Sometimes fabric needs a little extra help to lay the way we want it to or to get that perfect seam without any pulling or stretching.
The great thing about fabric is how soft and stretchy it often is, but this can also be a downfall when it comes to actually working with and constructing fabric.
Luckily, there are tools out there to help sewists when working with particularly delicate or flexible fabric. Two of the most common support fabrics that can be used are stabilizer and interfacing.
So, stabilizer vs interfacing: what’s the difference? Stabilizer is used as a temporary support. It’s typically more rigid and is removed after sewing. Interfacing is a permanent support layer. It’s sewn onto the garment as part of the structure on the wrong side of the fabric to give ongoing support in areas that need it, like collars or cuffs.
Stabilizers and interfacing come in different forms, such as iron on (also known as fusible), sew-in, water soluble, tear away, and cut away. They also come in different weights to be used depending on the weight of the fabric.
In this article, we’ll review the key differences between stabilizer and interfacing so you can choose the right one for your next project.
What Is Stabilizer?
Stabilizer is a type of fabric support that is added to fabric to prevent it from stretching, bunching, and pulling while stitching.
Stabilizers are predominantly used in embroidery, though they can also be used for any fabric and stitching purposes if the fabric needs it.
When used in embroidery, a small section is added to the area of the fabric that’s going to be embroidered. It’s generally ironed on and has easy removal techniques like dissolving in water or tearing away.
It can be used for embroidering designs like flowers, or it can be used to make free standing lace (FSL) or embroider on a netted fabric like tulle.
Types Of Stabilizers
There are different types of stabilizer depending on how you want to remove it. The most popular type of stabilizer is water soluble. With this kind of stabilizer, you can iron it on, stitch on your design, then remove it by submerging the fabric in water.
Another common type of stabilizer is tear away. This is another type that is ironed on. However, when done with your stitching, you remove it by tearing it away from your project.
Tear away stabilizer is best used for fabrics that have innate strength on their own. You wouldn’t use tear away stabilizer on tulle, but it’s safe to use on cotton.
Finally, in some cases, you may want a stabilizer that remains on the project. This can happen with an embroidered logo or icon on a shirt that needs the stabilizer to stay on for added support.
For this type of project, you’d need cut away permanent stabilizer. As the name suggests, you apply it to your fabric, then cut away the excess parts that you don’t need.
For more information, check out this video from Sewing Parts Online on YouTube.
What Is Interfacing?
Interfacing is like stabilizer, but it’s meant to stay on the fabric forever. It can either be ironed on or sewn in, but either way, it’s intended to remain on the fabric.
Interfacing is usually applied to the wrong side of the fabric and either sandwiched in between two other layers or left on the wrong side.
It’s used to give more structure and support to certain areas of a garment, such as the collar and cuffs on a dress shirt. It can also be used to give added support to dresses that have a stiffer structure.
Once interfacing is ironed on or sewn into the fabric, it stays there. It provides support while still maintaining a certain level of flexibility for comfort while wearing.
Types Of Interfacing
There are two main types of interfacing: fusible and sew-in.
Fusible interfacing is fused to the fabric by ironing it on. You always have to iron it onto the wrong side of the fabric. Interfacing would never be applied to the right side of the fabric, or the side that people see.
Once it’s ironed on, it stays there forever. It’s not water soluble or designed to be torn away, so you can rest assured that it’s not going anywhere.
Sew-in interfacing is applied to the fabric by sewing it on. You generally want to run enough stitch lines to maintain its structure with the fabric.
Both fusible and sew-in interfacing are usually lightweight and intended for thinner and more lightweight fabrics.
If you have a thicker fabric that needs interfacing, you’ll need to get a heavy weight interfacing. It’s still fusible, so you just iron it on, but it works great for heavier or thicker fabrics like felt.
For more information, check out this video from Professor Pincushion on YouTube.
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