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I want to make a tote bag, using a canvas weight fabric for the outside and a quilting cotton for the lining. The pattern calls for "sew-in interfacing" or "hair canvas", but the fabric store I went to only had fusible in stock. Can I use a suitably thick fusible interfacing instead? Will it make a difference in the final product how the interfacing was attached?

  • If you match the weight of the interfacing called for in the pattern, you should be okay. I think it might be a good idea to fuse it to the cotton rather than the outer fabric. – aparente001 Dec 9 '17 at 19:50
  • @aparente001 cool, that's what I was hoping! Why do you suggest fusing to the cotton instead? – user812786 Dec 9 '17 at 20:13
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    I guess it's intuition -- I'm having trouble coming up with any rational reasons. I have fused interfacing to facing pieces when sewing articles of clothing and it has worked well. I think the basic idea of using interfacing is to give the fabric sandwich more body. But for clothing at least, you don't want to affect the drape of the jacket or whatever you're making, so it's better to attach the interfacing to the hidden layer. // Also, I don't know what the texture of the outer fabric is. It might be a special texture; if so, that will not be affected if you fuse to the lining fabric. – aparente001 Dec 9 '17 at 20:18
  • Is this bag coming from your imagination, or a pattern, or is it inspired by an existing tote bag? How non-floppy are you trying to get it? It's so easy for a homemade bag to end up floppier than I would like. (At least, that's been my experience.) – aparente001 Dec 9 '17 at 20:19
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    @aparente001 I don't use interfacing nearly as often as I should, so I appreciate the intuition :) It's a pattern, B5741 (adding pockets to the inside though). Actually I just finished cutting out the fabric - the inside has facings that go a few inches down on the inside, so the lining doesn't come up the whole way, and the interfacing pattern pieces are the outer pieces. So it would be much less complicated to fuse to the outside.. – user812786 Dec 9 '17 at 20:48
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Now that I've seen the pattern, I would say that for the handles to stand up by themselves, as shown in the pattern,

sketch of bag finished bag

and for the bag not to flop over, as they are wont to do, hair canvas would be much more effective than normal interfacing (whether sewn in or fusible). I've seen hair canvas used in tailored jackets (not the modern "deconstructed" kind) to give body to the shoulders, collar and lapels.

Here's how Pellon describes it:

Sew-in Hair Canvas Interfacing is an excellent tailoring product. It is a woven interfacing that is suitable for garment construction where crisp detail or firm control is desired. Use with medium to heavyweight fabric.

When I was googling hair canvas I came across a fusible kind which, if Pellon is selling it, should work similarly to the sew-in kind.

If the shop where you live doesn't sell hair canvas, you could ask them what they can recommend as a substitute, showing them the sketch and photograph of the bag. Basically, you need something appropriate for creating a crisp, tailored look.


I recommend making a full lining even if the pattern doesn't call for that. It's much nicer to rummage for some small object that's floating in the bottom of the bag if there's a nice, full, smooth lining.

I take back what I said about fusing to the lining. For this kind of bag the lining should be soft and flexible.

By the way, I believe fusible interfacing can in principle be sewn in.

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