Chapt 10 - Stabilization
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Table of Contents ] Chapt 1 - Fabric ] Chapt 2 - Tools and Equipment ] Chapt 3 - The Sewing Machine ] Chapt 4 - Patterns ] Chapt 5 - Pressing ] Chapt 6 - Marking The Fabric ] Chapt 7 - Preparing to Begin ] Chapt 8 - Seams ] Chapt 9 - Seam Finishes ] [ Chapt 10 - Stabilization ] Chapt 11 - Control of Fullness ] Chapt 12 - Finishing Edges ] Chapt 13 - Hand Sewing ] Chapt 14 - Closures ] Chapt 15 - Body Measurements ] Chapt 16 - Ease In Clothing ] Chapt 17 - Pattern Alterations ] Chapt 18 - Finished Dimensions ] Chapt 19 - Common Terms ] Chapt 20 - Common Costume Fabrics ] Index of Sewing Exercises ]

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Because fabric is not rigid, it is often necessary to add firmness, or to stabilize it, for certain areas on a garment. Waistbands, collars, necklines, cuffs, and plackets always need some sort of stabilization. Three methods of stabilization will be discussed.


This is a single row of machine stitching placed in the seam allowance. Stay stitching is done through a single layer of fabric and should be close to, but not on, the seam line. Stay stitching is used to prevent the seam lines from stretching as the garment is constructed. Stay stitching is always done before any seaming or finishing of seams is begun, and if correctly placed the stay stitching does not show on the finished garment.


Interfacing may be any type of fabric, it is defined by its placement and purpose, not by the nature of the fabric. However, there are a number of fabrics that are designed and marketed specifically to be used as interfacings. These fall into basically four categories:

bulletWoven interfacings are manufactured using the same process as woven surface fabrics, therefore they share the same properties. When cutting woven interfacings, the grain of the surface fabric must be matched. Woven interfacings must also be applied to the surface fabric by hand/machine stitching
bullet Non-woven interfacings are actually thousands of small fibers that are felted together using heat and steam. These fabrics have no grain so pattern pieces may be arranged on them in any configuration, permitting a more economical use of the interfacing fabric. Non-woven interfacings must also be applied to the surface fabric with hand/machine stitching.
bulletKnit interfacings are relatively new and are designed to be used on knits or very lightweight surface fabrics. These interfacings have some stretch, just as the fabrics they are used on do. Careful consideration of the direction of maximum stretch must be given before cutting. These interfacings must be machine/hand sewn to the surface fabric.
bulletFusible interfacings have one side that is permeated with a glue that will adhere to the wrong side of the surface fabric when heat and/or steam is applied. Their largest advantage is their time saving feature, since the interfacing is merely ironed onto the wrong side of the surface fabric. Fusibles are often used when the surface needs to be very stiff, such as craft and household items. Any of the three types of interfacings outlined above can be purchased in a fusible form. Carefully check the instructions for the brand of fusible interfacing used. It is also important to check the placement of fusible interfacing before applying heat, as it is very hard to remove once it has been fused.
Interfacing is used to add crispness to the edges of garment areas or to add stability on areas of great stress. The- choice of which type of interfacing to be used should take into consideration the properties of the surface fabric, how much stabilization is desired, the visual appearance of the garment, and how the garment is to be cleaned. For example, the collar of a man's shirt needs to be interfaced with a fabric that will yield a firm crisp edge, a flat surface, and that will hold its shape through many washings.


Flat lining is a piece of fabric cut to the shape and grain of the garment pieces. It is applied to the wrong side of the surface fabric and the two layers of fabric are treated as one. Flat linings are used in costumes to add durability and to support surface fabrics that need added body to realize design and/or period characteristic.
Since many patterns for costumes are developed in muslin first, time and money can be saved by using the muslin pattern for the flat lining. Each piece of the surface fabric has a corresponding muslin piece. The muslin is laid out on the wrong side of the surface fabric and pinned. The garment is then cut from the surface fabric. They-two layers of fabric are joined, usually incorporating a method that will finish the seams such as the single or double edge stitch. Pattern markings are transferred to the muslin only and all further work on the garment is done as if the surface fabric and flat lining were a single layer.

Flat lining and stay stitching

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