The Swatch Test & Recommended Interfacings




As mentioned, yesterday I bought three metres of black wool crepe and black/white polka dot satin. Claire of Sew Incidentally and I pondered whether or not the crepe really was wool (as the Man Outside Sainsburys claimed) or polyester. So I decided to do a swatch test of both fabrics, and threw in a third fabric I’m currently working with.

Each swatch was cut to 10x10cm or thereabouts and went in a 40 degree wash with another load. I try to wash at 30 degrees, but sometimes forget that I’m meant to be saving the planet, so always like to test my fabrics at the temperature they might risk should I be in a rush and/or just fancy putting things through on a warmer cycle.

My crepe shrunk by a good centimetre, and felted. So maybe it is wool, after all. We should be less cynical! And now I know to take my final make to the dry cleaners. The swatch test is a really good idea (and one I often forget!) if you’re a bit nervous about putting all your lovely new fabric through the washing machine.

In other news, I’ve ordered some fabulous interfacing from English Couture. I really, really recommend quality when it comes to anything like an interlining or interfacing. Cheap as chips is not always the best way – and you know how much it pains me to write that! Here’s some fine fusible interfacing that they describe as ‘the closest thing to fusible organza’. It is soooo soft and full of drape:


And here’s a fusible superweight in black, glued side facing camera:


Another good UK source for interlinings and interfacings is MacCulloch & Wallis. Do you know any more?

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20 Responses to The Swatch Test & Recommended Interfacings

  1. Kathi Giumentaro says:

    You can also do a burn test on wool. It will self extinguish and leave behind a soft ash.

  2. Dixie says:

    Wool also has that burning hair smell when you burn it. And if you immerse a small piece in chlorine bleach and leave it for a couple of hours, the wool will disintegrate. That’s a good way to determine if there is a synthetic blended with it. The synthetic will stay behind, but the fabric will be very thin because the wool is gone.
    Your interlining looks wonderful. I’m not in the UK, so no further suggestions from me.

  3. Here’s a burn test chart to reference 🙂 to check content of fabric –

  4. Ann says:

    Great minds and all 😉 I was going to suggest the burn-test as well

  5. Lucy says:

    re. interfacing: Gill Arnold. They give structure and firmness whilst maintining drape. Absolutely fantastic – couldn’t recommend highly enough!

    (no affiliation etc. etc.)

  6. Tania says:

    I was going to say burn baby burn too 😉
    I was in a roll-end shop last month and the owner did it for me as she was trying to tell my disbelieving eyes that a glossy jersey was non-synthetic. (She was right though! So I bought it…)

    But it looks like you lost quite a bit of colour on your swatches? Or is that just photography? Maybe they need a gentler, colour-saving washing powder if they have?

    • Yes, I noticed that after blogging! It’s either a) photographing at different times of day, b) the second swatches still being damp out of the wash, or c) colour loss! I’ll have to go and check against the main fabric. Those polka dots look bigger, too! Huh?! I do loathe my washing machine, I’m happy to admit that. I bought it too hastily.

  7. Adrienne says:

    Oooo, thanks for the interlining tips! That something that never occurred to me — quality in interlining. I always figured, if it’s not visible, it doesn’t really matter? But I’m curious: What could go wrong with cheap interlining?

  8. Thanks to share about interlining. It is worth to check.

  9. Anne W says:

    Gill Arnold’s interfacings are the best. I haven’t used anything else since first trying them out. You can order online, or see her at the NEC in March for Sewing For Pleasure. She’s a lovely lady. Also, her 2 day speed tailoring course is a must!

  10. suth2 says:

    I am so enjoying your blog as I learn so much each time I visit.

  11. katlane12 says:

    I would never think to do this but it is such a great idea! I rarely wash fabric before I sew and it has come back to bite me a few times.

  12. rachel says:

    I have never interlined. Perhaps because I live in such a warm climate (even our winters would be warm by your standards). I’ve underlined in a lining fabric or a soft cotton lawn but only due to the sheerness of the fabric.
    Thank you also for your mention in your Stitch and Witter interview – it made my day!

  13. Thanks for interlining sources advice. I bought mine from the US ( and I find it very good quality. But it’s good to have some European shops at hand

  14. i never really think about interfacing/ interlining quality. good tips! i am going to learn how to do burn tests, definitely!

  15. Great advice throughout – thanks!

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