Add Stiffness and Shape to Clothing and Costumes

  • 01 of 05

    Interfacing

    Assortment of Interfacing
    Assortment of Interfacing. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Interfacing is a sewing notion that is used to stiffen fabric or help a part of a garment hold its shape. A shirt collar and cuffs are one of the most common ways to understand what interfacing does. It is also used in facings to help a garment edge hold it's shape but not stiffen the viewable area of the garment. Interfacing comes in a variety of forms and weights.

    • Interfacing Weights
      All interfacing is available in a variety of weights to achieve different results and to work with different...MORE weight fabrics. For example, a lightweight silky blouse will need a light weight interfacing to shape the collar but a jacket or blazer will need a stiffer interfacing in order to have a sharp edge to the lapel. A Dracula cape with the tall stand-up collar behind the head will need extremely stiff interfacing or layers of interfacing to stand up on its own.
    • Woven and Non-woven Interfacing
      Woven interfacing is woven the same way fabric is woven or knit. You will see threads running horizontally and vertically. Non-woven interfacing is a more widely available interfacing. The choice is yours unless the pattern specifies a certain type of interfacing for you to use. Test the fabric and the interfacing together by laying them over your hand together to see how much stiffness the combination will create.
    • Fusible and Sew-In Interfacing
      Fusible interfacing will have a glazed look or a spotted look on one side of the interfacing. The side with the spots or glazed look is the fusible side that when used with the heat of an iron, the interfacing will permanently adhere to fabric. Before a fusible interfacing can be used, the fabric should be pre-washed in order to remove the chemicals that are used in processing. The sizing in the fabric will prevent the fusible from staying attached to the fabric.
      Sew-In interfacing has no finishing on either side of the interfacing. It is sewn to the fabric just inside the seam line so none of the stitching will show on the outside of the garment or costume.
    • Pre-Shrinking Interfacing
      You preshrink your fabric and you forgot to check the end of the bolt of interfacing to see if it was labeled "pre-shrunk". You can preshrink interfacing but not in a washing machine! Simply soak the interfacing in cool to tepid water. Do not use hot water with fusible interfacing. Do not wring out the interfacing. Towel dry the interfacing by rolling it in layers of towel. Line dry without causing any shaping or misshaping to happen.

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  • 02 of 05

    Darts

    Stem Made By Adding a Dart to the Body of a Hat
    Stem Made By Adding a Dart to the Body of a Hat. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Darts come in different shapes and forms but anyway you look at it, a dart sewn into fabric is going to add shaping or fitting to the fabric.
    Darts are a common part of garment construction. Single ended darts and double ended darts are used in garment construction.

    Darts are marked on pattern pieces and the markings are transferred to the fabric using marking techniques. There are times you will create your own dart be it for fitting purposes or to create shape in a Halloween costume. A...MORE stovepipe style hat can be changed to a crooked stem by adding a double ended dart into the side of the stovepipe area of the hat. Experimenting with pinning and hand basting stitches is a great way to find the results you want before permanently sewing in a dart.

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  • 03 of 05

    Boning to Shape Garments and Costumes

    Boning to Shape Garments and Costumes
    Boning to Shape Garments and Costumes. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Boning is not used in everyday garments. You will find boning in formal wear and gowns, strapless garments and swimwear. Boning helps a garment hold its shape, or stay upright without sagging. Collar stays, the stiff points in the corner of collars, are a form of boning.
    Boning is available in many, many forms and they way it is sewn depends on the type of boning. Boning was originally made from bones. It is now made from plastic, metal or stiff polyester. Boning is commonly sewn to the lining or...MORE encased in seam allowances or casing. It is not directly sewn to the outer fabric of the garment.
    Sewing costumes that may be worn once, does not require you to search out boning or break the bank to purchase boning. Package strapping, those stiff plastic strips wrapped around boxes, or another plastic packaging, vinyl shower walls can all be used to obtain shaping or stiffness. Hated Packaging Stiffens Costume Parts

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  • 04 of 05

    Gather and Ease to Shape Fabric in Garments and Costumes

    Gather and Ease to Shape Fabric
    Gather and Ease to Shape Fabric. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Stop a moment and think about the top of a sleeve. How did flat fabric obtain a curve and become a sleeve? The flat piece of fabric that became a sleeve was cut with a curve and eased into the straight opening on a garment. There are many areas of a garment that fabric is eased to make it fit into another piece of fabric. Easing is achieved by drawing the fibers of the fabric closer together than they were woven without creating any tucks in the fabric.
    Gathering fabric gives the fabric more...MORE fullness and poof than easing fabric can achieve. To gather fabric, rows of basting stitches are sewn in the seam allowance and then the threads are pulled to bunch the fabric. The "bunching" is done in a way that the fabric is evenly gathered. There are no tucks or folds in a gathered seam. The amount the fabric is gathered is determined by the desired effect and the type of fabric. A lightweight cotton fabric will gather much more than a heavy drapery fabric.
    Gathering is usually done to achieve having the fabric poof and stand out. If the fabric is limp and does not stand out, attaching interfacing or tulle to the seam area will help the gathering stand out.
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  • 05 of 05

    Thinking Outside the Box to Shape Fabric in Costumes

    Thinking Outside the Box
    Thinking Outside the Box. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
    Costumes are a creative endeavor. You do not have to stay with a pattern and many times a pattern is not available for the costume you have in mind. Thinking outside the box is the best way to be creative and succeed in making the costume of your dreams.
    In most case the fabric store will be your first stop to find supplies to create a costume but in some cases the fabric store is not going to have the over-accentuated sewing notion you have in mind. Let's say you want a 3" piping to...MORE create a space suit. You are not going to find 3" cording at a fabric store... but you will find foam pipe insulation at a lumber yard and you can use that foam as cording with a bit of imagination. The foam can be covered with fabric the same way you would cover your own cording to creating your own piping. It may be glues on to a helmet or other part of a costume and then painted to match.
    Wire coat hangers are often used to stiffen parts of a costume. Pipe cleaners are often sewn in to Halloween costumes to create a textured and form-able costume part.
    Sheets of foam can be covered with fabric to match an underlying outfit and give a wide flat area to a costume. A huge ax or baseball bat can be carved from a chunk of foam for a safe costume alternative that will be almost weightless.
    Dryer vent hoses can be spray painted silver to be robot arms or any other flexible round part of a costume. Small tightly wound springs for closing doors, make flexible antennas. Learning to think outside the box opens a whole new world of available possibilities.
    Once you've thought of what you want to make, consider visiting a large self-serve type of lumber yard to find the unexpected sewing notion. One word of caution though... Remember safety! Things like remembering to bend over and tape the ends of wire can keep a fun evening of trick or treating safe and prevent life changing injuries!