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).
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.
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...