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What is Sew-In Interfacing? 6 Types Explained & When to Use

Learn what sew-in interfacing is, the different types there are, and when to use them. All explained simply, with pictures.

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Sew-in interfacing gives structure to a piece of fabric. It’s sewn onto the fabric it’s supporting, not glued. It’s also called non-fusible interfacing.

It can be made from many fibers, from polyester to cotton. Some are light-weight, and others are heavy. You can get woven and non-woven types too.

Today, you’ll learn:

  • 6 different types of sew-in interfacing. (Skip to this)
  • How to pick the right one for your sewing project. (Skip to this)
  • What fabrics suit sew-in interfacing.
What is sew-in interfacing? Different types and when to use them.

If you’re not sure what type of interfacing you need in the first place, check out my ‘sew-in vs. fusible interfacing’ article.


Different types of sew-in interfacing

Types of sew-in interfacing: heavy weight hair canvas and vilene s13

Sew-in interfacings can be very different.

They come in all sorts of weights, fibers, and weaves.

Picking the right one for your project is important.

Lightweight interfacings are made for lightweight fabrics, and thick interfacings are for thick fabrics.

If you use stiff or thick interfacing on a light and drapey fabric, it will completely change the fabrics look and feel. Keep this in mind when buying.

Here are 6 types of sew-in interfacings to consider. I have listed them from light to heavy weight:

  1. Organza. This fabric is see-through, lightweight, and has a lot of body. Silk organza is better than polyester. It can change character slightly to suit the main fabric. Polyester won’t adapt.
  1. Cotton batiste. It’s very light and slightly sheer, but not as sheer as organza. You’ll see this in children’s sewing.
  1. Light to medium-weight woven interfacing. For example, Pellon SF785 which is a woven, cotton/rayon blend. You can use this when you want a crisp look. For example, in men’s shirt collars.
  1. Light to medium-weight non-woven interfacing. For example, the lightweight Pellon 905, made from 100% polyester. Like the woven version, it’s used to give body to light to medium weight fabrics like shirts and dresses. Unlike the woven type, you can cut this in any direction because there’s no grainline.
  1. Thick and lofty non-woven interfacing. For example, Vilene S13. This is used to give structure to thick materials. For example, the front parts of a heavy-weight jacket, or in a bag.
  1. Hair canvas. This is heavy, stiff, and very structured. It’s commonly used in tailored jackets that are lined. It’s important to line hair canvas because it feels quite rough, so you don’t want it next to your skin. It gives support to shoulders, collar stands, and the front parts of jackets. It’s normally used in small pieces, not an entire garment.

BONUS: did you know you can use your main fabric as sew-in interfacing too?

If I was making a light or medium weight linen top, I could use the same linen to interface the cuffs, for example. I would baste and sew it like a normal sew-in interfacing.

I wouldn’t do this with thick fabric because it could get too bulky.


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When to use sew-in interfacing

Sew-in interfacing is a good choice when you’re working with:

  • Open-weave fabric
  • Sheer fabric
  • Crinkled and textured fabric
  • Heat-sensitive fabric that can’t be pressed with an iron
  • Shirts
  • Tailored jackets

Open-weave fabric (eg. lace)

Open-weave fabrics have gaps between the threads, like lace.

Fusible interfacing won’t work here. When there are gaps in the fabric, it will have nothing to stick to. That’s why sew-in interfacing is ideal.

Sheer fabric

Use sew-in interfacing when you want to make a sheer fabric less see-through.

Crinkled and textured fabrics

Let’s say you want to interface a crinkled fabric, but you don’t want to lose its interesting texture. That means using fusible interfacing isn’t an option. The high heat it needs would flatten your fabric. In this situation, use sew-in interfacing.

Fabrics that can’t be pressed or ironed

For example, sequins, fur, and beading.

These will normally be damaged by heat. Ironing fusible interfacing to them could melt and burn them. Use sew-in interfacing instead.

Shirts

Sew-in interfacings are often used in shirt collars, collar stands, bands, and cuffs.

This is a great option if you’re scared of “bubbling” happening, which is a risk with fusible interfacing.

Fusible interfacings can shrink in the wash and start pulling away from the fabric. This creates an annoying “bubbling” look on your garment.

Tailored jackets

Jackets need good structure at the top.

Sew-in interfacings, like hair canvas, are commonly used in classic tailored jackets.

In contemporary tailoring, jackets can be made using a combination of sew-in and fusible interfacings.


Is sew-in interfacing non-woven?

You can get woven and non-woven types.

If your interfacing looks like a mesh of fibers, with no obvious warp and weft threads, it’s a non-woven type.

white non-woven sew-in interfacing by Vilene

Sew-in interfacings like organza, cotton batiste, and hair canvas are woven.

woven sew-in interfacing hair canvas

Can you iron sew-in interfacing?

Generally, yes. But I recommend cutting a small piece of your interfacing and testing it first.


Is sew-in interfacing washable?

Generally, yes.

Check the manufacturer’s website for details, like whether it’s machine washable and at what temperature.

I found washing instructions for my Vilene S13 on the selvage edge. The “95” sign means I can wash it at a maximum of 95 degrees. The “P” sign means I can dry clean it too.

vilene s13 interfacing washing instructions

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Sources

National Sewing Circle. (2014). ‘Types of Interfacing Fabric and Interfacing Sewing | National Sewing Circle’. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=365PQ_7UhCc

Linda Lee via Bluprint class. ‘Underneath It All: Guide to Interfacings, Linings & Facings’. [online] Available at: https://shop.mybluprint.com/sewing/classes/underneath-it-all/35228 [Accessed: 1 June 2020]