In pursuit of firmness..

I’m currently working on a project in my role as a Creative Blogger for Ochre and Ocre – writing a simple tutorial for fabric storage baskets using their lovely upholstery weight cottons. Getting the right amount of firmness in a project like this is essential, but easy enough with heavier weight fabrics like these which only need a minimal amount of extra heft. But it’s so much trickier if you are working with quilting weight and dressmaking cottons. Whilst I am creating loads of practice pieces, I thought it would be good opportunity to get to grips with interfacing options for these fabrics.

I have written before about my preferences for interfacing soft purses, wallets and pouches, but what about when you need more structure? Choosing interfacing is overwhelming, and it’s so easy to make mistakes when there are so many to choose from. Just check out the Vilene options available at Jaycotts or at Empress Mills – it’s a little bit scary! An added complication is that the best interfacing/interlining solution is often a combination of a couple of different types… it’s easy to spend a lot of money and not get quite the result you want, so I thought I’d share my findings so far!

For this first experiment, I wanted to practice my basket pattern using some Liberty patchwork (have to make a small hole in my mountain of Liberty scraps now and again…) and some quilting weight linen/cotton mix, so I knew that I needed a real workhorse interfacing – I don’t want a storage box with collapsing sides!  So after researching the options, I decided to try out some Vilene S320 for firmness paired with Vilene H640 fusible fleece for a squidge factor. Here’s the finished article:

Liberty and linen storage basket


Vilene S320 is desribed as firm and flexible and not too heavyweight, but when it arrived it seemed terribly heavy and stiff to me, and I was worried that it would create the ‘crispy’, easily creased effect that I really don’t like with some interfaced fabric (because why use fabric when you are going to end up with something that feels like cardboard?).  I fused it to the outer section (the linen and liberty combo) with some trepidation, but the result was good – firm but definitely not crisp or cardboardy – I love the sharp lines of the seams that you get using this interfacing! It also handled well through my sewing machine (with a 90/14 machine needle), and was a doddle to squeeze through 5″ hole I left for turning the basket through.

I always think that interfacing the lining of any bag/box/pouch is essential – it gives a much better finish. Because I had used the S320 on the outer layer, the only option I had was to use the H640 fusible fleece. I think the finish is less good here: 

Liberty and linen storage basket
Beautiful Finca threads and some sewing bits and bobs all stored away…. It wont look so nice when it is stuffed 100s of zips and magnetic snaps!

The lightweight Liberty lawn plus the fleece are a bit too puffy, and the finish isn’t as neat as I would like. I think a better choice would have been to fuse the H640 to the outer section (on top of the S320) and then used Vilene G700 (a woven cotton iron-on interfacing) on the lining fabric, to give more neatness and to add structure. This would also mean that the box would sag a bit less at the sides (it’s not bad, but I’d prefer it to have a tiny bit more structure). I shall try that next time and share my findings! Good thing I actually want to replace all the shoeboxes I currently store my sewing stuff in…