Choosing the Right Interfacing for Your Project

When I first started to learn to sew with interfacing, I just looked for “fusible” and grabbed the first one I saw, thinking they were all basically the same aside form fusible/non-fusible differences. However, there are several (and I mean several) different types of interfacing for different projects and fabrics.

Now that you’ve learned how to attach fusible and non-fusible interfacing, how exactly do you choose the interfacing you need?

Choosing Interfacing Based on Fusibility:

So you know the basic differences between fusible interfacing and non-fusible interfacing, but you want to know when to use one over the other. As a general rule, fusible is better for beginners. Non-fusible (sew-in) interfacing can add bulk to a project that may be difficult for a beginner to handle. Attaching fusible interfacing is also a great way to practice your pressing! It uses less thread and is ( at least I think) a little less time-consuming.

However, sew-in interfacing looks more natural than fusible. Also, if your fabric cannot be pressed you obviously cannot attach a fusible interfacing to it. Here is a handy guide to fabrics that you generally should not hit with an iron or fusible interfacing.

Choosing Interfacing Based on Composition:

There are three basic classifications of interfacing based on composition: woven, non-woven, and knit. The differences are pretty easy to remember!

Knit interfacing is generally used for very stretchy knit fabrics, like jersey, because the interfacing can stretch with the fabric. Using a woven interfacing on a very stretchy fabric will inhibit its movement.

Woven interfacing should be used on very fine fabrics like silk. Woven interfacing has a grainline just like a woven fabric, so you have to cut the interfacing to match the grainline of your fabric, which helps the garment or craft stay true to its shape but can be a little challenging and takes up more of your material. Don’t use woven unless you absolutely need it!

Non-woven interfacing is a nice all-purpose interfacing for most projects, unless you’re using a very fine or very stretchy fabric. It does not have a grainline, so you can cut it in any direction, which makes it a more economical choice. As a beginner, this is what you should choose pretty much every time you have to buy interfacing.

Choosing Interfacing Based on Weight:

Finally, you have to consider the weight of your fabric and how it will be used when choosing interfacing. Aside from some specialty types of interfacing, interfacing is basically classified into a few groups based on weight:

  • Featherweight interfacing – Also called “sheer.” Use featherweight interfacing for very, very light fabrics.
  • Lightweight interfacing – The go-to for most garments.
  • Medium-weight interfacing – I would recommend medium-weight interfacing for crafts that you need to hold some shape but don’t want to be too stiff, like tote bags.
  • Heavyweight interfacing – This is best for most home decor, and when you need a project to hold a rigid shape.

In general, you should simply match the weight of your interfacing to the weight of your fabric. I’ve also heard that when in doubt between two types of interfacing, go with the lighter weight to play it safe. An interfacing that’s too heavy for your fabric will give it a strange appearance when finished.

If all of this seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry! You’ll get the hang of it soon. Plus, several fabric stores actually have an interfacing guide next to their rack of interfacing bolts to help you choose the right one for your project.

Happy sewing!
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Sewing with Elastic: Elastic Casing

Hello sewists! Sorry for the hold up in posts – lent my camera to a friend for the weekend and just got it back. But now it’s time to get back to business by learning to use a new notion in your projects: sewing with elastic.

Sewing with elastic is a great skill to learn, and learning how to sew with elastic can be the first step in moving from beginner projects to more personalized crafts and garments. As mentioned in this earlier post, there are two ways to add elastic to your project. You can either insert it into a casing or sew it directly to your fabric.

In this post, we’ll cover the easier of the two: sewing an elastic casing.

I’m going to demonstrate by making a small bag with an elastic opening.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

The first thing I did was to measure out a rectangular shape – about 14″ x 6 1/2″. That way my bag would be roughly 6″ x 6″ when completed. I only cut one piece of fabric to fold in half to use as the bag, but you can also cut two identical pieces to stitch together. The folded version is just easier!

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Here is my cut out piece of fabric that will become a small bag! Next it’s time to fold it in half as I mentioned before.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your StuffA bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

If you’re using a fabric with a right side and a wrong side, fold right sides together. The fabric I’m using does not have a district wrong side, so it’s a little hard to tell in these pictures. But when you do this fold, the wrong side should be on the outside.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Press the fold in place so that all raw edges are even, including the sides and the opening. The fold will be the bottom of the bag. Next we will stitch the side seams.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

The side seams are the raw edges perpendicular to the fold. Stitch, press, and trim the sides.

Now it’s time to look at your elastic. What is the width? Mine for this project is 1/2 inch. The width of your casing should be about 1/4 inch wider than your elastic band, so I’m going to do a casing that is 3/4 inches.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your StuffA bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

At the opening of your bag with wrong side out, measure the width of your elastic casing and press it down all around the bag.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Here is the pressed elastic casing. Remember, at this point your bag should be wrong side out.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Place two marks along the edge of your casing, approximately 2 inches apart. This will be the opening where you insert your elastic.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your StuffA bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next, stitch your casing shut starting at one mark all the way around to the second mark, but leaving the 2 inch opening unstitched.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Attach a safety pin to one end of your elastic. Don’t attach it right to the end because it might get pulled off!

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your StuffA bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Push the elastic through the casing safety pin first, moving the fabric over the safety pin. Make sure your elastic does not get twisted in this process! When your safety pin has made it all the way around the bag, overlap the ends of your elastic. I’m making my elastic band a little shorter than the circumference of the bag so that the casing will have some bunch to it when finished.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your StuffA bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Stitch the ends of your elastic together multiple times, backstitching several times. Trim the excess ends and push the elastic band fully into the casing.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

Sew the 2 inch opening shut, with your elastic band fully enclosed in the casing.

A bag with an elastic casing is an easy craft for a beginner learning how to sew elastic, a sewing notion - Sew Me Your Stuff

And voila! You now have a bag with an elastic opening! This skill will come in handy for many projects, more than just simple bags!

Happy sewing!

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How to Attach Non-Fusible Interfacing

Hello sewists! I’ve covered the usefulness of interfacing in this post, and earlier I shared a post about how to attach fusible interfacing, which you can view here.

However, not all interfacing is fusible. Some forms of interfacing are non-fusible and cannot be attached just using steam and heat.

Fusible interfacing is a really great tool for giving shape to your projects and doesn’t require being stitched onto fabric. Non-fusible interfacing is sometimes called “sew-in” interfacing because it doesn’t have an adhesive side like fusible interfacing does and has to be attached by being sewn to the fabric.

The process of attaching non-fusible interfacing differs a little bit from attaching fusible interfacing, so here’s a guide to using non-fusible interfacing to give a project some shape.

First, you’ll want to cut out your pattern pieces. I’m demonstrating on a Christmas stocking, and I’m attaching interfacing to the lining so that it holds the stocking shape.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Notice that I cut out the interfacing to be the exact same size as the fabric piece. When cutting out fusible interfacing you also cut it to be the same size at first. However, non-fusible is different in that you don’t trim the edges before attaching.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Pin the interfacing to the fabric, matching the raw edges.

Tip: Notice that my pins are not right along the raw edge like you normally do when pinning together two pieces of fabric. I also used as few pins as possible. This is because the interfacing is very thick and can get distorted easily with the pins. I removed the pins as I stitched to keep the edges as even as possible.

Before you stitch, you should have decided how wide your seam allowance will be. When you stitch the interfacing onto the fabric, you’ll want to use a slightly shorter seam allowance so that the interfacing will definitely be stitched into your seam.

For example, I typically use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. So for this piece of fabric, I’ll be using a 3/8 inch seam allowance when attaching my interfacing.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Stitch the interfacing onto the fabric as a normal straight stitch.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

After you stitch the interfacing onto the fabric, trim the interfacing very close to the stitch to reduce bulk in your seams. This is why you have to use a shorter seam allowance rather than one that is the same length that you normally use. After you trim your interfacing, you can still be sure that it will be in your line of stitching and give your fabric a smooth look.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your StuffLearning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now your interfacing is attached directly to the fabric. Remember that non-fusible interfacing is different from fusible in that when attaching fusible, you trim the edges before you attach. As you can see with the non-fusible interfacing, you trim  after you attach.

Next I repeated this process on the matching piece of fabric and stitched the two together to form the lining of the stocking. When I stitch the seam, notice that the seam stitch is slightly deeper than the stitch used to attach the interfacing.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

The stitch closer to the raw edge is the stitch used to attach the interfacing, and the deeper stitch is the seam.

All in all, non-fusible interfacing is no more difficult to attach than fusible. I tend to prefer fusible because you don’t have to use as much thread and it sticks directly to the fabric. When stitching my non-fusible interfacing, I had trouble with the fabric and interfacing becoming separated and throwing off my stitches which isn’t a problem I have with fusible.

Remember to use the interfacing guide at your fabric store if possible to pick the right interfacing for your project!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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September/October 2012 Summary

Hello sewists! It’s November, which means it’s time to put the shorts away and stay warm inside while you get started on some Christmas crafts! If you’ve fallen behind on Sew Me Your Stuff posts, here’s a recap of what’s been covered the last couple of months.

Need to go back further? Past recaps:

Sewing Patterns:

Sewing Machine Help:

Notions and other Tools:

A Bag’s Life:

Remember, if you ever would like to see a topic covered by Sew Me Your Stuff, just submit it here!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Helpful Link: Sewing Patterns are Your Friend

I came across this blog post on Pinterest and thought it was absolutely great. I have covered how to use sewing patterns in a few past posts: Choosing a sewing pattern, A Bag’s Life parts 1 2 & 3, and this video on reading patterns.

I loved this blog post though and really wanted to share it. If you’re ever in a jam, it’s a helpful guide to reading all those numbers on the back of the sewing pattern.

Click the image to read: Tales of a Trophy Wife: Sewing 101: Patterns are your Friends

Learning how to use sewing patterns is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

How to Attach Fusible Interfacing

It’s time to take a little break from the sewing machine and talk about fusible interfacing. It is a very handy tool that is really worth your time to learn how to use properly!

I first mentioned fusible interfacing in this post about important notions and tools you’ll need to know as you expand into new crafts and projects.

Interfacing is used to stiffen fabric so that your finished project will hold a certain shape. It’s usually used in collars and buttonholes but has many applications. Interfacing can be fusible or nonfusible. Fusible interfacing can be attached to fabric using heat, but nonfusible must be stitched to the fabric.

This post will help you learn to apply fusible interfacing using your iron. Remember, you can click any of the pictures to enlarge for clarity.

Things you’ll need:

  • The piece of fabric on which you need to apply the interfacing
  • A piece of fusible interfacing cut slightly smaller than your piece of fabric, typically about 1/4 inch from the cut edge
  • Your iron on a medium/high setting
  • A pressing cloth
  • Some water, in a spray bottle if possible

Having the right equipment is important when learning how to attach fusible interfacing if you are a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Here I have set up everything that I need. I’m only attaching a small piece of fusible interfacing to fabric. Notice that the interfacing piece is slightly smaller than my fabric piece. When you trace a sewing pattern, generally you will trace the same size interfacing pieces as fabric pieces. However, before you attach the fusible interfacing, you’ll want to trim it to be about 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric to avoid bulk.

Having the right equipment is important when learning how to attach fusible interfacing if you are a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Place your interfacing right side down on the wrong side of your fabric. In other words, place the fabric on your ironing board wrong side up. Then place your interfacing on top of the fabric right side down. The right side of the interfacing is the sticky side with raised bumps. The wrong side, which is smoother and not sticky, should be face up.

Then place your pressing cloth on top of both pieces. Your pressing cloth should be a thin piece of cotton fabric.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Next, spray the pressing cloth with water until it is damp. Dampen the entire area covering the fabric and the interfacing. If you do not have a spray bottle, you can wet your cloth in the sink, but a spray bottle will save you time. You don’t want your fabric to be soaking wet, and a spray bottle will help you aim right for the area that will be over the interfacing and fabric.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

While you set up your fabric, interfacing, and pressing cloth, you should allow your iron to heat to a medium/high setting. Once your cloth is properly damp, press your iron firmly onto a section of the fabric and interfacing for 10-15 seconds.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now there’s an iron-shaped dry spot right exactly I was pressing my iron!  If you have your cloth at optimal dampness and your iron at optimal heat, the pressing cloth should be dry when you lift your iron. Repeat this until you have pressed your iron onto every section of the fabric and interfacing.

Attaching fusible interfacing properly is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

And voila! Now the interfacing sticks directly to the fabric even as I bend it, fold it, and wave it around.

There are varying weights of interfacing to choose from based on the weight of your fabric and your desired stiffness. When you go to the fabric store, they may have a guide handy next to their interfacing bolts to help you choose the right weight for your project.

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Machine Stitches to Know

Hello sewists! I hope you’re getting comfortable pushing fabric through your sewing machine and are ready to get more creative with your stitches, because now it’s time to look at the different stitches your machine can do and when to use them. There are approximately billions of different stitches you can do (estimation rounded up), but here are some of the basic stitches that will come in handy on your machine.

Straight stitch – I hope you’ve already been using this stitch by now as it is the most basic, simple stitch that a machine can do. It can hold together most basic seams and is totally sufficient for a beginner sewist working on early projects and crafts. If you choose not to finish your raw edges and seams, an entire project can be completed using only a straight stitch.

Straight stitches are also used for embellishments like topstitching. Topstitching is simply a straight stitch done on the right side of the fabric that is visible on the completed project. Usually, topstitching will be used to secure a seam allowance in a certain direction, but it can also be used purely for decoration. As covered in this post, you should use a longer stitch length for topstitching.

If your pattern calls for staystitching, this is simply a straight stitch done in the seam allowance that forces a pattern piece to hold its shape during construction. This is often used when a pattern piece cut in one direction will be attached to a piece that was cut in another direction. Use a normal stitch length if you need to staystitch a piece.

If you need to gather some fabric, simply stitch a straight stitch with a long stitch length and pull the ends to cause the fabric to bunch. For an illustration, see this post on stitch length.

Zigzag stitch – A zigzag stitch is exactly what it sounds like, a stitch that directs the thread in zigzag lines rather than straight lines. The primary purpose of a zigzag stitch when stitching a seam is to provide the fabric with more stretch than a straight stitch will allow. Remember these stitches from last week’s stitch length post?

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for a beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Well here is the same fabric, stitched this time with a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffKnowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for a beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Notice that the fabric not only does not pucker as it did with the straight stitch, but it is much more free to stretch.

Zigzag stitches are also used in finishing edges after stitching and pressing a seam. To achieve this, simply stitch a zigzag stitch right on the edge of a seam allowance.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use when is important for any beginner learning how to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Zigzag stitches are also used to sew the edges of buttonholes. If your sewing machine is equipped for buttonholes, you simply sew a zigzag stitch with an extremely short stitch length to create the buttonhole edges. Be on the lookout for a future tutorial on buttonholes!

Finally, you’ll want to use a zigzag stitch when attaching elastic directly to fabric. Using a zigzag will allow the elastic to stretch and will ensure that the entire elastic strip is attached if you adjust the width or your stitch to cover the entire band.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Blind hem stitch – This is actually a stitch I typically skip and do by hand, but it can come in very handy if you master it. If you look at a dress skirt or dress pants very closely, you can find a faint line of stitches on the outside of the garment where the hem has been attached. This was achieved using a blind hem stitch. The process of performing this stitch is slightly more complicated than a straight stitch or zigzag stitch, so I will have to write a full post on it in the near future.

Knowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffKnowing what basic sewing machine stitches to use is important for any beginner learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Here is a picture of a blind hem stitch in progress and a completed blind hem stitch.

When I say that I do this by hand, I mean I use the stitch demonstrated in this post.

These three stitches combined are truly all you’ll need as a beginner to complete a plethora of different crafts and projects. Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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