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What happens when you are sewing and you realize that you have run out of interfacing? It may be the middle of the night or you may live in the middle of nowhere.

But all is not lost. You may have the perfect substitution for interfacing right around your house. Look to see if you have some of the same material, light-weight fabric (ie. organza, cotton or linen), felt, a recycled sheet, a blanket, landscaping fabric, plastic canvas, cardboard, coffee filters, or used dryer sheets. Depending on what you are sewing, one of these might be something that you can use instead of interfacing.

How do you know which would be best to use?

Use your best judgment as to which would give the body and support you need in your garment or project. You will want the interfacing to be of the same weight or lighter.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the interfacing choices.

 Interfacing for Light-Weight Fabric

  • The easiest would be to use some of the same fabric. This is what my grandma used to use before the store-bought interfacing became so popular. The same fabric will give your garment body and support.  Also, the garment and the interfacing will have the same shrinkage. So you won’t have to worry whether one will shrink more than the other.
  • Cotton Batiste is lightweight and semi-sheer that has a little crispness and doesn’t wrinkle easily. All in all it’s an easy fabric to sew.
  • Broadcloth is a thin-woven material but sturdy. It wrinkles easily so make sure to iron any wrinkles before cutting.
  • Muslin is light and less bulky. Must preshrink and iron before using. Make sure all the wrinkles are out.
  • Organza is light and soft. If you are sewing with silk, a silk organza would be a perfect match.
  • Recycled sheet. Make sure the sheet is washed and ironed. If the wrinkles are hard to iron out, your garment will look wrinkled too. So don’t use. Nothing worse than having a dress, shirt, or slacks that always look wrinkled no matter what.
  • Landscaping fabric. This is what landscapers and gardeners spread on the ground to stop grass from growing. It is black, light-weight and very much like sewing interfacing. The best part about using landscaping fabric is that it’s much cheaper than interfacing. Check your local box-store. I can buy a roll of landscaping fabric (3′ x 300′) for between $10 – $20. It just depends on the weight that you want.
  • For smaller pieces of interfacing, you can try coffee filters.
  • Used dryer sheets. I know that some people use dryer sheets. The sheets have a fragrance which can be nice and refreshing but many people are allergic to this added fragrance. These sheets may, also, leave a grease stain on your fabric which you definitely don’t want. Also, it can leave grease on your sewing machine. I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to have to deal with trying to clean all this greasy gunk out of my machine.

So for those reasons, I personally have not tried using dryer sheets. But I know that some people do. So I included it in the list of possible choices.

Interfacing for Heavy-Weight Fabric or Projects

  • Fabric that is lighter in weight but still strong enough to give support.
  • Felt.  Soft and easy to work with. Best to use with projects that don’t need to be laundered.
  • Piece of a blanket. Might be perfect to use with heavier material.
  • Plastic canvas. Good choice to use on projects that need a lot of support.
  • Cardboard. Perfect for projects that need to be sturdy but will not be washed.

Do I Need to Prewash/Preshrink My Fabric Interfacing?

The easy answer is yes. Anything that will be washed in the future should be preshrunk except 100% polyester. 100% polyester doesn’t shrink so it doesn’t need to be prewashed.

I know this is obvious but if you prewash all of your fabric as soon as you get it, you won’t have to worry about preshrinking any of the fabric you want to use for interfacing.

If you have trouble with your yardage getting all twisted up in the washer and dryer while prewashing it, try this tip. Sew the cut ends together. This will make your fabric half as long and should make the washing experience much easier. This will also help you to know if the fabric has been prewashed.

But why all the fuss about preshrinking?

Preshrinking will prevent anything weird happening after you wash your finished garment. It’s not a good thing when you take your clothes out of the dryer to find that the interfacing has shrunk more than the garment fabric. The garment will never lay flat or look good enough to wear. So taking the time to preshrink the fabric that you use as interfacing is well worth it.

Also, if you prewash your fabric interfacing, it will help you to know what your interfacing will look like after it’s laundered. Will it be less stiff or have too many wrinkles? This could end up being a deciding factor.

How Do You Prewash Fabric Interfacing?

In most cases, you will want to prewash the fabric interfacing just like you would wash the completed garment.

What do you do if you don’t know the washing instructions for your fabric?

One trick I use is to look at the washing instructions of store-bought clothes that I have hanging in my closet. I look for clothes that are made of the same or similar materials as my fabric.

In case this doesn’t work well for you, I’ve gathered washing directions for the materials listed above.

Cotton Batiste: Hand wash with a gentle detergent and drip dry

Broadcloth: Wash warm water and dry low heat.

Muslin: For colors, wash in cold water and use low heat to dry. For white muslin, use warm or hot water and low heat to dry.

Organza: Silk organza should be hand washed in cool water with a delicate detergent. Press water out instead of wringing. Hang to dry or lay flat.

Synthetic organza may be machine washed in cold water on gentle cycle and dry on low heat.

Flannel loves to shrink. So it might help to prewash it in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. This should help to get as much shrinking out.

After your garment is constructed, wash flannel in warm water and dry on low or no heat.

**Tip: After prewashing, iron out any wrinkles before cutting.

Do You Really Need to Use Interfacing?

Do you want your garment to keep its shape and to drape well? If you do, then you need to use interfacing.

Interfacing is used for:

  • Adding body and stiffness
  • Helping garment to hang right
  • Helping knits from stretching out of shape
  • Stabilizing curved areas, such as necklines, to prevent stretching of the fabric as you sew
  • Strengthening shoulder seams and pockets
  • Bringing crispness to collars

By using interfacing, you will give your garment a sharp look. It will have the body that it needs to keep it from looking limp and looking “homemade”.

If you look at high-end clothing in the store, you will find that a majority of them use interfacing as an underlining. So if you really want your clothes to have that professional look, you may want to consider using interfacing on your entire garment. This means to have interfacing covering all of your pieces of the garment including sleeves, facings, front, and back.

If you plan to interface your entire garment, you might want to use a fusible instead of an interfacing substitute because it will be easier to use. But this gives you an idea of what you can do to take a step up in your sewing.

There is a knit fusible that works well on most fabrics that can withstand the heat of an iron. It comes in both black and white. So if you have a good supply of both colors you will be set.

How to Attach Your Substitute Interfacing to Fabric

Since your substitute interfacing is not fusible, it will take a little more time because you need to sew it in. But it is easy to do.

  1. Cut your interfacing using the pattern pieces for the parts of your garment that you will be interfacing. Cut the interfacing the exact size of the pattern. You won’t need to trim it at all.
  2. Pin the interfacing to the wrong side of the garment piece.
  3. Sew the interfacing to the fabric using a seam allowance that is 1/4″ less than your garment.
  4. Trim the interfacing close to the stitching line.