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Carla Hegeman Crim, founder of Scientific Seamstress, developed a fantastic new resource for you! The Essential Sewing Reference Tool: All-in-One Visual Guide is out now, full of photos and comprehensive information on everything from sewing tools to sizing charts. Carla created a truly essential book for all of your garment or home sewing, with clear, useful information in an easy-to-access format. Carla covers seams, zippers, buttonholes, bias tape and so much more.

Today Carla and Stash Books are giving you the complete chapter in The Essential Sewing Reference Tool focused on the characteristics and selection of interfacing! You can download the PDF below, and you can also enter to win a copy of the book with your comment. We’ve relied on Carla’s expertise before here at Sew Mama Sew. She gave us lots of Tips and Techniques for Hems, and shared a three-part series on making ePatterns too. We also love Carla’s partnership with Jennifer Paganelli and have enjoyed the clear Sis Boom PDF patterns they develop together.

We think you’re going to love The Essential Sewing Reference Tool: All-in-One Visual Guide, and we know the interfacing guide below will be useful right away! Carla gives us some more tips below…

When I first started sewing for myself in my late teens, interfacing was a big mystery. I’m pretty sure I omitted it from my first few garments because 1) it would just slow me down and 2) who would know? Once I developed my skills a bit, I realized interfacing was necessary to give structure and stability in critical spots. I played around with fusibles and sew-ins, and definitely developed a preference for fusibles (no basting or dealing with sliding layers– Yay!). Unaware of the multitude of by-the-yard options available, I’d always buy the cheap packaged interfacing in the notions section. I used that stuff for years, despite the fact that it would bubble, pucker or peel away from the fabric in the wash.

It wasn’t until I started playing around with handbag sewing that my eyes were opened to the wonderful world of interfacings. Your local fabric store probably has 20-100 bolts of interfacing tucked in the back aisles or behind the cutting counter. At first glance, they all look like thin white (or black) fabric. On closer inspection, you can see that there are huge differences with regards to weights and textures, but not much in the way of descriptive copy on the ends of the bolts. If you pull the bolts from the rack and unroll them, you will likely find printed instructions with more information within. However, this method of interfacing selection is not the most efficient, and may invoke glares from store personnel.

The Essential Sewing Reference Tool contains a full chapter devoted to the characteristics and selection of interfacing, and Stash Books is providing it as a FREE download to Sew Mama Sew readers!

The first two charts break down fiber arrangement and weight. This will give you a general idea of what to look for in an interfacing. On the next two pages, interfacing products from major suppliers are listed by trade name, and grouped according to weave and fusibility. Say you are looking for a woven interfacing to use with a sheer fabric. The chart gives two fusible and one sew in-option.

The owner of Fashion Sewing Supply, Pam Erny, was a wonderful resource for the development of these tables. She is so knowledgeable, and is always willing to walk customers through the task of interfacing selection. I asked her to share some “insider tips” (pun intended) for selecting and using interfacing:

Tips for Selecting + Using Interfacing

1. Some interfacings, like those from Fashion Sewing Supply, do not need pre-shrinking, but some do… So ALWAYS read the instructions that come with the interfacing you purchase.

2. Before applying any kind interfacing always preshrink your “fashion fabric” by washing it the same way you will be washing the garment after you make it.

3. YES, you can apply a knit interfacing to a woven fabric as they play well together! But, it is rarely a good idea to apply a woven interfacing to a knit fabric; they usually really don’t get along.

4. Buying wide width interfacing always saves you money, and makes layout easier.

5. Never be shy to ask your interfacing vendor questions… After all, they know all about the products they sell.

6. Modern interfacings do not “go bad”… They will last for years when stored out of direct sunlight.

7. YES! you can fix wrinkled fusible interfacing! Here’s a nifty PDF tutorial from Fashion Sewing Supply.

I also asked “If someone just wanted two or three good standby interfacings on hand, what would you recommend?” Her response:

Top Three Standby Interfacings

1. Tricot Knit Fusible is good all around multipurpose interfacing, and most tricot interfacing can be applied in a double layer if you need extra support.

2. Lightweight Woven Fusible is a must for sewing shirts of every kind.

3. Lightweight Weft: Have a yard on hand… You never know when you might feel like sewing up a quick little jacket to wear with the new skirt you just made!

Download your PDF Interfacing Guide from The Essential Sewing Reference Tool: All-in-One Visual Guide, and enter to win a copy of the book with your comment. (Just tell us what you’re sewing this weekend…) Winners with US addresses can choose an eBook or hard copy, and international winners can win an eBook.

Other stops on Carla’s tour, with more chances to win and lots to see and learn:
March 3: Ginger Dimples (All about buttonholes)
March 4: How to Sew (Ruffle tips + tote project)
March 5: Paisley Roots (All about adjusting patterns)
March 6: The Bitchy Stitcher and Welcome to the Mouse House
March 7: Pink Chalk Studio
March 9: Sisboom