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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Using the Best Interfacing or Stabilizer for the Job

If you have ever gone shopping for interfacing or stabilizer, you know that there are a whirlwind of options!  It can be daunting to know which one(s) you need to buy if you don't know exactly what you're looking for!  But shopping for these products is not quite as complex as it seems and with a little info today I'm sure we can make your experience a lot better! I actually enjoy shopping for it now that I know what I'm looking for. 

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First let's talk about the difference between interfacing and stabilizer. For the most part, interfacing is ironed and/or sewn into the garment permanently to give it stability and structure (such as around buttonholes and collars). Stabilizers, on the other hand, are usually used temporarily to give structure underneath (such as with embroidering designs) and then after sewing they are torn out or removed by washing.  There are some exceptions but that is generally the case. The best way to know whether you want interfacing or stabilizer is to buy what the pattern calls for!  If it tells you to buy interfacing, then you should buy interfacing.  If it tells you to buy stabilizer then you should buy stabilizer.  You *can* substitute them for each other but you won't get the same results. 

Many of our CKC patterns call for "interfacing" without specifying which type. That is because it is often up to you! If your child likes a stiffer collar, you can use a heavier interfacing. If they like a softer collar, you can use a lighter interfacing. For me, it just depends on how much structure I want the interfacing to add.  I like to stock up on the packages above because they are easy to find (Walmart, etc.) and the packages are clearly marked with their type, weight, and best uses. This brand suggests the following:

Light: For Dresses and Blouses
Medium: For shirts, collars, and button holes
Heavy: For Jackets & Waistbands

That's pretty straight-forward info!  

If you want to buy larger sheets though, you can by interfacing and stabilizer by-the-yard at most fabric stores. It generally costs less that way too.  I do strongly recommend that you know what you're looking for before you get to the store! See if the pattern specifies exactly what you need and if it doesn't, have an idea of what you want before you go.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it need to be fusible on one side, both sides, or neither?
  • Do I want it to be light, medium, or heavy? 
  • Does it need to be white or black?
  • Are there any other special features it needs to have?

You want to at least jot down the answers for when you get to the store, but I also like to use them to look up the exact number online before I go!  Here are some of the kinds I use most often, straight from Pellon's website:

72F Peltex Two-Sided Fusible Extra Firm Stabilizer: I use this for a lot of craft projects such as our free Reversible Fabric Crown, free Tablet Cover, and the brim on Christopher's Newsboy Cap. (They all say it right in the pattern.)  Available for purchase here.

 987F Fusible Fleece: This is fusible on one side (not both) and adds softness and a little bulk and stability to many of our free patterns on the blog, such as the Reversible Easter Basket. It can come in higher lofts too so don't be afraid to browse the website (or the store) for the thickness you want. Available for purchase here.

931TD Fusible Midweight: This is just a standard fusible medium-weight interfacing for collars etc, such as the one that I mentioned farther up that I buy in the small packages. Available for purchase here.

360 E-Z Stitch Stabilizer: I use tear-away stabilizer when adding decorative stitching or applique to knit fabrics such as the stripe on Michael's muscle tee. It helps get the stitching on nicely without puckers and then it tears right off like magic. Available for purchase here.

Those are just a few options, but they are the ones I use most often. Don't be afraid to use the search box on Pellon's website -- that's what I do!  (If you don't want to look it up and you're feeling adventurous you can ask for help in-store or browse the tags once you get there, but you could be there for awhile.)

 One last thing!  The very first time I went to buy interfacing by-the-yard I was afraid that I wouldn't remember what kind I bought or how to use it.  But if you look at the photo above, there is a label just like it which is folded up in the full length of the bolt, so every cut you get will provide you with a label to store with your interfacing.  I like to pin my label on before rolling up so I don't take the chance of getting them mixed up! 

So there you go!  That is really all you need to know about buying interfacing and stabilizer! Now that you're a little more familiar with the types, you can be excited (not scared) to go shopping for it and try out all kinds of new projects!  

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this info. It will be most helpful for my next project.

  2. Thank you so much for this information! Susie

  3. Thank you, I've been looking for this information for a long time.

  4. Thank you, I've been looking for this information for a long time.

  5. Thank you. I have never understood the different types of interfacing and when to use what.

  6. What about wovens versus non wovens?

  7. Thank you now I understand the differences, this will help me with my designs of cloaks and dresses.

  8. Making a memory quilt for a friend from her husbands shirts. Some are cotton but many are a soft knit fabric. Would like to put something with the knit to firm it up. Would like to iron on and leave sewn in. Any suggestions? Your info above was appreciated.

  9. Two questions please. 1). I was given a lot of white ??stabilizer?? How do I determine what I have and what it should be used for. This came from a widower whose wife sewed and crafted.
    2). I am a sewing newbie and I have purchased an embroidery machine. I'm interested in applique. Do I need fusible on both sides stabilizer for the various pieces to be appliqued?

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