Using Interfacing and Interlining When Making Bags – Sewing Advice

I used to shy away from using interfacing and interlining, mainly due to not really knowing which to use, when and how. My early attempts to use it resulted in the fusible (iron-0n) type not sticking properly or making the fabric go all bubbly and creased looking. So I thought I’d share my knowledge so far on the subject, in case there may be others in the same situation.

Update – I now stock Vilene interfacings at www.susieddesigns.co.uk

There are so many different types of interfacing / interlining (each with it’s own best use and method of attachment) that it can be really confusing. Now that I’ve found ones that I like and can use properly, I’ve found that I can do so much more with the designs of the bags and accessories that I make. They make the fabrics more durable and give a bag shape and body so that it’s not flimsy.

Interfacing is either fusible (iron on, to permanently fix to fabric) or sew-in, where it’s sewn into the seams. Both can be used together, allowing you to make a bag that can stand up on it’s own.

Pleated Handbag with Adjustable Shoulder Strap

Pleated handbag with adjustable shoulder strap, fusible interfacing and interlining in main body, top band panels and shoulder strap.

The interfacing and interlining that I like to use most are:

Vilene F220 – this is a medium weight, fusible interfacing which I love using as it’s so easy to adhere to the fabric and it has a really soft handle, allowing the fabric to still have a lovely drape.

How to Use: You place a piece of fabric reverse side up,  lay the interfacing on top with the fusible side down. Then using a warm iron (wool setting) with no steam, you glide the iron over it so that each area gets about 8 seconds of heat. Leave the fused fabric to cool for a good 30 mins before using, as it’s while it’s cooling down that it permanently sticks. Once ready to use, just treat the fused pieces as one layer of fabric.

Vilene S13 – this is a heavy weight, sew-in interlining which I use sometimes on it’s own and other times along with the fusible interfacing if I want a really durable, substantial bag and especially for the likes of my e-reader / iPad sleeves which require plenty of firmness and padding without being bulky. This interlining is not too thick, probably about 1-2mm thick and really soft and flexible. It adds a slight padded look to the fabric and makes it look and feel substantial. I like it so much as it still allows the fabrics to remain soft feeling, is not bulky and is not stiff like cardboard.

How to Use: Cut the interlining to same shape / size as the fabric pieces, pin to the reverse side of fabric then treat as if one layer so that the interlining is attached within the seams of your project. To avoid bulk at the seam allowances, you may wish to trim the interlining seam allowances back a bit.

I feel that both the above really compliment the look and feel of my bags. It took me a while to find the perfect type to use for what I make and for the fabrics I use – I mainly use medium weight, 100% cotton. Those ones are definitely the leaders in my book and so I will be sticking to them.

iPad Netbook Tablet Sleeve

iPad / Netbook sleeve, fusible interfacing and sew-in interlining used to protect gadgets.

When to Use:

Fusible interfacing is great (and most of the time, pretty essential) for bags as they are handled a lot, need to be durable and it allows you to add shape. I use it mostly on the top band area of my bags as this gets a lot of handling, whenever opened and closed, so adding the interfacing to those panels makes the fabric really long wearing and means that the bag opening isn’t all floppy. You can also add it to the main body front and back panels to help give that area some body, again stopping it being limp. If the bag has a tab closure I use interfacing on that part too, again to make the fabric more substantial and durable. Same goes for the handles, you can enclose a strip within the fabric lengths.

The heavy weight, sew-in interlining can be used for the main body of a bag depending on how much stability you need and if you want it to be slightly padded. I use it in clutches where I am creating shape and body with darts, etc and I want it to keep the shape I create, as well as some of my other bags such as ones that have a ‘sugar bag’ style base (see my posting on Adding Shape & Depth to Bags). I also use it, in conjunction with the fusible interfacing, in all my gadget sleeves so that there is added stability and protection offered. The sew-in interlining is also good for enclosing inside the fabric lengths of handles, if you want to create a soft, slightly padded handle.

The sewing patterns that I design include the use of interfacing and interlining where needed. I would say, give them a try and find out just what you can do with them. Practice with different types, weights, etc on scrap pieces of fabric to see what suits your project best. As a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to use a fusible interfacing that is slightly lighter than your fabric, this helps to cut down on creases appearing in the fabric.

handmade e-reader sleeve

e-reader sleeve, fusible interfacing and sew-in interlining used to protect gadgets.

24 thoughts on “Using Interfacing and Interlining When Making Bags – Sewing Advice

  1. Thank you Susie for this great info. I bought heavy iron-on interfacing quite a while ago and it was the wrong material for the job. Of course I couldn’t take it back and have been hanging onto it since, wondering what I could use it for. Thank you for igniting the spark lol🙂 I could use it for the bottoms of the bags I have been making. I think its much too rigid to be used for the sides.. Love your blog too🙂

  2. Thank you, I am just starting to make bags and I have the interfacing right but havent quite mastered the interlining weight yet. xxxx

  3. Pingback: Sewing Tips – How to Make Handmade Bags Look Professional « Susie D Designs' Blog

  4. At last I feel I have found some simple, honest feedback in interfacing – a mindfield of mind boggling information had left me miserable and convinced I’d never make another bag! By only discussing the use of two products you have made it all make sense! (and UK products at that)
    Thank you – I am off to make another bag🙂

    • Hi Joanne, I’m so pleased you found the article so helpful. It’s lovely to hear that this has restored your confidence in bag-making. Thank you for stopping by. If you need any more advice on interfacing or anything to do with bag-making give me a shout. Happy sewing!

  5. Pingback: Where to get Vilene Interfacing Products in the UK | SusieDDesigns' Blog

  6. Hello, have only just started bag making so a real novice. I have just purchased some vilene g700 and thermolam. However I’m not sure if I need to interline the lining pieces with the G700. Is there any advice you can offer regarding this please

    • I add interfacing to the lining, depending on the type of bag I’m making. On the outer, if you need to use fleece, I would use a fusible such as H630 or H640. Fuse this directly on top of the fused G700, with seam allowances cut away to avoid bulk.

  7. Hi there, I too don’t know where to start with interfacing! I am making bags at the moment out if shrunk wool jumpers. Some are almost as thick as carpet, some not so thick. What would you recommend to give some structure to the bags? And should it be included in the seams or cut short so the seams aren’t too bulky?? Many thanks, jo

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