As I moved the interfacing supply back into my sewing room I started to think about interfacing, what I use, what I don’t, and what might need to be changed.
For a long time I always used the same interfacings. Because I had come to like the performance of certain interfacings, and because I could not usually get them locally, I began buying bolts or large pieces to insure that I always had some on hand. To make life simpler I settled on a couple of interfacings that I consistently liked and stuck to them.
The first two interfacings that I used consistently were Armo Weft and Fusi Knit. Armo Weft is used for support in tailored garments, kind of like a fusible hair canvas I guess. I used Fusi Knit for everything else. Probably not very sophisticated but it worked for me.
Gradually I noticed that designers made jackets out of lightweight fabrics like cottons and silks and fused the entire body pieces to give the fabric enough weight to function in the more tailored application of a jacket. Fusi Knit was too firm for this and I eventually found So-Sheer. For years I used So Sheer and eventually, Textured Weft, which came out later. Sometimes people had trouble fusing Textured Weft and I haven’t found that it works well with all fabrics. It certainly maintains the loft of textured fabrics better than So Sheer and it changes the hand of the fabric far less. In time Textured Weft became my primary fusible for underlining, but I still use So Sheer for some things.
As I mentioned above, I can’t get these interfacings locally. Most of them are, or were, sold on 25 yard bolts so I just bought bolts of each so that I would have them on hand. When I get started on a project, nothing kills it faster than having to put it aside waiting for interfacing to arrive. By the time the interfacing would arrive other things would have happened and the sewing project would be abandoned. It seemed excessive in the beginning, but I have had to replace every bolt of my original purchases, some more than once.
These interfacings now live in one of the top drawers of the file cabinets that make up my cutting table.
But my needs or ideas about sewing are in the process of change.
I have two full or almost full bolts of Armo Weft in two colors, probably a lifetime supply at this point. I find that Armo Weft is sometimes too firm for the kind of very light soft shaping that is fashionable in women’s jackets now and I might want to find something different.
Fusi Knit is still useful, but again is too firm for some knits and light fabrics, although so-sheer works well for support in very light knits, and I have been increasingly using it for structural support in knit garments. I might need something in between. Both Fusi Knit and So Sheer change the hand of some fabrics too much, although on others there seems to be little difference. I still adore Textured Weft and am almost out, so you know that will be replaced soon.
What do I do about new styles in interfacings and tailoring of women’s garments? I don’t really want to stock a dozen different interfacings. Life needs to be simple. But I also want to accomplish a particular look.
My discontent started about a year and a half ago, in September 2004. I was making a jacket out of a very nice menswear suiting fabric from Dormeuil. I did need to fuse parts of the front of the jacket, but the fabric had a good bit of body and I was having trouble getting the look I wanted. So Sheer was too stiff. Textured Weft maintained much more of the drape of the fabric but still made it too “thick” and affected the drape just enough that I was not satisfied. I did not know how to proceed, so I put the jacket aside.
I picked that jacket up again a few months later when some of the sewists at Sewing World were involved in a “January Jacket Journey”. I ordered a bunch of samples of interfacings from several places, intending to make samples and compare them and reconsider the entire interfacing question. In the meantime, while I waited for UPS, I looked at the various other odd bits of interfacing I had on hand. There was some red interfacing I got from Sandra Betzina called “Armani Interfacing”, no longer available, which had good drape, but was not as nice as the Textured Weft in this fabric. And I had some interfacing called DEEP FLESH COLORED FUSIBLE INTERFACING from Fabric Collections which I had used for a silk jacket the previous year, finding it to be much softer and with better drape than So Sheer. I had also used this interfacing on a light topper made from a hand-woven wool which was something like a cross between gauze and burlap with a very loose open weave. I ended up using this interfacing on the blue menswear wool as it had drape and suppleness I wanted. The fabric was just like a slightly spongier version of itself with more support. The hand was much more like the original fabric than with the Textured Weft. The jacket turned out to be wonderful. Fabric Collections no longer imports this interfacing however and the little bit I have left cannot be replaced.
When I started moving interfacing into its home in the new sewing room, I began to readdress these questions. I still have those samples, about a yard of each, waiting in a box. I wondered what to do with all of them. I also still had some of that wonderful blue menswear suiting left, the one that gave me interfacing difficulties.
The solution seemed to be that I should make an interfacing catalog. I decided, for consistency, all interfacings should be fused to the same fabric no matter what they were intended for. That way I would have a basis for comparison. Each sample should also be adequately large that I could get some sense of the hand and/or potential drape of the fused fabric. I decided to cut 8” by 10” pieces of the navy wool and fuse them, with each interfacing getting a page in a standard three ring binder. A sample of the same wool, unfused, would be saved for control purposes.
Here are some of the pages with the fabric samples, and me squinching one piece to see how it feels. I am learning there are some interesting interfacings out there and I see several that might be good for light flexible underlinings. I am not sure where I will go with this yet, but there are certainly possibilities and there are a couple of potential new favorites. I certainly think that one of the new ultra-light fusibles will replace so-sheer as my other standard underlining in the near future. Luckily I have pieces of several nice things. I will keep you informed of the changes.
I am also impressed so far with the sample Whisper Weft that I have fused. It seems something like Armo Weft but much lighter, with a much softer hand. This may be what I am looking for to achieve that softer tailoring look. I will definitely be trying this in upcoming projects.
It seems there have been many changes in the world of interfacings and I am looking forward to trying some of these new, at least to me, products. I also think that my new interfacing catalog will prove invaluable when I am looking for something to achieve a desired look. Although interfacing will react differently with each fabric, having the samples gives me a big leg up on the process of narrowing down my choices. I am sure that eventually my catalog will be expanded to have samples on other base fabrics as well. In the end, I think the time spent compiling this book will prove to be time very well spent.