Bag Interfacing Reviews ~ All About Interfacing

on December 17 | in Products, Sewing + Quilting Tips | by | with 7 Comments

Anna from Charmed Liebling designs bags and bag sewing patterns, and she also sells bags in her shop. Today she shares her favorite interfacing/stabilizer product options for making bags, with tips for the best way to use each product. Anna reviews Soft and Stable, Timtex, fast2fuse Heavyweight, Stiff Stuff, Roc-Lon Multipurpose Cloth and two versions of Vilene Decovil which is more common outside the United States. Please add your thoughts about various types of interfacing in the comments below! We hope this will be a great resource similar to our Iron Reviews. For more on interfacing we also have our comprehensive Interfacing Guide from Amy Butler and don’t miss our great selection of free bag tutorials and patterns.

Anna is currently holding a Christmas sale on Craftsy; find all of her sewing patterns for $6.00 (original price $9.00), no coupon code necessary!


I love designing and sewing handbags, wallets, totes and basically everything purse-related. If you are a bag-making enthusiast like me, you will probably know how important it is to use really good interfacing in your projects…

Soft and Stable

  • Sew-in stabilizer
  • 100% polyester
  • 58″ wide
  • Machine wash and dry
  • Comes in black and in white

Although this is by far the thickest of all stabilizers, Soft and Stable is perfect for bag making, especially if you are looking to make bigger bags that should still be able to hold shape. I measured it to be 5/32″ (0.4 cm) thick but due to its foam center it can be compressed easily. This makes it a pleasure to work with since Soft and Stable is a sew-in stabilizer.

The foamy structure lets you use a regular needle and you can crunch your item up completely which is especially important if you don’t have a lot of throat space on your sewing machine. It is a little stretchy, so I like to only baste on a few spots when attaching it to the fabric (like curves e. g.), just to make sure it will stay in place when I assemble my bag.

In the picture below you can see one of my bag exteriors (wrong side out!) already assembled and standing upright thanks to Soft and Stable. (The bag is empty, I did not put anything inside to support it.)

This is the finished bag, made with my California Sunshine Bag pattern. I used Soft and Stable for the main body panels, the side panel and the flap, and could not be happier with the result. The bag has great body, does not collapse and is strong enough to carry tons of stuff!

I also used Soft and Stable for this baby, the Rhine Valley Bag, which I just added as a sewing pattern to my shop last week. This bag is pretty big (12″ x 18″ x 4″) but Soft and Stable makes it look really polished and professional and even though my sewing machine does not have a lot of throat space, I had no problem at all assembling this bag! I highly recommend this product if you are planning on making big bags like this one.

Where to buy: byannie.com, local quilt shops

Timtex

  • Sew-in stabilizer, non-woven
  • 100% polyester
  • 20″ wide
  • Machine wash and dry

When it comes to thickness, Timtex comes in second behind Soft and Stable. I measured 1/16″ or 1.5 mm. Timtex is a sew-in stabilizer.

You will either have to baste it to your fabric before assembling your bag (in this case I recommend using a thicker needle (100/16) or seal it with fusible interfacing. If you go with the interfacing you will need to cut it smaller than the fabric piece; a good rule of thumb is the seam allowance plus another 1/8″. Place it centered and cover it with fusible interfacing.

When sewing your item together you will stitch along the edge of Timtex (but since you added another 1/8″ you will not be very likely to accidentally stitch through it.

Even though it is thicker than most other stabilizers, including Pellon Peltex, I found it surprisingly easy to work with Timtex. I actually basted it to my fabric since I wanted to see what it would look like once I turn my item right side out. I was really surprised to notice that it does not leave much bulk in the seam allowance. Trim down your seam allowance as much as possible; I personally cut my 3/8″ seam allowance down to a little more than 1/8″. It was easy to press the seams open.

Timtex comes in a craft pack with a 15″ x 18″ big piece. If you are into making smaller pouches and wallets, this is definitely a product you may want to try.

I used it to make a Classy Clutch, which I like to be quite sturdy. Timtex seemed to be just the right choice for this project. This clutch measures 5 x 9.25″.

In this close up you can see that almost no bulk is visible in the seam allowance, even though Timtex is pretty thick.

Where to buy: C&T Publishing, Spring Water Designs

fast2fuse Heavyweight

  • Double-sided fusible stabilizer, non-woven
  • 100 % polyester
  • 20″ wide
  • Machine wash cold and dry on low heat

With a thickness of a little more than 1/32″ (1 mm) fast2fuse is slightly thinner than Timtex. It has a very dense structure and is fusible on both sides. This means you can cut it smaller than your actual fabric piece: trim off the seam allowance on all edges of fast2fuse and then place it centered onto your fabric piece. Since there is no stabilizer on the seam allowances you will have less bulk in the seams.

What I like about this product is the fact that it gets really soft when you press it. I felt that with the stabilizer still being warm and soft from ironing it was much easier to fold down the boxed corners for the purse I used it for. The warmth takes away some of the sturdiness of the product which makes it very easy to fold corners, curves, pleats and such on your projects.
I made this little wristlet/cross-body purse, using fast2fuse for the main body panels and the flap. This purse measures 5.5″ x 8.5″.

This product lives up to its name as I was surprised how fast (!) it fuses to the fabric; it literally took me only seconds (the instructions call for pressing it for about 5 seconds with a hot, dry iron, but I don’t even think that I needed that long). It sticks really nicely to the fabric, even on the edges. In my experience some fusible stabilizers tend to come off along the edges, but not fast2fuse.

Since fast2fuse is fusible on both sides you might want to use a non-stick pressing sheet under the product when ironing.

Fast2fuse does not leave lots of wrinkles on your item and I like how smooth the exterior fabric looks.

Where to buy: C&T Publishing, Joggles

Stiff Stuff

  • Sew-in stabilizer, non-woven
  • 100% polyester
  • 20″wide

Stiff Stuff is similar to Timtex and fast2fuse but thinner and more flexible. It’s a little less rigid and less dense, and I am able to see my blue cutting mat through it. It still keeps its shape and is very firm in your bag. It does not stretch so it is easy to baste it to the fabric. After crinkling it wrinkles quickly disappear.

I used it for this bigger drawstring bag, since I wanted to check if Stiff Stuff really has the strength to support a big bag. This bag measures 15″ x 13.5″ and stands upright without any help. Stiff Stuff is flexible and soft enough for your bag to be folded up as well!

Another plus is that it does not leave much bulk in the seam allowance. You can fold your bag and it will bounce right back and stand up straight with no pleats or wrinkles showing. This product is very easy to handle, again recommended when sewing a larger bag and your sewing machine does not have a lot of throat space. Since it still allows for your item to be folded up I would also recommend it for projects like grocery totes which you want to be able to fold up and store in your handbag.

There is a nice video on the Lazy Girl Designs webiste which demonstrates how Stiff Stuff bounces back into shape after crunching. (Check out the demo video.)

Where to buy: Quilters Warehouse, Sew Thankful, local quilt shops

Roc-Lon Multipurpose Cloth

  • Sew-in stabilizer, woven
  • 70% polyester and 30% cotton
  • 54″ wide

Roc-Lon Multipurpose Cloth is the only woven stabilizer that I would like to introduce to you today. It is actually a product not solely intended for sewing projects. You might also use this for scrapbooking, making cloth pictures frames or even signs and banners to mention only a few suggestions from their website. A subscriber of my blog introduced me to it and said she uses it for bag making, so of course I had to give it a go!

Roc-Lon Multipurpose Cloth is non-fusible, so it has to be basted to your fabric. However, it lies very smoothly down on the fabric and it does not stretch when basting.

There will be no pleats or wrinkles! It is a little heavier than some other stabilizers; I would say it even feels a little bit like really thick fabric and not so much like your typical bag stabilizer.

I like to use this material especially when I make small to medium-sized bags; I use it for all my Rose Petal Bags. These bags measure approx. 6.75″ x 10.5″ and have darts at the bottom edges to give them more volume. Multipurpose Cloth gives them a very nice structure and does not make them too sturdy.

It is easy to stitch through the stabilizer but especially when sewing lots of layers (e.g. when sewing the stabilized flap to the main body) I would recommend a thicker needle (90/14), just to be on the safe side.

Notice the darts at the bottom corner of the bag. It was really easy to sew and the seams look very neat.

Where to buy: Joann’s, Fabric Depot, Hancock Fabrics

Vilene Decovil

The last two products are not widely available in the US yet but I decided to include them in this review since Sew Mama Sew gets lots of traffic from overseas as well and also because I mention this product on my blog a lot. It is a Vilene product and I am hoping that it will be widely available in the States in the future. So far I have only found a few online stores that sell it in the US.

Decovil I

  • Fusible stabilizer, non-woven
  • 42% polyester, 35% rayon, 23% polyamide
  • 1 yd wide
  • Machine wash

This is a product that I use for all of my wallets, without any exception. I tried other stabilizers and it just isn’t the same. Decovil is a non-woven, fusible stabilizer and has a leather-like feel to it. It is really flexible and bendable without crinkling at all. It is pretty sturdy at the same time, which is what will give your finished item its professional look (and touch) at the end.

The reason I stopped using it for bigger bags is simply that my sewing machine throat space is not made for this, otherwise I would use it for a lot more bags. For my wallets however, it is just perfect. When I make a wallet I want it to be quite sturdy, since the wear and tear is probably even harder than on my handbags.

There are some helpful tips when working with Decovil:

  • Due to its sturdiness you want to leave a big enough opening in your lining to be able to turn it right side out.
  • As with other fusible stabilizers make sure to cut Decovil the size of your fabric piece minus the seam allowance. This will not only prevent too much bulk in your seams but it will also be less stressful for your needle and the seams will look much neater when you turn your item right side out at the end.
  • The instructions call for pressing firmly using a damp cloth for 6 seconds, to attach Decovil to the wrong side of your fabric. However, when making my wallets I don’t even fuse it to the fabric before assembling but rather put the Decovil inside the item at the end, when it is already turned right side out. Simply slide the Decovil piece into the wallet and flatten out. Stitch the opening close and iron the item, Decovil will attach to the fabric and the surface will be smooth and flat.

Two Trifold Wallets I made with Decovil I.

Where to buy: TOKO Kurzwaren via Amazon.com, Creative Sewing Shop, U-Handbag


Decovil Light:

  • Fusible stabilizer, non-woven
  • 42% polyester, 35% rayon, 23% polyamide
  • 1 yd wide
  • Machine wash

Decovil light, as the name already tells you, is a little bit thinner, softer and more flexible than Decovil I but other than that it has the same features. It is fusible on one side as well, as you can see in the picture. You will also notice that you can even see my cutting mat through it on the right-hand side. Still it is stronger than regular interfacing due to the leather-like structure.

I would recommend using it whenever you feel like Decovil I could be too stiff to be comfortable enough for sewing, e.g. when making a bag with lots of pleats, which would add up to too much bulk for your sewing machine to handle stitching through all the layers of fabric and interfacing/stabilizer.

I also like to use it for items where I want the “leather-like” finish on an item but not the quite the stiffness which Decovil I provides. I like to use it especially when making book covers.

Sorry, this one is only black, hence a little boring, but I made it as a cover for sheet music for choral singing! I wanted this cover to be as thin as possible and also be flexible enough to easily and quickly slide my books in and out. Decovil light provides just enough flexibility for this.

I have also used Decovil light as stabilizer for card slots in wallets. It gives them a nice sturdiness that regular interfacing does not necessarily provide.

Where to buy: Creative Sewing Shop


Conclusion: When working with stabilizers you will find your favorite ones after awhile, and while I honestly can say that I will continue using all of the above mentioned stabilizers again, I have to admit that I have my preferences for different sorts of projects. This is just my personal opinion, though, so I recommend trying them out yourself and see which ones you like best for your bag making.

Happy sewing, everyone.

Thanks to all the many sponsors of this blog post: Annie Unrein, Rockland Industries, Inc., Lazy Girl Designs, C & T Publishing, Inc., Freudenberg Vilene Weinheim/Germany

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7 Responses to Bag Interfacing Reviews ~ All About Interfacing

  1. Gaylynne says:

    Thank you for your help. Happy new year

  2. beverly says:

    i used a rather thick inter facing on a denim tote and I would like to reduce the bulk in the seams.How should I do that?

  3. Anna says:

    Hi Rae,
    Thanks for your comment! I thought about including Pellon Peltex in my review but I figured since it was so wide spread most sewers will probably be familiar with it – this is why I put the focus on the ones that are not that common. If you are knew to stabilizers I hope that this review will help you to get an overview on all the different products out there :)

  4. Rae says:

    what about Peltex? is that related? i know next to nothing about bag stabilizers but it seems likes that one is listed in quite a few patterns.

  5. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for the product review. It is exactly what I needed.

  6. Peggy says:

    Thanks for the review. It’s always hard to keep up with what stabilizer is best for what project. Now I know!

  7. Christine says:

    Thank you so much! I live in the Netherlands and here, there aren’t actually a lot of real fabric stores, so getting your hands on interfacing (or other products) to see how they feel is fairly difficult. Your post is wonderfully helpful. I’ll be buying both types of decovil now to try them out.

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