What is interfacing? (and why do I need it in my sewing?)

Interfacing, interlining and linings all sound very similar, and it can therefore get a bit confusing when you first discover them, especially as these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But they do all serve a slightly different purpose, and your sewing will improve dramatically if you begin to understand and apply them to best effect. I recently wrote about interlining, and today I’ll tell you all about interfacing.

What is interfacing?

Interfacing is an extra layer of fabric that you can use to give your sewing additional strength, durability or sculptability, particularly around facings. To that end, it tends to be used on parts of garments susceptible to increased strain or wear and tear. For example, interfacing can be used on:

  • Cuffs
  • Collars
  • Button plackets
  • Necklines
  • Sleeves
  • Pockets
  • Zip openings and other fastenings
  • Decorative details such as splits in skirts

Different types of interfacing

You can use different types of material for interfacing. Some are lightweight and just give a more subtle layer of strength (imagine how you’d strengthen a partial placket on a sheer summer dress). However, interfacing may need to be more robust for certain projects (for example using starched canvas on a tailored suit collar). You can buy fusible interfacing that your iron into your garment, or interfacing that is sewn in. Bias tape is also another option for strengthening garments, and is particularly used around necklines.

How do I use interfacing?

Generally speaking, interfacing is cut to the size of the area you are aiming to strengthen. Depending on which part of the garment you are working with, interfacing may be cut to the same size as a particular pattern piece (for example a collar), or to cover a more general area (for example, a rectangle around a zip opening).

When using fusible interfacing, I like to trim it down ever so slightly smaller than the pattern piece I have cut it from (to avoid it fusing to the ironing board!) However, if you are looking to get a sharp, precise finish on a cuff or collar for example, your canvas might need to be cut to the exact size of your pattern piece.

Certain types of interfacing can be bonded to your garment fabric if they have an adhesive side (fusible interfacing), usually through ironing. Others will be sewn to specific pieces of the garment using a basting stitch, before the actual garment is sewn together properly. Stiffened interfacing such as starched canvas will simply be ‘slotted’ into the desired area (hence the need for very precise pattern pieces).

Love to sew?

I hope that’s been a helpful bit of sewing advice; I certainly found using interlining and interfacing transformed my sewing once I had discovered them. And if you love to sew, you might be interested in joining my Creative Sewing Challenge. You receive a new prompt each month to inspire your sewing; members of the community respond in whatever way they fancy, and I share ideas and tutorials tied to each theme throughout the month. Find out more here or sign up below:

And here’s a handy pin to share on Pinterest – thank you!