6 Differences between Stabilizer and Interfacing

Working with different fabrics for embroidery, sewing, or any other form of threadwork requires skill, and the patience to go through the processes involved. Whether you are a beginner who is trying to get better at the craft, or an experienced sewer, there is always the need to be extra careful when sewing a piece you are working on.

The best ways to avoid uneven sewing and bad structure are interfacing and stabilizer. If you’ve heard of these terms and aren’t sure of how they work, keep reading as we break the processes and explain key differences between stabilizer and interfacing.

Before we can jump into the differences between these two methods of supporting your fabric, it is important to establish what they are, and how they work.

With the details of each method, you will be better informed to know which of the methods will work best for your regular sewing or embroidery project.

What Is Stabilizer And How Does It Work?

Stitching or sewing results in a lot of pull-and-tug on the fabric, which can make it stretch with uneven stitching. When that happens, it can be very infuriating to deal with, especially if it is a commercial production where the customer’s feedback means everything. But you don’t have to deal with that stress when you use a stabilizer.

A stabilizer is a type of backing that is used when stitching to avoid any stretch due to the fabric movement while sewing. It is very important for projects that involve any embroidery or sewing because the needle can be moving very fast, which could cause the fabric to stretch.

With a stabilizer, the fabric stays in place and you can achieve both stability and shape while you stitch. It serves as a form of support for your embroidery or sewing fabric. With the stabilizer, you can complete the project production without worrying about the quality of the outcome.

In addition to providing support while you work on the fabric to create the perfect structure, a stabilizer can be removed after stitching. That way, you never have to stress about the implication of the stabilizer for your design or how it will turn out in the end results.

There are different types of stabilizers that you can use for sewing or embroidery, and the type you choose is typically based on the type of fabric you are working on. You can use wash-away, cut-away, or tear-away stabilizers, depending on the purpose of the production. Like their names imply, each of the types of stabilizers can be washed away, cut, or torn when the stitching is completed and the fabric doesn’t need support.

Stabilizers come in different weights so it is important to choose one that is similar or close to the weight of your fabric, or the stitch count for the project. The weight is crucial because the stabilizer should keep the fabric in place and if it is lighter than the fabric, the function of the stabilizer would be defeated.

Based on the types of stabilizers, it is somewhat clear that it is not a permanent addition to the fabric. The material of the stabilizer is stiff so it can help to manipulate the fabric into your desired structure. The fabric maintains the structure even after the stabilizer is removed.

What Is Interfacing And How Does It Work?

To put it simply, interfacing is the more permanent version of stabilizer, and it is used for fabric that have long-term purposes. If you are working on a fabric that needs to take on a particular shape and stiffness, interfacing is the best way to get your results.

You can use interfacing for making quilts and other projects that serve as apparels. The primary function is to give a definitive stiffness to the production, which is typically essential for the outcome. Parts of apparels like collars, cuffs, and waistbands, bags, and other projects that require extra reinforcement are best produced with interfacing.

Like stabilizers, interfacing comes in weighted varieties like feather, medium, or heavy weight with different types of materials such as polyester, cotton, or blends of cotton, cotton viscose, horsehair, polyester, and wool. Seam tape and stitch witchery are also forms of interfacing, although less common among people who are just exploring projects that require interfacing.

Depending on the type of interfacing, it can be sewn or ironed on the fabric that you are working on. Interfacing provides sturdiness during production and later when the fabric is being used.

Interfacing is ideal for projects that are commercial and use-intensive because they are made to last longer than stabilizers. The way fabric weight and stiffness varies, so does the stiffness in different types of interfacing.

Like stabilizers, you need to match the stiffness of the interfacing with the fabric you are using it to shape. Light interfacing should be used for light-weight materials, while heavy-weight interfacing goes with heavy-weighted fabric. That way, the outcome of the production will look and feel the way it should; not heavier or lighter.

Differences Between Stabilizer And Interfacing

From our discussion so far, it is clear that stabilizer and interfacing have a lot in common. And that explains why it can be so easy to mix them up. However, they are two different things with unique features that you understand better with practice.

To start you off right, with the appropriate method for each of your projects, here are the differences between stabilizer and interfacing.

1. Purposes

The primary distinction between stabilizers and interfacing lies in their functions. Stabilizers are used for craft items like tote bags, embroidery, and stitching, while interfacing is used in making apparels like waistbands, collars, and cuffs.

2. Duration of Use

Interfacing is the ideal option for permanent fixtures into fabric because it is used for making clothing, which are used long-term. On the other hand, stabilizers are only used, as their name implies, to stabilize and support the fabric while you work on it.

As a result, stabilizers can be very temporary, unless you choose to leave it in, although chances of them maintaining sturdiness over time are not as high as interfacing. So if the fabric will be used very often over a long period, interfacing is your best option.

3. Available types

The varieties available for interfacing and stabilizers are based on their purposes. Stabilizer come in a range of weights and they can be cut, washed, or torn off after use in the production process.

Interfacing also comes in a variety of weights but the types of interfacing are based on the material. Interfacing materials include polyester, cotton, or blends of cotton, cotton viscose, horsehair, polyester, and wool.

4. Post-production

After application and use, stabilizers and interfacing have different post-production processes. Stabilizers can be cut, torn, or rinsed off, while interfacing is not removed post-production because it is very typical.

5. Flexibility

In the manufacturing of these methods of fabric support, there is a clear distinction. Stabilizers are made to be rigid in every direction because the fabric must be well-supported before they are removed so there can’t be any lack of sturdiness.

Interfacing, on the other hand, is a little bit more flexible because the clothing items it is used for may need to be handled differently. So interfacing may be rigid and sturdy in one side and flexible in another.

6. Measurement

When selecting either stabilizer or interfacing for your project, the size that is best for your fabric differs. For stabilizers, you need paper or film that weighs more than your fabric and stitch count. Interfacing is measured differently because of the fact that it is a permanent addition to the fabric.

With these differences, you can make the best decision to get a perfect project outcome!

Can I Use A Stabilizer Where I Should Use Interfacing?

No, you cannot. Interfacing is meant for clothing and apparels so using a stabilizer may give the same shape, but it won’t necessarily have the right sturdiness.

Also, stabilizers are made to be completely rigid, not partly flexible and permanent like interfacing so you may struggle with the use of the fabric and longevity, as well as the downright quality.

Do I Always Have To Remove The Stabilizer I Use?

While stabilizers usually come in removable types, removing it can be entirely up to you. However, it is advisable to remove the stabilizer after completing the embroidery or sewing.

If you use a wash-off stabilizer and forget to remove it, you may have to pull the pieces away when you eventually wash the fabric. If you want permanent sturdiness, simply use interfacing.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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