Sunday, March 27, 2016

Handy sewing hint of the day #11

First of all Happy Easter.

Whatever your own spiritual and religious beliefs IMO there is something to mediate on today, basically the concept that when you think it might be all over it isn't, when you are down you might not be out. A worthwhile message I think.

Now smoothly transitioning to interfacing.

I talked a few hints back about how to apply fusible interfacing and I have written about it before but there are two things I want you to consider:

1. Use more than one kind of interfacing in a garment.
2. Use way more and in more places than your pattern suggests.

Just like a good bra and character, interfacing is one more demonstration that what is underneath shows on the quality of the outside.

It is helpful to think first of what interfacing is supposed to do:


  • Shore up the fabric under busy/heavy areas. This would be front facings where you are going to be inserting buttonholes and buttons for instance, parts of the front of a jacket where you are going to be inserting a welt, slot, or in loosely woven fabrics vulnerable to drooping, a patch pocket. Here I have interfaced the top hem of a patch pocket so it will stay flat against the jacket:

  • To freeze a loose weave so it will hold up over time - for example I would fuse a light knit interfacing to the wrong side of a homespun or loose raw silk so it won't bag with wearing.
  • To change the characteristics of a knit fabric to something more stable - for instance by fusing narrow strips of fusible interfacing along shoulder seam lines, in the seam allowances where you might be inserting a zipper. I also fuse interfacing on the wrong side of a knit under where I am putting a patch pocket, both to support it and to make sure I can top-stitch the pocket down without waves.
Fusible knit, cut lengthwise in the direction of no stretch, fused into a shoulder seam area in a T shirt

Interfaced seam allowance in a knit where I am going to insert an invisible zipper

The zipper inserted without puckers or wrinkles as a result
  • Add definition to a detail or an edge. This includes collars, cuffs and in many, many instances, hems - at the bottom of a sleeve for instance, or to add structure to the bottom of a straight skirt, or in other cases where the fabric is soft and might pleat a bit when it is turned up, to add uniform softness to the turn of the hem. In this case you would add a soft interfacing, either a weft insertion (a kind of somewhat fuzzy fusible often used in tailoring) or even a strip of bias cut flannel inserted into the hem allowance - an example of a hem that could have benefitted from that treatment is here:
Here is how that hem could have been interfaced, again with a fusible knit to even it out but not to change the hand of the fabric, cut crosswise to do that:


To recap, you are smart. 

Look at your fabric and your pattern, experiment with samples and start adding in non-prescrbed interfacing wherever you feel it might be helpful. 

Don't be afraid to use more than one interfacing in a garment either. 

I often use something crisp in a collar, something lighter in the front facings where I want support but not stiffness, and something lighter still in the hem areas. 

When tailoring of course it is routine to interface entire front pieces, the cap area of sleeves and the upper back from the bottom of the armhole, over the shoulder blades and scooped up a bit for movement along the spine.

Thrift store snooping of old tailored jackets is most educational too. Please go to the brilliant sewing lawyer for an example of how interfacing is used in tailoring and done well.