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What Can I Use Instead of Interfacing?

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Are you looking for a substitute to use instead of interfacing? Adhesive fusible interfacing is easy and convenient to use, and a must have in every sewing tool box

However at times, you might run out of a ready-made fusible or sew-in interface. Is there a quick fix or something you can do instead of running back out to the store?

What can I use instead of interfacing? Alternative fabric to replace interfacing is muslin, broadcloth or linen. 

Make sure to pre-wash both fabric and interfacing substitute fabric. Cut the replacement fabric on the grain and baste stitch 3.5 or wider to attach to the main fabric.  

Interfacing is a non-woven or woven fabric that provides stiffness to specific areas of the garment for shape and structure including waistbands, collars, or cuffs to name a few. If you are working on a sewing project and suddenly run out of interfacing, you can use alternate or substitute interfacing. 

From muslin to broad cloth, there are many options, but cotton and linen are a very good alternative to interfacing as it is lighter and thinner compared to other fabrics. Another option is muslin as it is not very bulky, however it is recommended to pre-wash/pre-shrink before using.

This article covers everything you need to know about substituting for interfacing. Answered below are frequently asked questions about what to use instead of interfacing including the best interfacing alternatives available.

Do I need interfacing?

Yes, interfacing is important to provide structure, support, and shape to the overall garment. The fabric is reinforced with interfacing, which assists the garments to hold up to everyday wear and tear.

Some reasons why interfacing is needed:

  • Provides the capability for a garment or bag to hold its shape.
  • Reinforces the fabric areas where there could be any weight pulling, cutting, puncturing or stressing on the fabric.
  • Avoid fabric from tearing, sagging, drooping or hanging.
  • Stabilizes the fabric and provides a better fabric edge for cuffs, waistbands, collars, etc.

It is important to have interfacing to complete the garment. Without interfacing and the proper technique, the garment will hang and sag which does not give a professional appearance. 

Whether you are using alternative way, or store-bought adhesive or sewn-in interfacing, use it wisely. Interfacing will make or break the finished look of the project.

How do you stiffen fabric without interfacing?

There are ways to stiffen fabric without interfacing by using DIY methods, craft fabric stiffing, or by using commercial stiffening products. These stiffening techniques will add a cutting-edge fabric finish to your sewing project.

Let’s look at 6 ways to quickly stiffen fabric without interfacing:

  • Make a solution by blending a cup of water with a tablespoon of wood glue. 
  • Use a tablespoon of cornflour or potato starch with two cups of water and mix well. 
  • For silk and chiffon fabrics, use gelatin for stiffening. Make a solution using a tablespoon of gelatin with two cups of water. Let it set for one hour, then add 4 cups of hot water to the mixture. Dip the fabric into the solution and let it dry to stiffen.
  • For natural fabrics, use Elmer’s Glue with equal parts of glue and water to stiffen the fabric.
  • Mix water and sugar in equal parts and boil on the stove. Soak the garment, take it out from the mixture and lay on the flat surface to air dry.
  • Boil white rice in a pot and drain water. Let the rice water cool down, dip the fabric into the rice water and take it out to remove excess water. Air dry the fabric until the fabric stiffens.

Can I use a stabilizer as interfacing?

Stabilizer provides support to the fabric during graining and weaving. It avoids fraying, gives weight to a certain area, and shape to the overall fabric. A stabilizer is placed on the wrong or underside of the fabric and removed once sewn.

A stabilizer is generally utilized while sewing, also known as interfacing. It is also available in a fusible form and cut away form. 

Fusible is sewn in the area while cut-away is great for any fabrics when making hand embroidery.

What is the difference between interfacing and stabilizer?

Stabilizer is designed such that it can be eliminated post stitching since stitching can harm the stabilizer. While interfacing is either sewn-in or fusible, it remains with the fabric even after stitching.

Differences between interfacing and stabilizer:

  • Interfacing remains fused with the garment while the stabilizer is eliminated after stitching.
  • The manufacturing processes of interfacing and stabilizer are different. A stabilizer is rigid in all directions and looks like a paper or a film, but interfacing looks like a kind of fabric.
  • A stabilizer is stiff in all directions, while interfacing loosens in one direction at the same time being stiff in the other direction.

What is a substitute for interfacing?

Muslin and cotton are the best substitutes for interfacing due to the ease they give for interfacing. They can be best used when pre-washed to avoid shrinkage, then a 3.5 stitch length or wider baste stitch to substitute fabric for interfacing on the primary fabric.

When you run out of interfacing, use the same fabric for interfacing. For instance, a cotton dress can be interfaced with cotton fabric as you can function well with it. 

However, when using the same fabric as the outer garment, understand how to use fabric as interfacing properly to avoid any issues along the way.  

When using synthetic fabrics, there is a chance of shrinkage, and the garment can get ruined when washed. When working with rayon, use the same fabric externally for interfacing because the weight is the same and the shrinkage is proportional between external and internal clothing. 

That is why it is important to steam iron for interfacing so that it shrinks before sewing the layers together. 

What can i use instead of interfacing

Interfacing Substitutes: Final Thoughts

Running out of interfacing is common situation when you are in the groove of a sewing project. No need to panic, there are various ways to substitute and make your fabric stiff enough to mimic interfacing.

The alternate fabric option for interfacing is cotton, muslin, linen, or broad cloth. These does not stretch and are lightweight enough to support the specific area of the garment to give structure with ease. 

Whether you are using interfacing substitutes or original fabric, make sure to cut on the grain and also give a nice press to determine the shrinkage before sewing.

When adding these substitutes to the garment, always hand baste with long stitch on the wrong side of the garment to get the placement right and then use stitch length around 3.5 or longer to secure. 

Another quick DIY solution is to use a mixture of water and wood glue, cornflour, starch, sugar, rice, or gelatin to easily stiffen the fabric. These are permanent solutions that you can achieve if the fabric is too flimsy and you do not own any cotton or muslin alternatives to work with. 

The best substitute to use instead of interfacingis cotton or muslin. However, stabilizer is also a great option to use as interfacing since it is an alternative if there is no readymade interfacing available for the job.

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Saturday 30th of April 2022

I saw a description of a hat, where nylon mesh was used as an interlining in the brim. The hat was patent leather. I am not familiar with this fabric (nylon mesh), but it seems rather flimsy to use as interfacing for a patent leather hat. Can you explain how it can be used for this purpose. Thanks much!


Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Hi Rina, thank you for reaching out. The interlining is different than interfacing. Interlining in this matter helps to structure the brim of hat. Therefore, the nylon mesh is holding its shape instead of glued to the back of patent leather to hold the shape. I believe generally patent leather especially for hat does not require interfacing unless the hat is made out of lightweight cotton.

Kalpana Jaiswal

Sunday 24th of April 2022

Can plastic steet be pasted to a cotton fabric


Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Hi Kalpana, I wouldn't paste plastic sheet on a cotton fabric. Interfacing requires dry iron heat to attach back of fabric and plastic tend to melt easily. As a result, the cotton fabric may get damaged and create uneven bubbly surface.