June 25, 2012

2-in-1 Sew-Along: Interfacings

Selecting Interfacing
I decided to do a post on interfacings all by itself. The topic of interfacings is something I've found can be mystifying to sewing enthusiasts. There's the stack of non-woven interfacings at your local big box store that are called "Interfacing" and then there's this other world that only certain people know of where they use these woven varieties or gasp! silk organza! I'll admit, there are many interfacings out there and there are even fabrics out there that can be used as interfacings and the whole idea is bewildering. You just had to pick a fabric out for a dress and now you have to pair up an interfacing to it? Crazy!

Let's define interfacings first. Interfacings simply add stability and structure to a garment in strategic spots. Think of some of those spots for a minute:
  • Button plackets - so buttons don't rip off and buttonholes are stabilized and so a shirt front is nice and smooth 
  • Collars - to help them have structure, perkiness and crispness
  • Cuffs - these also usually have a button or buttonhole and for structure and crispness
  • Hems (sometimes) - for weight, structure and that "razor edge"
So when you think interfacings, you're after a certain look. This is where some personal preference can come into play. Some people don't want a really crisp collar and some do. So you need to have in mind what you prefer for a certain garment type. 

In Simplicity 1880, we need to think about interfacing for the following areas:
  • The shirt dress collar
  • The shirt dress button placket
  • The wrap dress facings
Not bad really! What kinds should you look for? Well, I would stay away from the non-woven varieties at the local big box, but if that is what you can find, then that is what you can find. But you can also use something like muslin or even a polyester organza. I'm going to show you how to attach a clean finished interfacing so it doesn't matter if the interfacing you choose is fusible or not. The idea is to pair the right interfacing with the fabric consistency. For something that is slippery and silky (like the cold rayon I'm using for my wrap) you'll want to consider something similar, but just a little more stable. Muslin or organza will do the trick in this instance and I've settled on muslin. I've washed it to soften it up a touch and I have it in the stash and it will work great. With the shirt dress I've decided to go with fusible knit tricot. I really love these kind of interfacings because I have found them to be the most versatile. My favorite varieties are from Fashion Sewing Supply. Both of these interfacings don't alter the hand like a heavy weight interfacing would. Imagine a cotton canvas as an interfacing for the cold rayon dress - yeah, that would be wrong. 

Attaching Interfacing for a clean edge finish
Once you've cut out your dress from your fashion fabric and you've cut out corresponding interfacing pieces for the facings and collar, here's a tip:

Let's look at the facings for the shirt dress and wrap dress. Note that the shirt dress facing is attached to the front bodice. I'm going to walk you step by step through this and then you can adapt this to your own sewing for different patterns if you like it. 

For the wrap dress you have two front facings and back neck facing. For the shirt dress, it is constructed in such a way in the instructions so that you eliminate the back facing. I'm going to show you another way. I'll be using the back neck facing from the wrap for the shirt dress too. And this is easily done because they fit together.

Sew the facings for each version together at the shoulders (right sides together). Press these seams open. Sew the interfacings, right sides together for each version too. If you're using a sew-in interfacing, press those seams open. For fusibles, skip that pressing part.

With right sides together, stitch the interfacing to the facings at 5/8" (1.27 cm). The right side of fusible interfacing is the non-fusible side. Now, understitch the seam allowances to the interfacing side.

Adhere the interfacing to the wrong side of the facings. If you're using a sew-in interfacing, press the facing toward the garment and then baste the raw edges together. 

Obviously, you won't do this for the collar since the interfacing is sandwiched between two fashion fabric pieces. This makes for a very neat and professional finish for your insides and is my favorite way to attach interfacing to facings. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it too.

For more 2-in-1 Sew-Along posts, click here!



  1. I'm not sewing along (yet)...but am really enjoying your tips so far! I have a shirt dress in my future plans so I'm excited to see how you tackle this collar.

  2. I'm still loving this sew-a-long! Although I'm not taking part, I am taking in every bit of it!

    Great tip about the undercollar. It definitely works! I've done it before.

  3. Can't wait to see more! I read and reread those collar instructions and am still confused (and I've inserted a few collars before).

  4. Are you referring to the pattern instructions or my instructions? Let me know if I need to clarify anything from above! Thanks Emily!

  5. Thanks so much for this! I sat down yesterday with a cup of tea and a bit of cake and re-read the pattern instructions over and over again. Eventually I undestood what it wanted me to do but not quite how. I look forward to trying your method!

  6. What excellent techniques! I love reading blogs with such proper ways of doing things. I'm not doing the shirtwaist verizon this time, but I'm pinning your instructions for buttonholes for future reference. Your suggestions for turn of cloth are in the collar so much clearer than others I've read.

  7. the pattern instructions!! I'm sure yours will be much better!!!

  8. Hi Sunni, thanks for these excellent tips. I'm getting quite excited now about making the dress. I'm considering adding piping to the collar etc on the dress front - what do you think?
    Will it be too tricky on the collar?
    I just think my fabric is rather 'busy' and it will help create a bit of definition around the structure of the dress. Otherwise I might look like potpurri and that's so last century.

  9. Ohhhhhhh! Piping to the collar/dress front! What a BRILLIANT idea! Shouldn't really be hard at all. I think piping sounds absolutely wonderful!

  10. [...] This is the first ever muslin I made and first ever collar I attempted … Let’s just say I am excited to learn more about Sunni’s alternative Collar. [...]

  11. [...] ~ Cut one piece of interfacing for your under collar piece (we traced off this piece via this tutorial) and the back facing (#11). Piece #3 is the interfacing for the buttonhole/front facing, so [...]

  12. [...] and the undercollar – also remember that these last two pieces I added to the inventory from this post. So attaching interfacing is no big deal right? Well, if it is a big deal to you, have a gander at [...]

  13. Sunni,
    I have read through both sets of instructions several times and still seem to be lost with the collar. It is specifically step 8. Am I stitching on the collar or the bodice? Which side is my facing side, the one with or without interfacing? And I don't understand how I would understitch the collar if it hasn't been turned yet. Please help!

  14. Hi Tommie! I will not be following the instructions set forth by the pattern for how to attach the collar, so I'll try to answer your question the best I can here. Traditionally when a sewing pattern has you set in a collar you'll understitch the under collar or the collar piece that's on the bottom. Understitching helps a seamline favor one side and in this situation you want the seamline to favor the under collar so that the seamline isn't flipping out in the open. It's a tailoring type of technique. I'll be covering that more in depth next week when I go over the collar construction. This is what step 8 is talking about, but I do believe that there is a typo because it says facing when really it should say under collar. Make sense? In my directions you'll be attaching the interfacing to the under collar portion and the upper collar portion is left without interfacing. And yes, you'll turn the collar first and then understitch. Step 8 is very confusing! I'll clarify more about the technique I'll use to insert the collar next week - hopefully you can wait that long? I'll be doing it next Wednesday!

  15. Sunni, thanks so much! That definitely makes a lot more sense. I was still working on my muslin, so I will be fine to wait until next Wednesday for my real dress. You have totally cleared up so much and the collar when on rather easily. Thanks!

  16. So... from my fabric I cut one upper collar and one under collar piece and from the interfacing I should cut 1 piece from the under collar piece?

  17. [...] Let’s go over what pieces are involved in attaching collar here first. There’s the bodice front (piece #1, cut 2 of fabric), the back facing (#11, cut 1 of fabric, cut 1 of interfacing), the upper collar (#4, cut 1 of fabric) and the under collar (cut 1 of fabric, cut 1 of interfacing), which is a piece we added from this post here. [...]

  18. [...] Sunni’s instructions were excellent and if it was not for the slightly wonky upper collar I think it would have turned out perfectly. Now I’m desperately waiting for the next step. Yes I could race along and finish it myself but so far I have learnt lots of new things and I’m determined to exercise some degree of self-control… [...]


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