Kerry O'Brine Womens Wear

Behind the seams

Unmasking Interfacing

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Interfacing can be a mystery. Why is it needed? what is the best fabric to use? etc…..

Interfacing is a fabric used inside (the wrong side) of the garment. It is placed between the facing and the main garment fabric. You use it to stabilize your main fabric and support or stiffen in particular areas.

Key areas that often require stablilsing or strengthening for durability are collars, cuffs, facings, pocket tops and fastening areas.

In some ways, because there aren’t any ‘rules’, it can make it tricky to know where to start.

  • Take into considoration the design and overall effect you want to achieve.
  • Think about the weight of your main fabric.
  • Think about where you might want to create structure and shape.

You then need to match your design requirements with the nature of the fabrics. For instance a stiff, crisp and light Organza fabric will work well in a hem, as will a cotton organdie or muslin, but both give a very different effect to your hem.

A hair canvas (made with horses hair) is a heavy weight canvas that is mainly used in tailoring jackets. You will need to use the horse hair around the body in a tailored jacket. The horse hair has an incredible strength and bounce and perhaps you could cut it the other way round to create great curves in your sculptural clothing. For unusual interfacing materials try MacCulloch and Wallis (london). The English Couture Company also stock online some useful interfacings.

A collar with a linen canvas (finished with a glue) can create a hard and stiff collar.

A couture jacket with a full interfacing gives the jacket a very structured look and keeps out the wrinkles. The interfacing is treated as one with the main fabric. Hard tailoring like this is more traditional than the women’s soft tailoring you see these days (the garment’s lines are softer and rounder).

Traditionally men’s jackets are interfaced with canvas in the front and hem area.

Iron-on interfacing is often used these days. One side is coated in a glue which you place on the wrong side of the fabric. Then press with your iron to fix the interfacing onto your fabric. Iron-on interfacing comes in a range of weights, from fine to heavy. You can also choose between woven and non-woven.

A heavyweight sew-in interfacing can be bulky so you are better off trimming the seam allowances and then hand stitching the interfacing on.

Lightweight sew in interfacing can work best attached directly onto the seam allowances of the main fabric. It is especially effective in key areas such as a collar.

Interfacing requires experimentation when you are working with a new design and a new main fabric. So take the time out to do some sampling because you’ll get the best results! As a consumer you shouldn’t be aware of the interfacing in a piece of clothing because the interfacing should work with the garment and not against it.


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