Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Comparing Vilene and Pellon Interfacings / Interlinings

Anyone who knows my work will know that I'm an unashamed interfacings geek.
I can (and do) bang on at about interfacings at great length and in an excited manner, and have a particular squeal of delight, reserved for those "Eureka" moments when I discover something new that can be achieved with the right choice of interfacing.
(Ok, I may be exaggerating about the squeal being exclusive to interfacing... I start throwing around hyperbole when I get excited...)
The tricky thing is, that when I recommend an interfacing in a pattern or book project, it's because the properties of that particular interfacing determines the look of the finished project ... but not all of the interfacings that I use are available worldwide (particularly in the USA).  And to complicate matters further, the products that are available as substitutes in other parts of the world (read: USA) are not necessarily available to me here, in Australia.  It's hard to know what to recommend when I don't know what the equivalents are.
Of course, there are online resources with substitution charts, but the little that I know is enough to know that these charts are not always reliable, for my purposes (for example, I saw Peltex 71 as a substitute for Vilene S520.  Peltex is simply not going to work for many of the uses that I have for Vilene S520). 
In a desperate attempt to give myself an International Interfacings Education (so that I can write an international sewing book), I begged the lovely folks at Pellon to send me samples of what they thought would be substitutes for the Vilene products that I use.  Bless them, they sent this box full.... and I've been playing with it for a couple of weeks.
So.. what did I discover?
I use three different weights of woven, fusible interfacing, from a soft collaring weight (medium-heavy)  through to a voile weight (medium-light).  Of course, there are other weights of woven interfacing available here - heavier and lighter - but these are the three that suit my needs for most things.
Pellon SF 101 (Shapeflex) comes in somewhere in the middle - like our medium weight.  It's a lovely interfacing and is a good all-rounder for bag-making.  If I suggest using "medium-heavy interfacing", you could probably get away with using Shapeflex, but if you have access to anything a smidge denser, I'd give that a go.  If I suggest using "medium-light interfacing", I'm referring to something about half the weight of Shapeflex (more gauze-like).
I use Vilene H630 and Vilene H640 Fleece/Wadding all of the time, to create structure in bags and purses.  They're lightweight, fusible and create loft without too much density (which makes them easy on the sewing machine needles), and they can be used in conjunction with other interfacings (read more about that here).

Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece is the recommended substitute for H630, but I think that it's more suitable as a substitute for H640.  It's denser (more felt-like) than both of  the Vilene fleece/wadding products, and the effect on the fabric is much heavier.  It creates much more structure (and thickness) than the light "oomph" that H630 gives to fabric.

You can see the difference a bit more clearly in profile... That's the Pellon fleece between the H640 (back) and H630 (front).

 I'm not sure what to suggest to use as a substiute for  H630 (light fusible fleece).  I'd welcome any suggestions from those of you in the USA (or other non-Vilene H630 territories), if you've found something to do the trick.

Fast2Fuse, Peltex and TimTex are all stiff, compressed-fibre interfacings, of diffferent densities and fusible properties.  Below, we have Heavyweight Fast2Fuse at front, TimTex in the middle and Peltex 71 at the back.
 Fast2Fuse comes in a Regular weight and Heavy weight.  I tend to use the Regular weight on the outside of bags and purses that I want stiffened (often with a layer of H630 between the fabric and the Fast2Fuse), and it's also handy for zipper tabs and some of the fancy new (secret squirrel) things I'm currently working on.  I use the heavy-weight when I want real box-like structure, or stiff bag bases.

I've done a comparison of Fast2Fuse and Peltex before.  For bag bases, Peltex is perfectly interchangeable with Fast2Fuse.  For finer work, I'd seek out Fast2Fuse if I could, and opt for Peltex if that's all I could find (2nd choice).  Peltex has the advantage of being available in both double-sided and single-sided fusible, as well as non-fusible.  Fast2Fuse is double-sided, which isn't always convenient.  Swings and roundabouts...

TimTex is about as thick as Peltex, but slightly denser (crisper?) and not fusible.  You can use it with fusible webbing (Vliesofix/wonderUnder/Bondaweb/Heat'nBond/Steam-a-Seam) to fuse it to fabric, or wrap it in fusible interfacing to make bag bases.

You can see the different densities and thicknesses in the profile shot, below.

Vilene S520 is an easy one.  It's almose identical to Pellon Deco-Fuse

Vilene S320 is one of my most-used interfacings, and unfortunately, I can't find an exact substitute for it. 

I love that the embossed surface  of Vilene S320 breaks that 'cardboard' surface effect that most non-wovens have, but apart from that property, it can be substituted with Pellon Craft Fuse.  Like S320, Craft Fuse fuses at low temperature and stays stable, and it gives about the same amount of support to the fabric, and it can be used in conjunction with fusible fleece.

I've only listed Vilene and Pellon products.... but there are other brands out there, and I don't have access to all that are on the shelves in the USA or Europe.

I'd like to open up the floor to any of you who'd like to offer any other suggestions. If you have anything that you feel might be useful, please feel fre to share it in the comment box below...


Kate said...

LOVE this post, thanks Nikki - lots of my questions have been answered!

WeLoveSewing said...

HI Nikki! Have been reading your blog for a long time. I live in the Philippines and worked in the garment export industry here for many years. We always used Vilene made by Freudenberg for the garments for the European market and I had always understood that Pellon was just the brand name used in the US. A quick Google search did not reveal a lot of information but it does seem that Freudenberg own both the Vilene and Pellon brand name. If that is true, then you would think that somewhere in the world (maybe the Fruedenberg head office in Weinheim Germany?), someone would be able to tell you what the equivalent qualities are from the different brands? That said, I can't get any decent fusible interlining here for the home sewer (just cheap rubbish which does not stick well or bubbles) and would love it if one of the brands would sell retail here! Maybe if I begged them they would also send me some samples for my personal use!

A Peppermint Penguin said...

an entire box of interfacing to play with - you must have squee'd off the charts!

You are my kinda geek ;-)

Γεωργία( said...

wow!Great,helpful post!

Kathy P said...

Great post Nikki! This is exactly the information I've been waiting for. It's hard to pick substitutes for interfacings I've never seen, so this is a big help to us in the US. I'm bookmarking this post for future reference. Thanks so much!

Katy Cameron said...

Oh man, I want your post! It was interesting because I've pattern tested for a friend in the US, and discovered when I went over this last October that some of my guesses, and in fact comparison charts I'd seen, were quite wildly wrong! I use the H640 a lot on my bags, so when 'fusible fleece' was mentioned in her patterns that's what I used, and then for one of the bags I couldn't do the top stitching because it ended up 8 layers thick! Interestingly though, I haven't seen some of your Vilene here, but I think that's because the local fabric shops tend to stock the papery kind and the medium weight woven, plus, occasionally, the S520

Breakfast Jo said...

Laying in bed this morning and picked up my phone to check FB. What do l go straight to? Yep, your blog on interfacings!!! Soooo interesting particularly as l am about to order interfacing. my husband is looking at me like l'm nuts. Thanks for such an informative blog on this subject. F2F is much dearer than Peltex and so l use the later. Will do a price comparison on S320 now. Geeks unite!!

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

This post is such a fabulous resource Nikki.
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge so generously!

I've pinned this, (with full credit naturally) for reference, for my international pattern writing.

Kirrily said...

Completely off topic...I have just finished making my first You Sew Girl A-Line skirt. You are one clever woman and have just made my life immeasurably more wonderful!

Your instructions, photos, tips and recommendations...Wow! If this blog post shows your excitement about interfacings, your skirt pattern has made me excited about presser feet for my sewing machine! Why did nobody tell me in my 30 years of sewing how handy they could all be?

Anyway - love the skirt and loved the way it basically sewed itself. I'm set to cut out another in the next few days.

Kicki G, Sweden said...

I cannot praise Vilene Decovil (from Freudenberg) enough. Gives fabric a leatherlike feel which is absolutely fabulous. Bags look super professional! Firm structure but without the cardboard structure.Can be a bit tricky to sew with, but a strong needle and a strong sewing machine do the trick.

~ Kim ~ said...

I enjoyed this post. I have bought the S320 from you and I really like using it. I'm planning to make a few bags so this is going to be really useful. It would be great if there was a chart comparison...

Tania said...

You are Queen of the Interfacing Geeks. Though we knew that already - and we all love you for it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post!! I never found an interfacing that I really liked... until reading your post. I'm in the United States so Vilene S320 & S520 are difficult to get my hands on. I was able to order it internationally. I was so thrilled to try S320 on my latest bag, I'm donating to my son's baseball team fundraiser. I love this Vilene product. It is well worth the wait for it to arrive.
~ Linda

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post!! All the different interfacing numbers were getting confusing and I never had a favorite. After reading this post I ordered Vilene S320 and used it for a bag I'm donating to my son's baseball team fundraiser. I'm in the United States, so I had to order it internationally. It was well worth the wait. I've just ordered more and some Vilene S520. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post!! All the different interfacing numbers were getting confusing and I never had a favorite. After reading this post I ordered Vilene S320 and used it for a bag I'm donating to my son's baseball team fundraiser. I'm in the United States, so I had to order it internationally. It was well worth the wait. I've just ordered more and some Vilene S520. Thanks!!

apiecefullife said...

Great post and so much work.
I used to use a great pellon that I can no longer get. It was denser but softer than the usual varieties. Do you have time for a question?
Which one would you use for quilts made with thicker fabrics so I want a thinner batting than the usual wadding?

Lou said...

Hi, I've just found your post when looking up how to figure out which interfacing to use! I've bought the Noodle head 241 pattern and it suggests using pellon sf101. I've never used interfacing so I have no idea what the differences are really. I spoke to the ladies at spotlight who were no help, rude and patronising! Are you able to suggest a type of interfacing that would substitute for the sf 101?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Patchwork Mummy said...

Hi, I was wondering if you coule possibly help me with a comparision problem I am having. I live in the UK and I pattern test for a friend in the USA. Now the pattern calls for Thermolan Plus which is not avilable in the UK and I wondered if you know of an alternative made by Vilene or something else entirely. I'm not really great with interfacing. It is a bit new to me but try as I might I'm drawing a complete blank. Thank you in advance. Jen :-)

dutchcomfort said...

Great post thank you! I can only buy Vilene or vlieseline here and you have clarified a lot!