Interfacing Guide from Amy Butler

on July 25 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 28 Comments

We are so pleased to bring you this post! When we started planning bag month, we knew we had to talk about interfacing, but to be honest, we’re a little in the dark ourselves. It never hurts to ask, so we went to Amy Butler for some help. After all, each and every Amy Butler bag pattern requires at least one type of interfacing, if not more. Thankfully, Amy is as nice as she is brilliant, and with the help of her colleagues Kim and Dianne, she put together this Interfacing Guide for you. In addition, Amy says, “we are also available to help you and your sew along group with any questions you might have. Please invite your readers to email us at [email protected].” Aren’t you glad you stopped by today?

Your Guide to Interfacing

by Amy Butler

Cotton Canvas

  • Description: Pant weight twill 10 oz. 100% cotton. This is a less expensive fabric than Duck Cloth.
  • When to use it: We use it to add thickness, durability and structure to the project. Be careful not to get too many layers because it gets thick in the seam allowances and difficult to stitch through.
  • Can you wash it? Yes, It’s important to wash it if your project will be washed after being constructed. The canvas shrinks quite a bit.
  • Substitutions: Duck cloth, a denim if using a darker fabric. Be careful to match the colored fabric with the fabric color you are using.
  • Tips for use: It is important to preshrink, but if you are not washing your project then do not wash the canvas. Once you wash it, it wrinkles a lot and can be difficult to press flat.

Duck Cloth

  • Description: Pant weight twill 10 oz. 100% cotton.
  • When to use it: Same as cotton canvas.
  • Can you wash it? Yes, it will shrink.
  • Substitutions: Canvas or denim (if using a dark fabric.)
  • Tips for use: Preshrink

Fusible Interfacing

  • Description: There are different weights of fusible interfacing. A lot of fusible interfacings are non-woven.
  • When to use it: When you are looking for a crisp look or to change the drape of the fabric.
  • Can you wash it? Usually. Always check the label on the bolt to be certain.
  • Tips for use: Fusible inter-facings will usually create a crisper look once applied. Always test on a scrap of the fabric you are using first.

Sew-In Interfacing

  • Description: This is a non-woven interfacing. It is thinner material and crisper but will usually create a softer feel than fusible once applied.
  • When to use it: For stability, especially in areas of buttonholes, cuffs, necklines, facings and to prevent sagging or stretching of the fashion fabric.
  • Can you wash it? Yes, it is washable. It will shrink. Sometimes ironing will pucker it…use caution (test first).
  • Substitutions: “Self-fabric” interfacings could work as long as no bulk is created in the seam. Think muslin.
  • Tips for use: Should pre-shrink before using, by hand washing or steaming w/iron.

Timtex

  • Description: This is a thick, stiff stabilizer
  • When to use it: When you want to hold the shape of your project.
  • Can you wash it? Yes. It does not have to be pre-washed, but it helps to reshape your project.
  • Substitutions: Yes, you could use Peltex. It is not quite as thick as the Timtex but it should work just as well. Peltex is available with fusible on one or both sides.
  • Tips for use: Cut off the seam allowances before stitching it onto your project. You can stitch right on the edge of the Timtex which helps to cut down bulk in the seams. Steam the finished project and mold the Timtex to shape.
  • Tip to apply the Timtex: To help keep the bulk from the Timtex out of the seams, we cut a little more than the seam allowance off completely around the Timtex Panel, then center it on the panel. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing the same size as the panel. We use Stacy’s stabilizer, it’s perfect for this! Place the fusible side toward the WRONG side of the panel on top of the Timtex. This will secure the Timtex on the panel with no need to stitch it in your seams. It’s makes using Timtex more ” friendly”.

Other Tips

  • Always choose light color interfacing for light color fabrics and dark for dark. It is best to use an interfacing slightly lighter in weight than the fashion fabric. Interfacings can be “doubled up” if extra thickness is needed. Trim in the seam allowance to take out some of the bulk. It’s okay to use different kinds/weights of interfacings in different areas of your project and even combine them . When in doubt, test, test, test.
  • It’s also OK to layer your interfacings. If using the same weight interfacing as your fabric is not enough, or does not give you the look you want, double it, or add a layer of another type of interfacing.
  • Please note that sometimes there isn’t enough fusing material on your interfacing, or maybe it puckers as you stitch it in place. Fusible interfacing is easiest to remove while it is still hot. Be careful not to burn yourself, but pull it off once you see it is puckering. It rarely presses out. It is important to test on a scrap piece of fabric.

Products

We are always on the look out for better / easier ways to interface to give our projects the best effect. We receive most of our ” hot tips ” from our retailers and sewing friends, and we learn a lot through experimentation. We’ve tried several brands of interfacings and here are some of the products we like to use:

  • Pellon Fusible Stacy’s stabilizer OR SF-101: This is a fusible woven mid-weight interfacing. This one is nice because we were able to layer it with a fusible fleece (Fusible Thermolam fleece). It adds the stiffness we are looking for and the fleece adds softness.
  • Cotton canvas: We use a 10 oz. weight. It adds stiffness and durability. Sometimes we use multiple layers of canvas to get the desired effect we are looking for. The cotton canvas we used is from Thompson Manufacturing.
  • Natural Duck Cloth: This is very similar to the cotton canvas. It is 100% cotton, 60” wide. It is manufactured by Schott International, Inc.
  • Timtex: This is a stiff, thick stabilizer. It holds the shape of your project, and you can press or steam your project back into shape if it becomes distorted with washing and use.
  • One product we have walked away from is Pellon Craft Fuse. We used it earlier on in our patterns but decided we didn’t like the papery / crunchy effect it gave the projects. Over time we’ve discovered that other Pellon interfacings used alone or in combination with Timtex, have a superior effect.
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28 Responses to Interfacing Guide from Amy Butler

  1. Donna says:

    A great tutorial.
    My only problem is that you have used brand names that are not particularly common in Australia. It would have been better if you could have described the product eg timtex – a thick stabiliser ….. is it like cardboard or is it sew in or fusable. I still don’t really know what it is and I am unable to purchase it locally.

  2. Ruth Belanger says:

    When I go to the Schott International or the Thompson Manufacturing sites, it’s hard to navigate to order canvas duck or Natural Duck Cloth for my messenger bag project. Is there an easy way to order this? I am not in a group but working the project on my own–for Christmas of course!
    Ruth

  3. NanaSewn says:

    interfacings have always been a mystery for me, thank you for the help

  4. [...] feature is from Sew Mama Sew with a great guide from Amy Butler: Your Guide to Interfacing We are so pleased to bring you this post! When we started planning bag month, we knew we had to [...]

  5. Amy B says:

    Thank you Kristen & Elizabeth! I will have to play around with the suggestions and see what works out best.

  6. Sally says:

    This is a great post! Definitely bookmarked. Super questions – thank you, everyone!

  7. iSew says:

    What a great post, thanks so much. I dread the interfacing part of bag making. eugh

  8. Tammy says:

    I have a question…whenever I use fusible interfacing, the fabric tends to look awful…all dimpled looking. I’ve tried ironing at lower temps, but then the interfacing doesn’t stick to the fabric! So basically, if it sticks, the fabric look bad. I iron it on smoothly, working from one side to another. Any help would be greatly appreciated! (Most of the fabric I use is lighter weight cotton/ cotton/poly.)

  9. Zoe says:

    Thank you so much for these tips. I grateful for the advice and I will definitely use it when I do my next project! This has always just been one of those things that make me go “hummmm”! :) Thanks!

  10. Kristin says:

    In response to some questions above, Dianne from Amy Butler Design emailed these responses:

    Zoe,

    Your question makes sense about the stitching being loose when you stitch across the thickness of the Timtex. We have had that happen as well. I tighten the tension just a notch on my machine and it seemed to work well. Play around with some of your scraps and see if this might work on your machine.

    Ruth,

    We have had our interfacing bubble up too. We fuse the interfacing to the exterior fabric and if it bubbles, just pull it back stopping at the bubbles. You need to do this while the fabric is still hot from fusing it in place. Once it cools down it doesn’t pull back as clean, just re-fuse the interfacing working from where it bubbled out to the edges. Do this on the fabric side with the interfacing underneath and/or with a pressing cloth depending on you fabric. We often interface the lining to give a project more stiffness.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Amy and Zoe,
    I’ve had the same problem with stretched/visible stitches when sewing through heavy interfacing and found that lengthening my stitch and easing up on the tension a little bit helped, without “compromising” the seam. I think (and I could easily be wrong!) that the problem with using standard stitch length/tension is that it becomes too tight when there are more layers. If I “relax” the stitch a bit, it allows the seam to sit more nicely, so it doesn’t pull when the project is turned right-side-out. I’ve also found that using Sewer’s Aid (silicone drops) on my needle helps keep my stitches more even when they’re going through lots of layers — particularly if the layers include fusibles. The tip in Amy’s tutorial about using a lightweight fusible over a smaller piece of heavy interfacing would probably solve the problem more cleanly though, since it would remove all but the lightest interfacing from the seam allowance.

  12. Amy B says:

    What great info! And I love the new look of the site.

    Zoe…….I, too have the same problem with stretched stitches after using think interfacing! I thought my tension was off or something. I am anxious to hear the solution if anyone out there has one!!!!

  13. Lisa says:

    Very helpful, thanks so much! Lisa.

  14. Ruth says:

    Another question for you…. When using fusible interfacing, should it be applied to the exterior fabric or the interior lining fabric? I’ve had fusibles that have bubbled….

  15. Zoe says:

    Okay, so after calming down about the new template and reading the guide to interfacing (LOL!) I actually do have a question that I thought I would ask here first because it is more of a sewing question. When sewing a project with thick interfacing, I notice that the thread seams show through when the project is turned right side out. It is because the interfacing is so thick that it pulls. I have tried serging the seam and it helps a bit. In the end, I usually iron the right side so that it kind of overlaps the seam. Is there a specific method or a different approach that I should be taking to prevent this? (I hope that this question makes sense?! )

  16. Tammy says:

    Thank you so much for the info!

  17. Beth says:

    What a fantastic resource! Wow… Thanks, Amy, Kim and Dianne!

  18. Zoe says:

    Okay, aside from the fact that I am excited to read the interfacing guide . . . I LOVE LOVE LOVE your new look!!!!!! I REALLY love it! It is soooooo cute and fresh. Love it!

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Wow! Thanks for all the great tips. I’ll also join the chorus of negative comments about Pellon Craft Fuse. It’s really awful stuff! Looking forward to trying the Timtex/Lightweight Fusible combo. That is such a fantastic idea!

  20. I love the new blog template. Also, thanks for the interfacing info, it can be confusing picking just the right one for the right project. Elaine

  21. Kerri says:

    Thanks for posting! She seems so nice. It’s easy to support someone w/great products as well as kindness.

  22. dawn says:

    That is a great tip about securing the Timtex. I have never had occasion to use Timtex, but I will definitely remember this tip. It could be used, I suppose, to secure any sew-in interfacing. Yes, I am very glad I stopped by today!

  23. Rachel says:

    Very useful info! I’m especially grafeful for the opinions on specific products. There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel.

  24. Katherine says:

    Thanks so much for all the helpful information! It will help make the task of choosing interfacing less daunting. I reallly appreciate the inclusion of what to substitute – I haven’t found Timtex locally as yet.

  25. stacy says:

    Fantastic tips, thanks for having Amy post this!

  26. Melissa says:

    I have to agree with the last bit about the Craft Fuse. Ack!! It was my only option at the time, but I really hate it.

  27. Nicole says:

    This is great! Thank you.

  28. Heather says:

    Thanks so much for this … it is very helpful information!

    ~Heather :)

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