was. Needless to say  I had trouble fusing and working with the cheap stuff that was sold to me at the local craft store, and the results were not good.

But, the first time I used really nice quality interfacing, the difference was marked and I was sold. Good quality interfacing fuses smoothly and quickly (none of this holding the iron on it for 10-20 seconds nonsense that can leave you with scorched fabric), doesn't distort the fabric or drape, and adds strength and stability to the garment. For me, good interfacing is worth the extra money. I've also come to appreciate how much interfacing makes things like zipper insertion easier, how it extends the life of a garment at the areas that tend to wear, like hems, buttonholes, zippers, hooks-and-eyes, etc. I also like how it can keep a knit garment from stretching and distorting over time, particularly at the neckline.

So, I finished sewing up my second version of the Burda Cover Dress last night (reveal of this color-blocked dress on Thurday). I used two different interfacings - weft strips for the shoulders and where the sleeves would attached (ie: where the garment should not stretch) and tricot for the facings, for the sleeve bands and at the hem.

Re-doing the hem of version 1

I was so pleased with how the hem came out - how stable and basically invisible it was that I ripped out the hem of my first version of the dress, which I had been unhappy with. I interfaced it and re-sewed it by hand last night. It's so much better now!  Much less visible.

Anyway, are you a fan of interfacing or do you use it only as a pattern calls for it? Do you have a preferred brand or supplier?  What are your thoughts?

Update: After puu's comment - feel free to weigh in on sew-in interfacing and organza used as underlining or interfacing. I used organza as a sew-in underling for the fabulous red dress I finished in September. And for a fancy dress I think it is the way to go. I loved it.  And I've also used sew-in interfacing. Sew in hair canvas was fantastic for interfacing my Lady Grey coat, but I tend to have a rough time with the sew-in stuff in general because it tends to shift while you machine baste it in and I don't always have time for hand basting.


puu said...

i don't like fusible, so lately i've been alternating between sew-in interfacing and silk organza...but for a fusible, i LOVE fashion sewing supply (pam at off the cuff's shop)...

Clio said...

Organza is VERY nice for an underlining! I've used that too. I've also used sew-in interfacings, most recently on the diaper bag I just finished since fusing was not an option.

T. Sedai said...

When I first started sewing I thought, "Interfacing, who needs that?" but now I am a total convert. Usually I interface where a pattern tells me to (Burda is actually pretty good about telling you what to interface I think), though sometimes on coats I add more than the instructions say, or sometimes less. Depends on the fabric and how tailored or relaxed I want it to look. There are definitely some Big4 patterns where I want to make them again and add interfacing because they are just too floppy without it.

I have been using the Palmer/Pletsch interfacing products because when I first went to order "good" interfacing from online, Fashion Sewing Supply was down and I wasn't willing to wait. I have been pleased with the results of this interfacing, but I do want to try other brands/styles. In the future (soon-ish actually, running low on interfacing!) I want to order from Fashion Sewing Supply - I have heard good things, and I really want to try their fusible hair cloth (anyone tried it? any good?) because I have a few thin wools that I don't think will look so great if I pad-stitch canvas in. I have also bought silk organza and sew-in hair canvas interfacing from "The Sewing Place." I really liked the quality of the products, and I would probably order from them again, as their prices are very reasonable for these products.

Clio said...

lol - I am partial to the "good" stuff, which I think is on sale right now (sales are infrequent so you may want to order now). But I've heard that Palmer Pletsch also has some good products.

Yeah, I find big 4 patterns lacking in their interfacing instructions, too.

SEWN said...

I agree, interfacing really makes a difference. I love everything you have been putting out lately. Very well made indeed!

Catherine Daze said...

I'm yet to be converted to interfacing. I use it where I have to but never had a dramatic improvement from adding it in other places. Also I detest ironing it on! Sounds like I should try some different brands though, maybe thst's where I'm going wrong.

Clio said...

Thanks, SEWN! (aw, shucks)

@CyberDaze - YES! Try different interfacings. They shouldn't be a pain to fuse. If you read the comments of the article I linked to, there is discussion about fusing and why the instructions are generally nonesense.

Mikhaela said...

Amen, amen, etc... I'm totally with you on this! It makes a huge difference.