Which Interfacing is Better: Shape to Create Or Pellon SF101?
In the world of sewing bags and crafts, there are a lot of different types of interfacing. The most used is a medium weight woven and fusible interfacing which will be recommended for almost all patterns.
While there are several options out there, to simplify things, in New Zealand most people only think about two: Pellon SF101 Shapeflex, and Birch Shape to Create. I get asked many questions about which interfacing is better for bag making. In this article, I’ll compare these two options for you, based on both my own experience and customer feedback, so you can see which is best for your project!
What is interfacing and why do you need it for sewing bags?
Interfacing is used to add crispness or firmness to a sewing project, whether it is the collar or cuff on a shirt or the wall of a bag. It is also used to stabilize stretchy fabrics or those that fray easily, making them easier to sew with.
Interfacing may be woven with a cross grain and warp and weft like regular fabric, or non-woven. It can also be fusible or non-fusible. Because bags often have quite large areas between seams, fusible woven is a better option as it adheres to the fabric and moves with it, mimicking its look and feel. Non-fusible tends to “bag out” from the fabric and so gives little or no stability and non-woven is stiffer meaning you can lose the natural look and feel of the fabric.
Sometimes a bag needs more stability and there is a place for non-woven interfacing for bag making and one of the most used is Decovil Light and heavy. You can read about those here.
What’s the same?
- Both Birch Shape to Create and Pellon SF101 Shapeflex are fusible, medium weight woven interfacings.
- Both are 100% cotton and washable.
- Both fuse quickly and easily at wool or slightly higher temperature settings using a steam iron or a press.
So what’s the difference?
Mentions in pattern material requirements:
- Pellon SF101 Shapeflex, made in the USA and is readily available globally, for this reason it is often referred to by pattern designers in their list of materials. “Fusible interfacing: Light to medium weight fusible woven interfacing, Pellon SF101 or similar”
- Birch Shape to Create is made in Australia and is not readily available outside of Australasia, so rarely gets a look in on the instructions.
Left Birch Shape to Create and Pellon SF101 Right
- Pellon Sf101 feels slightly heavier and firmer than the shape to create when you touch it, however, a lot of this is to do with the adhesive and once fused they feel more similar, with Pellon still having a slightly firmer finish.
- Shape to Create feels softer before use, but firms up once fused. It is slightly lighter than the Pellon, but is still perfect for almost all bag making.
Unfused the Shape to Create on the left has slightly more drape than the SF101 on the right
Once fused to light weight quilting cotton they both offer similar support.
Shape to Create on the left and Pellon SF101 on the right
The two samples were cut 3" by 6" and fused to lightweight quilting cotton. After fusing the Pellon SF101 sample weighed approximately 0.3g more than the Shape to Create.
- Pellon SF101 tends to be more expensive than most of its competition globally. In New Zealand, there is currently no official supplier, so retailers have to source carefully and buy in bulk at the best prices. Shape to Create is Australian and readily available.
- Pellon SF101 is also only 20” or just over half a meter wide as opposed to Shape to Create at 90 cm wide. This means you will have to purchase a longer length of Pellon to get the job done. Patterns often tell you this: “2 ½ yds or 2.5m of Pellon SF101. (Note if using 35” or 90cm wide medium interfacing only 1 ¼ or 1.25m is required)”. The same project in New Zealand can therefore cost you around two to four times as much to make in Pellon.
When to use Pellon SF101 Shape Flex and when to use Birch Shape to Create.
Both interfacings are suitable and interchangeable for most bag making projects, and both are very easy to fuse compared to other products on the market. A big WIN factor when sewing bags with many pieces. So, a decision can often simply be made on price, or even on how you like the feel of one versus the other.
The nitty gritty itty-bitty differences where one is arguably better than the other:
Pellon SF101 is particularly good to use when you are sewing with lighter weight fabrics and cottons as your main exterior fabric. It is just a little bit firmer and so will offer more structure where a pattern does not call for a stabilizer such as Decovil fleece or foam, or where those cannot be used.
Where Shape to Create really has the advantage is for interfacing PU faux leathers. These are generally thinner than vinyl and have a slight sideways stretch. Shape to Create will eliminate the stretch, meaning that you can cut straps etc. across the width of the fabric and not end up with a stretchy strap. That little bit of lightness will also not bulk out the fabric. (Use a 1” strip on a 1” strap).
If a pattern calls for Decovil or foam to be used on top of the interfacing, there is no advantage of one over the other, except that Shape to Create is cheaper.
At the time of writing, both Pellon SF101 and Birch Shape to Create have a 5 star rating from customers on this site.
End Note: When you don’t need either.
Vinyls and waterproof canvas do not usually require interfacing, except for thinner faux leather if you need to eliminate stretch.
You also do not need to interface the linings of bags that are made from canvas, Duck or heavier cotton, except facings for zipper pockets etc. When you cut a hole in woven fabric it needs stabilizing to give it strength and make it easier to work with.
Thank you for reading and if you have any questions, just use the contact us form.