The Difference Between Interfacing and Stabilizer


Looking to give a project a specific shape? Want to make sure that collar stays crisp? You’re in the market for interfacing or stabilizer. These layers rest behind the fabric and are a handy tool for every sewer to master. Achieving professional sewing results can be as easy as choosing the proper interfacing or stabilizer. These two different materials will add shape and secure stitches.

Related video: Types of Interfacing Fabric and Interfacing Sewing

What is Interfacing?

This neutral colored material is meant to be permanently added to fabric. Interfacing is either fused in place using an iron or sewn in place.

Different Types of Interfacing

There are several types of interfacing available, each with a specific use. Here are the main types:

    • Woven Interfacing: This type comes in various weights and is meant to be used with woven fabric such as cotton.
    • Knit Interfacing: The noted difference of this type of interfacing is that it is actually a knit, therefore it will stretch slightly. Use this type of interfacing when sewing knits.
    • Fusible Fleece: Soft and lofty, this type of interfacing fuses to the fabric. It adds a thick layer to the fabric making it easier to hold a specific shape. Consider using multiple layers of fusible fleece to create an especially rigid shape.
    • Fusible Web: Adhesive on both sides, this type of interfacing is used mostly for appliqué. It is also known as Stitch-Witchery or Heat ’n Bond.
Related video: How to Use Fusible Web and Other Adhesives

What is Stabilizer?

Unlike interfacing, stabilizer is created to be removed after stitching. Stabilizer helps reinforce fabric when stitching may damage it.

Different Types of Stabilizer

There are three main types of stabilizer to consider:

    • Tear-Away: Very paper-like, this stabilizer works well with lightweight fabric and light stitch work.
    • Wash-Away: This form of stabilizer dissolves in water after stitching. Best used when stitching appliqués or when a bit of stabilizer is needed on the fabric’s right side.
    • Cut-Away: Usually used when working with heavy stitch work, cut-away adds firm support to fabric.
Related video: Creative Uses for Fabric Stabilizer

How have you used interfacing or stabilizer to enhance your sewing projects? Let us know in the comments!

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21 Responses to “The Difference Between Interfacing and Stabilizer”
  1. Sheila Mark

    I have been sewing & making quilts for about 4 years. I have had difficulty understanding the difference in all the products available. This article has finally clarified the uses and applications in a concise, clear manner. Thanks!

  2. Rita

    Found this helpful, I always seen to have problems which to choose.Thank you

  3. Vivian

    I am making a white boucle vest that requires hair canvas or hymo, but the gray color tints the face color of the boucle, giving it a gray tinge. What is an acceptable sew in substitute?

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Vivian. Since hair canvas is just a medium to heavy weight fusible woven interfacing, you can substitute any other medium or heavyweight sew in interfacing. These generally come in white and won’t tint the fabric at all.

      • Bunny

        I would cut the hair canvas out minus seam allowances. Now cut a piece of white muslin out in the size the pattern specifies. Zigzag stitch the canvas to the muslin and use that way. This is often done in couture. I can’t think of any other sew in interfacing that would perform like hair canvas. It molds and curves and the potential subs on the market don’t work that way. Good luck.

  4. Maria

    I need to add some stability to a very long banner that I created for our church altar. The fabric is a silk blend and it does not hang straight. I’m thinking about using iron on interfacing on the back side of the banner to give it some stiffness. What do you think?

    • Customer Service

      Hi Maria. Fusible interfacing would definitely give the banner stability. If the silk blend is very lightweight you will most likely need a fairly heavyweight interfacing. If you can not find a heavy enough weight of fusible interfacing, you can always use a spray adhesive to attach the interfacing to the back of your banner as well.

      Hope this helps!

  5. Amy

    I am making a quilt using different types of baby clothes. What type of interfacing would be best?

  6. Bunny

    Fusible web is not an interfacing. It is used to bond to fabrics together, not introduce structure to a garment. Fusible fleece can be added to a garment and is usually to provide additional warmth or facilitate a quilted effect. It technically is not interfacing. I can’t even imagine several layers being used in a garment. There are far better products to provide rigidity. I really think there is confusing information here for beginners. Perhaps more information regarding uses in regards to garment making versus crafts. The products I use in my bags I never use in my garment.

    • Jessica

      I’m looking at making a large fedora hat for at the beach. While I want it to be a little floppy I don’t want the whole bill to fall straight down. What would be good for the rigidity in the bill?

  7. Amanda

    Thanks to your posting this on pinterest it will the newbys at joanns in training and me helping them .

  8. Barbara

    Which of these two do I use on handwoven fabric so that it does not unravel as I try to sew it? This is why I have not, as yet, attempted to cut my handwoven yardage because I don’t know how to keep it from coming apart as I attempt to get the pattern pieces put together. This is my first time trying to make my own clothes with fabric I have made.

  9. Kathy

    I am constantly explaining about interfacings and stabalizers and fleeces, etc. to my customers. You have outlined it well. However, I say they are all,stabalizers, i.e. they all provide stability to the fabric. Under that heading we have interfacings (meant to be premanent, tear aways and wash aways (not expected to be permanent), and fleeces ( permanent but soft and adding depth). Thoughts?

  10. Jeanne Bragg

    I am making a log cabin quilt with ties and a teacher suggested using a soft stabilizer before cutting . Can’t remember which one. What do you recommend?

    • Customer Service

      Hello Jeanne,

      I would recommend using a light weight fusible interfacing. I personally use Pellon brand, as it is easy to find at most craft and fabric stores and works great! Hope this helps!

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