Over the last seven years numerous questions have come up in the Beginner Sewing group on Facebook about the different types of interfacing and batting.  Because they are often referenced together, I am going to do a post together on them so you can see the difference and have a better understanding of which is which and what is used for what.  Most patterns and tutorials will be specific in letting you know what they suggest using for the project you are working on.  However, when you are winging it and doing your own, this interfacing vs. batting breakdown might be helpful in having a better understanding which one you should use, should you go rogue!

Let’s start with interfacing, which is the fabric placed between a garment and facing to provide more structure and support.  It comes in various thicknesses and can be fusible (meaning it can bond to the fabric when heat is applied), or non-fusible (which means it will need to be sewn to the fabric to stay in place).

Fusible Interfacing

These can be broken down into four types:

Lightweight
  • Woven – This is the most common choice when working with a woven fabric. It is the ideal choice for sewing more sturdy projects such as baskets and bags, or if your garments need more structure.
  • Lightweight Woven – This interfacing is almost sheer and is a little more difficult to cut out due to its lightweight. It is most suitable paired with light and medium-weight fabrics.
Knitted
  • Knitted – This is the type of interfacing you will want to choose when you are working with a fabric that has a little stretch to it.  Most used with knit fabrics! It has some stretch to it, which pairs nicely with the stretch of your knit fabric. Easy to remember: knit interfacing for knit fabrics. And important to remember: the stretch needs to align with the stretch of the fabric – won’t do much good if they are going in opposite directions!
Non-woven interfacing
  • Non-Woven – come in a variety of weights.  You will want to choose one that feels lighter than your fabric.  If it does not provide enough support, you can always double up the interfacing layer for more. This is the type of interfacing that is used in collars and cuffs and other garment sewing.
How to Apply:
  • Place your fabric on your pressing surface with the wrong side (back side) facing up.
  • Lay your interfacing with the “sticky” side down on your fabric back.  The adhesive side will have a little bit of a gritty texture to it, while the other will be smoother to the touch.
  • Cover the section you are pressing with a cloth (or a scrap piece of cotton fabric works just fine too), spray the cloth with a mist of water.
  • Steam iron the surface.
  • Hole the iron in place for approximately 10 seconds before moving on to the next section.
  • Carefully check to see if the interfacing is fused.  If it has not, repeat the steaming process.

Once you have your fusible interfacing situated, you can then place your pattern on the fabric and begin cutting out your pieces.

Non-Fusible Interfacing

These can be broken down into five types:

  • Alpaca – A tailorings canvas made from wool and alpaca.  This is ideal to use on tough fabrics like velvet due to the ability of the alpaca being able to be steamed into a shape.
  • Voile and Batiste – A light and semi-sheer, 100 percent cotton fabric. This is a nice choice for silk and cotton and can be used in heirloom sewing and smocking. Batiste is is very similar, yet a little more firm in nature, however it is used the same way as voile.
  • Muslin – This is the ideal interfacing choice for lighter dresses and special occasion wear.
  • Organza – This interfacing gives support and structure to more sheer fabrics.
  • Non-Woven Sew-In Interfacing – This is a good choice for crafting projects or small areas of garments such as cuffs and collars.  However, it is preferred to use the fusible version when it is available for garments.
How to Apply:
  • Lay your fabric wrong side up and place the interfacing on top of it, being sure to align the cut edges.
  • Pin your fabric and interfacing together.
  • Use a basting stitch, and baste the interfacing to the fabric.

As you can see there is a fusible and non-fusible option for each fabric and structure (with the exception of using fabrics that cannot be ironed!). So how do you know which to choose? Typically, this is just a matter of personal preference. But as a beginner, I would recommend using a fusible interfacing when available, it is a little bit easier to sew once your layers are “glued” together for you.   But sometimes the non-fusible type will be the preferred, or even the only option.  

Interfacings can range from lightweight through mid- and heavy-weight. Generally, you want your interfacing slightly lighter than the fabric you are using. If you’re mostly working on beginner sewing projects, chances are you’ll simply get away by using one type: fusible fleece.  This feels like felt, with one adhesive side, and it gives your project some nice body. Moving right along…

Batting

Batting is the middle layer used between quilts for extra warmth. But! It can be used in place of interfacing.  Think of a thicker bag, a couch pillow with dimension, perhaps a basket, or even an autumn jacket.  Each are good examples of when betting might be a preference. 

Insulating batting is also a common batting used by beginners to make things such as pot holders, oven mitts, and ironing board covers. If you are making a project that will need to withstand a little heat, look for insulating thermal batting/lining/wadding – comes in variety of names depending on where you are purchasing it.

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Joan Mantini

About Joan Mantini

After several years of being the Facebook page owner at Beginner Sewing, I noticed there was a desperate need to have a single go-to spot for members to be able to find answers to their common questions, get some useful tips & tricks, as well as find reputable places to purchase sewing products online. Taking my role as a trade publication editor by day, and combining it with my knowledge of frequently requested beginner sewing advice, I created www.beginner-sewing.com. An outlet that gives new sewists a free digital magazine geared for entry level sewing as an extra bonus!

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