How and When to Use Interfacing

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


Interfacing can be your best friend and your worst enemy. It does its job really well (adding rigidity to fabric) but it can also be tricky to work with.

Here’s the lowdown on using interfacing for your next sewing project:

When to use interfacing:

Interfacing is used to add stiffness to fabric. The interfacing you’ll find in a craft store today is fusible, and it’s applied to the wrong side of the fabric with an iron. There’s also non-fusible interfacing, which needs to be sewn in, and works best on fabrics that do not tolerate heat or are too loosely woven (the glue from fusible interfacing would seep through to the right side of the garment).

On garments, patterns will typically call for areas needing extra body, like a shirt collar, or strength, like buttonholes, to be interfaced. If you are working with a knit fabric, you might use interfacing to keep the fabric from stretching out of shape. The pattern will usually tell you what type of interfacing to buy and how much.

Interfacing is also used frequently in home décor projects; typically, you’ll want to use decor bond interfacing for these projects.

How to choose interfacing:

There are a few important factors to consider when choosing interfacing.

The first is if you need woven, non-woven or knit interfacing. Non-woven interfacing does not have a grain and is suitable for most interfacing needs. Woven interfacing does have a grain, much like fabric, and the interfacing should be cut the same way the fabric was (on the bias, on the lengthwise grain, etc.). Knit interfacing has a bit of a stretch and is suitable for interfacing knit fabrics.

The next factor is the weight of the interfacing. Interfacing comes in three weights: light weight, medium weight and heavyweight. The weight of the interfacing should be equal to, or a bit lighter than, the fabric.

How to apply interfacing:

This is where things than can get ugly.

To apply the interfacing, lay your fabric right side down on your ironing board. Next, lay the interfacing fusible side down on top of the fabric. The fusible side will have a bumpiness to it, whereas the non-fusible side will be smooth. Then, lay a damp pressing cloth (I usually use an old dish towel) on top of the interfacing. Press the iron down for 15 seconds (10 for lightweight fabrics). If you need to move the iron to apply heat to another portion of the fabric, pick up the iron and set it down, don’t glide it. If you glide the iron, you run the risk of shifting the layers of fabric and interfacing, and you could end up with a mess on your ironing board cover.

If you skip the pressing cloth, you will end up with fusible interfacing stuck to your iron plate. This is not a fun situation to find yourself in, so double check that your pressing cloth is covering the entire piece of fabric and interfacing.

If you do get interfacing on your iron (something I’ve done more times than I’m willing to admit), unplug your iron and let it cool. You should be able to peel off most of the interfacing. This is time consuming and annoying. You can use a solution like Goo Gone to get rid of any sticky residue.

Some sewists recommend adding a second press cloth underneath the fabric, just in case. This protects your ironing board cover, in the event that the fabric and interfacing shifts.

Ready to dig into interfacing details? Then check out Craftys’s Guide to Interfacings, Linings & Facings!

Do you have any tips for working with interfacing?


  1. Hi, i don’t know who designed this blog but i can tell you that the font is hard to read & when i highlight some of the text it is fuzzy – has to be the font design but would surely be easier to read if it weren’t fuzzy. it is almost like an enlarged image – love everything craftsy but wish for this change. since i was a web developer before i retired, maybe if you talked to yours they could help out

  2. Kate says:

    Interfacing is not only used for body or stiffening or just knits. Interfacing is used around curved openings to maintain shape as any fabric cut on the bias ( like the neck opening of a collarless dress) will stretch when sewn. In this case you do not want to add weight or stiffness, but if you skip the interfacing you will have a very sloppy looking neckline.

  3. wandie says:

    you can also use a dryer sheet to clean your iron, just run your hot iron across the sheet and goo gone. i keep one under the cover of my ironing surface in the corner
    so i have it there at all times! (not my ironing board, i have an ironing surface on my cutting table)

  4. Demetria says:

    I always wondered what the differences were when it came to interfacing. When I would buy a pattern and it required interfacing, it would usually just say which weight to buy. So I would be totally confused when I would go to the fabric store and see so many different kinds of interfacing available. You helped to demystify the subject of interfacing for me more! Like Kate said and I also learned from the Sewing with Knits class, interfacing strengthens seams too such as shoulders and necklines and pockets.

    I don’t have any issues with reading the font, it is a sans serif font which is very clean looking which I prefer. I also adjusted my monitor’s display settings to a higher DPI font and other accessability settings.

  5. 8dove8 says:

    I have a tip for cleaning a Teflon pressing sheet which has sticky interfacing residue…cool…then scrape off with the long edge of a plastic credit card…often the residue is hard to see but you can feel it and it will transfer to your iron…fabric or ironing board cover if not removed…
    For older eyes this font is difficult to see…if it was darker/bold it might be easier to read…it’s just not enough contrast with the background…

  6. Cathy says:

    I always like to trim about 1/2″ off the interfacing pieces so that there is not extra bulk in the seam allowances. The 1/8th inch that is left is just enough to ensure that the interfacing gets sewn down in your garment construction process. There are a few exceptions to that, like with edges that need to be interfaced all the way to a fold line for instance. Those edges need the entire width of interfacing.

  7. Kathy says:

    I have a tote that has an area for cross-stitching a pattern. I was planing on using interfacing to protect the stitches inside the tote so things can be slid in and out with out messing with the stitches. Is interfacing the way to go here?

    1. Cappy says:

      Using interfacing to protech your stiching is a good idea, but only for a short (one week long) usage. Interfacing will fray out like a felt if used without a protective layer of fabric atop it.
      If you want to simply protect the stitching without resorting to sewing, try an iron-on fabric patch. It will last much longer and is easy to apply.

  8. @Kathy There are interfacings that are specifically designed for use with embroidery. A lot of them are for stabilizing the stitches, but there is a “cover the back” type of backing you can use to protect the back of your cross stitches. Unfortunately, I’m not sure where you can buy it at retail.

    Gunold Cover the Back Backing.
    Cover the Back is a Polyester, circular knit mesh, with Polyamide adhesive coating. Its main use is to cover the back of your embroidery design. Cover the Back prevents a coarse embroidery design from touching sensitive skin. Great for baby apparel, polo shirts, lingerie, sports apparel or any embroidery that may be irritating to the skin.