Photo: Pellon

Interfacing is a hidden component. It’s the magic in the middle. It adds body to the bag shape.
Choosing just the right interfacing is key to your handbag’s appearance and performance. In a handbag, purse, or tote bag, it can make the difference between a project looking professional and wearing well, rather than tired and homemade. If you use an interfacing that is too firm, it can make your handbag stiff, rigid, and uncomfortable. Without the right interfacing, your handbag can be limp and lifeless.
Interfacing may also be described as fusible or sew-in. Fusible interfacing has an adhesive on one or two sides, which will be activated by the heat of your iron. The choice between a fusible and a sew-in interfacing depends on the chosen fabric, the tactical texture of its surface, and the degree of firmness desired. Fusibles are great time savers. They’re easy to work with and compatible with most fabrics. They will make a fabric slightly crisper than a sew-in interfacing of comparable weight. Fusi-Knit® is ideal for reinforcing and stabilizing weaker fashion fabrics without adding stiffness, especially thin fashion linings which will fall apart through “wear & tear”.
Some fabrics simply cannot be fused. The fibre content or the finish will not allow the adhesive to penetrate. Other fabrics may be too sensitive: the heat, moisture, and pressure needed might damage them or flatten its surface texture. A sew-in might be preferable so as not to mar the beauty of the fabric. Generally, Pellon® interfacings do not need to be preshrunk.

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Always pretest any fusibles before starting your project. We recommend pre-washing your fabrics if possible to preshrink as well as to remove any finishes that may be on the fabric and could interfere with the fusing process.
To pretest, cut a 4 x 4-inch (10 x 10 cm) piece of fabric. Cut a 2 x 4-inch (5 x 10 cm) piece of interfacing. Fuse only half of the square per the manufacturer’s instructions included with the fusible. Allow the fabric to cool. The interfacing should be firmly attached to the fabric. If not, more heat, time, or pressure may be needed. Evaluate the surface of the fabric. It should be smooth/unchanged. If not, the interfacing may be too heavy for the fabric or the iron may have been too hot during fusing. If the fabric seems too crisp or heavy, change to a lighter weight or consider a sew—in. If the fabric seems too limp, consider a crisper interfacing or add a second layer of interfacing.

In bags that have a flat base it is a good idea to add a firm bottom. Cardboard can give you the right amount of firmness but will fold and buckle over time and disintegrate when wet. A better alternative is plastic canvas grid. This is light weight and can be cut to size. Because it made of plastic it is more durable than cardboard and the grid makes adding bag feet a breeze. It is sold in craft shops, sewing shops and hobby shops.



The following list includes some Pellon® interfacings and interlinings handy for use in making handbags, tote bags, and purses:

  • 65 Pellon® Heavyweight Stabilizer: This stable sew-in non-woven is great to use in bags where you need a touch of firmness.
  • 70 Pellon® Peltex® Ultra-Firm Stabilizer: This ultra-firm sew-in non-woven has the weight of cardboard but bend and wash like fabric. It is great to use two Iayers in the bottom of a bag or in the handles to give firmness and stability. It’s also great for fabrics that you not want to fuse.
  • 71F Pellon® Peltex® I – 1-Sided Fusible Ultra-Firm Stabilizer: This one-sided fusible ultra-firm stabilizer can be used either on the outer fabric or fused to inner fabric to give you stability and a crisp exterior. When multiple layers are fused together, it will give you a very firm, stable product.
  • 72F Pellon® Peltex® II – 2-Sided Fusible Ultra-Firm Stabilizer: This two-sided ultra-firm stabilizer can two fabrics together while giving wonderful firmness to your bag—and it can be a time saver. As with the 70 and 71F, multiple layers will give you more stability firmness yet will still be washable and dry cleanable.
  • NR-3102 Pellon® FusiKnit ® Tricot Fusible Interfacing: Fusible, lightweight tricot knit interfacing/underlining with crosswise stretch for soft shaping and tailoring.
  • 926 PelIon® Extra-Firm Stabilizer: This product is also a firm, stable sew-in product. It has a slightly softer hand than the Peltex series, and you might prefer this in bags you want to slouch a bit.
  • 808 Craft-Fuse® Iron-On: This thin, crisp iron-on lends support and stability without extra weight for smaller handbags or purses.
  • 809 Décor—Bond Iron-On: Originally introduced for the home decorating market, bag designers have taken a liking to its crisp but light support for tote bags and purses.
  • 987F Pellon® Fusible Fleece: This lightweight, low-loft fusible fleece is perfect to add some stability and firmness to a purse, backpack, or tote bag without adding too much fluff. An absolute favourite of designers!
  • 988 Pellon® Fleece Interlining: This lightweight, low-loft, sew-in fleece can add a small amount of loft to your project. Used by itself, it will keep your small clutch soft, but if you add a stabilizer like 70 or 71F or 72F you will have firmness with low loft.
  • TP970 Thermolam Plus®: This heavily needled, sew-in fleece is wonderful for use in small luggage, back-packs, large tote bags. anywhere you prefer a little extra loft. Use it in conjunction with a stabilizer like 808 or 809, and you will get a great result.
  • TP9Z1F Fusible Thermolam Plus®: The fusible version of the heavily needled, polyester fleece is great for all kinds of bags. Use it alone or with another stabilizer for extra firmness with body.
  • SF101 Shapeflex® Woven Fusible: This 100 percent cotton woven fusible is great for light- to medium-weight fabrics. Fused to the outside fabric, it gives a light firmness to your purse without being too crisp.


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7 responses to “THE MAGIC IN THE MIDDLE

  1. thank you for this comprehensive list of interfacings and their use. most appreciated,

  2. Hi there which interfacing(s) do you recommend for suede and leather? There are some leathers I like to use that are soft but still needs some structure to it.

    • Don

      I wouldn’t use any interfacing on leather or suede as I feel it “ruins” the suppleness of the material. However, ANY sew-in type interfacing will do.

  3. I love Pellon products. Great information here. For my fabric bags I mostly use the fusible woven SF101, Thermolam Plus Fusible and Peltex.

  4. I wonder if you could offer me some advice. I am a weaver and would like to use some of my remnants of lambswool fabric to make bags. It is of a weight suitable for throws and cushions, quite thick but soft and drapey. I am wondering what sort of interfacing would be best for this type of fabric.

  5. Colleen

    I often come back here to check on a technique or reference a pattern – just a quick note to say thank you for your efforts to share all this information, it’s most appreciated! Cheers!

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