Thursday, April 14, 2011

Self-Fabric Interfacing


I'm making a scoop neck blouse in silk charmeuse (this is a project for my book) and have been thinking a bit obsessively about what interfacing to use on the neck facing. Yes, interfacing. I can actually admit to laying awake at night scheming about this very detail.

One thing I've always liked about vintage and couture sewing is the use of ordinary fabrics as interfacings: muslin, organza, taffeta, canvas. I think there's very rarely just one good choice of an interfacing, and the notion of using these fabrics (rather than commercial interfacings) just appeals to me as a nice bespoke touch. But you know how I love those fiddly vintage details!

Anyway, I've been mulling over the interfacing choice for this silk charmeuse blouse. I originally thought silk organza. But my time at Susan Khalje's couture sewing school has me rethinking my tendency to go to organza for everything. I learned that you don't want to use organza as an underlining or interfacing for anything that has a softer hand than the organza itself, as it can cause unattractive buckling or bunching in the fashion fabric. Susan actually recommends silk crepe de chine as an underlining for charmeuse.

I've come across a few sources this week that suggest "self-fabric" as a great interfacing for charmeuse and other silks. In other words, if you were interfacing a neck facing, you would use a second layer of your fashion fabric basted to the facing. Claire Shaeffer is one proponent of this method, while the Emma One Sock fabric guide says: "By far the best interfacing for charmeuse is silk. Use silk organza for those areas that need a bit of crispness. Use a layer of self-fabric for those areas that need interfacing but need to retain a soft hand."

And indeed, I would want this neckline to retain its drape. So I'm thinking the self-fabric route might be the way to go, in conjunction with some careful hand understitching to keep the layers from rolling to the outside. I'll finish the facing edge by hand overcasting because I'm feeling fancy like that.

Have any of you used this self-fabric method? Obviously, the best way to see if an interfacing will work is to test it. But since I have little time to sew right now (only enough time to lay awake thinking obsessively about it), I thought I would pose the question.


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27 comments:

  1. Oh my word! I have no comment on the actual issue at hand but that gradient silk charmeuse is INSANELY gorgeous.

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  2. I haven't used self-fabric as an interfacing, but I have used similar weight fabrics as interfacings in the past with great success. I think the upside really is that it helps retain the hand of the fabric, while adding a tiny bit of stability. So often commercial interfacings really don't even come close to mimicking the actual fabric, and just ruin it. I'll definitely be interested to hear what your results are with trying this on the silk charmeuse!

    ♥ Casey

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  3. I haven't used self-fabric as an interfacing, but I have used similar weight fabrics as interfacings in the past with great success. I think the upside really is that it helps retain the hand of the fabric, while adding a tiny bit of stability. So often commercial interfacings really don't even come close to mimicking the actual fabric, and just ruin it. I'll definitely be interested to hear what your results are with trying this on the silk charmeuse!

    ♥ Casey

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  4. I haven't used this method, but it sounds like the perfect thing for that absolutely GORGEOUS fabric you are using for the blouse. Retaining the drape, but with just a little more stability. I am going to try that on the next project I come across!! Thanks, Gertie

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  6. Absolutely. There's no hard and fast rule about what makes "the best" interfacing. It depends on the garment, the fabric, the desired hand and drape of the garment and your needs. I've used self fabric for interfacing with beautiful results.

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  7. I made a gown for a black-tie wedding out of charmeuse last year, and did self-fabric for all the facings-- it worked perfectly! The fabric maintained its drape beautifully. Good luck, can't wait to see the finished product!

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  8. Self fabric as interfacing is definately a vintage thing. My Mother and Grandmother used nothing else- I can remember being taught by them, that was all one needed. I also remember the point when I switched to a comercial product- wool skirt with waistband- it looked more like a tire innertube than a waistband!
    Beautiful fabric! Love the blog.

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  9. I agree with Northern Sky; my mom used self fabric or similar fabric for interfacing, and sometimes for linings. We've all bought into the concept that garments required separate stuff, such as nonwoven interfacing, but these options didn't come into general use until the 1970s. I remember some pretty horrible press on interfacing stuff that would just shrivel into hard hunks if touched with a hot iron.

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  10. Although I haven't used silk with self-fabric facings, I have used slippery rayon and poly counterparts and am definitely a proponent of it, with the bonus that the facing feels just lovely against your skin. I will say that with slippery fabric, even with understitching can roll out, so I usually would make my neck facing larger so I could also anchor it at the shoulder seam (and sometimes the side seam!) It may be that my prominent chest was more likely to push the facing out. It is super luxurious to have a facing that's a half-lining size, and it was always super easy to draft. It's my favorite for v-necks as well.

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  11. I'm just glad to hear that I'm not the only one who lays awake at night thinking through sewing dilemmas. I'll even lay there and mentally "sew" entire projects over and over. By the time I actually get the machine, it's like I've done it a dozen times before :)

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  12. I haven't used it myself, but in reply to someone on another site who had a question about the use of sew-in interfacing (which I have used), I did some research and passed along the idea of using self-fabric. That method is used for some better men's shirts.

    I've read that one can use muslin, but I've wondered what kind to use. In addition, it's very unstable and blocking it was always the first step in any of my sewing classes. Maybe once it's sewn in it's no longer a problem.

    Using silk sounds like a good idea, but, as you noted, doing samples is the only way to tell. It's expensive, but on an a blouse that's already expensive, why skimp if it will work?

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  13. If fact I am sewing a blouse right now and I'm using self-fabric interfacing for the neckband and front placket. The fabric is a semi-sheer cotton lawn in jet black. I chose to go with self fabric interfacing for the shirt because all of the other interfacing I tested looked yucky to me when seen through my fashion fabric. It is working out well - I really don't need alot of stiffness and the interfaced pieces look perfectly matched to the rest of the shirt.

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  14. I have no experience with self-fabric facing, but from everyone's comments, and my desire to avoid buying more supplies than I need, I am *totally* going to try this out. :) Thanks!!!

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  15. Virginia, AnyBody Custom ClothingApril 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    I have used self-fabric for interfacings with great results. What I appreciate about the self-fabric is being assured that, upon washing or dry-cleaning, both layers will behave the same; so I never hesitate in choosing this method over commercial interfacings.

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  16. I routinely use self fabric for interfacing on blouses. If I don't have enough fabric, I will at least try to find a fabric of a similar hand that is the same color. Same color interfacing is particularly nice if the garment has buttonholes since you can sometimes see little white threads where you cut out the buttonhole if you use white interfacing.

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  17. I started using self fabric for interfacing initially just because, in between my grandmother's two yearly visits, I pretty much made sewing up as I went along when I was younger. So I'd look at something and go, "Okay, that waistband needs to be sturdier? Maybe I should fold the fabric over another time and sew it all together!" If it needs something else, "oh, maybe I'll stick in a layer of this felty/netty/starched/weird vinylly stuff from the fabric box to keep it in place!" Sometimes this was a disaster (not EXACTLY an interfacing case, but...corrugated cardboard strips do not stabilize the bases of purses as well as they promise a thirteen year old they will). Other times, it worked well enough that I didn't really realise I was doing anything strange.

    I now have sort of a resistance to using "real" interfacing simply because I never got in the habit and rarely have any around. Also, since often my sewing tends to be done with mystery fabric from Goodwill and torn-up clothes, a trip to the fabric store isn't necessarily part of a project...so why bother going just to get some weird fake fabric stuff? Occasionally, especially if I'm working with a pattern that's making me nervous and I just want to follow the directions verbatim, or if it's necessary for something that the fabric I have doesn't seem happy about accomplishing, I will use it. But for the most part I'm a fan of sticking to the fibers you've got!

    I've never sewn anything with silk charmeuse so I can't speak to the specific fabric though...except to say it's gorgeous!

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  18. Definitely test it but my vintage sewing books seem to give the same suggestion with blouse weight silks they often use self-fabric. I'd try it.

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  19. I haven't done self-fabric yet but probably will because even the lightest interfacing on charmeuse added more weight than I wanted on my last silk project. Out of curiosity I carefully pried open facings I liked on a couple of my more high-end rtw silk (both charmeuse and crepe de chine) garments and they just had a layer of self fabric folded back into the facings (buttonhole, neckline, even cuffs). There was no interfacing, anywhere.

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  20. I don't think I've use self-fabric for interfacing yet, but I did something similar on a recent blouse. It was silk charmeuse that I underlined with silk crepe de chine because the charmeuse was a little too sheer. I used the crepe de chine as the interfacing on the facings and it was perfect.

    Have you ever done a faced facing? It is my favorite finishing technique for facings. It looks so lovely and it can even be done with fusibles if you are careful.

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  21. Hi

    I´m doing my second year in dress making and design (in Sweden) and i first thought i did not understand what you ment.

    Our teachers always preach about taking the same fabric as interfacing, i actuelly never thought of using anything else when it comes to good sewing.

    If yoy want it thicker or more crisp you press flisselin on it (the thin thing with glue on one side)

    Its fun to lern that you can do things more then one way!

    Love the blog

    Camilla

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  22. I always turn to self-fabric first as a facing or lining! Taught that way by my mom & grandmom (who taught me to sew when I was a kid).

    I only use store-bought interfacings if I need something weirdly specific, & really only for making purses. I like the non-woven heavy interfacing for purses bec. it makes them extra crisp & sturdy.

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  23. I once undertook making a blue dress with a drapey cowl neckline out of silk charmuese and the self-fabric facing worked like a charm. Unfortunately the dress itself didn't fit as nicely as I had hoped so I never wear it. I love the colour of your silk! It is going to be fabulous!

    As an aside, if you were making a muslin for a charmuese-appropriate pattern, what would you use that wouldn't be as dear as the real deal but would still give you an idea of how things will drape?

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  24. Gabrielle - for test fabric for charmeuse, sometimes you can find steals on rayon challis. It helps using it for the drape aspect. I was playing around with silk a lot last year and found some rayon challis on super sale. It actually ended up being a lot cheaper than most muslin.

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  25. Oh, I never thought about not using organza for something that is lighter than it! I've been interfacing with "regular" fabrics for some recent projects, and I've had good luck with using the interfacing on the cross-grain, to gain a little more stability.

    Can't wait to see your blouse!

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  26. I've never thought of using self fabric as interfacing before, but am going to try it out as soon as possible. Living in the Philippines means that I can usually only find very hard non-iron on interfacing which don't do the job well at all! This is probably a much better alternative!

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  27. Oh I can't tell you how happy these comments make me! I'm new to sewing and trying out a vintage blouse pattern with some thrifted cotton sheet fabric. I just couldn't bring myself to use store-bought interfacing on what is likely to be very much a learning curve project! I just cut the interfacing out of the same fabric, but I was worried I'd committed some cardinal sin. Turns out I'm being authentic :D

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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