The Best Stabilizers and Interfacings for Your Bag

Lisa Stewart bag making interfacing interfacing chart patterns pellon stabilizers structured

Bag making seems to use a lot of "s" words. We generally refer to style and structure - which includes semi-structured and slouchy! Among KPD patterns, we really don't have any slouchy bags. Patricia prefers a classic design so most of our patterns are structured and semi-structured. Some examples are:


The Colette Bowler Bag is structured with foam and Peltex


The Duffy Bag and The Laila Weekender are semi-structured using fleece and SF101. 

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In order to achieve these forms, Patricia uses different interfacings and stabilizers. While there are several dozen products to use, she consistently has had great results with a handful and recommends them on each pattern's material list. We live in the United States, so this article addresses products readily available to us. For our many international friends, we have a chart with equivalents mentioned below. 

All of our patterns call for SF101 Woven Fusible. It keeps fabric from becoming distorted, and gives quilting cotton the feel or weight of home decor fabric. It keeps pockets and zippers from sagging.

The fact that it is woven keeps the fabric feeling and acting like fabric - drape and movement. The woven grain is visible in the image above. 

One drawback to using a woven, particularly on a woven fabric, is that if you are not careful to press, rather than iron, you can distort or stretch your fabric, causing measurements to be off-kilter. We recommend that you block fuse* your fabric before cutting, insuring that your pattern pieces are accurate before you start sewing. 

*BLOCK FUSE: apply a large piece (block) of interfacing to an equal-size cut of fabric. This method has been used in the garment industry for years to eliminate fabric distortion.

A second use of SF101 or an equivalent woven is to use it in "sandwiching" heavier interfacings. This helps the heavier interfacings stay secured through the bag making and birthing processes. 

In the Penelope Crossbody Bag, Patricia's instructions are to layer it with Peltex for the flap.  

Also, in the Penelope, SF101 is layered with foam in the body of the bag. Note that the foam is cut smaller to keep the bulk out of the seam allowance. In this case, SF101 was applied to thin vinyl to give it more body.

FF78 Fusible Foam single sided was used in the construction of the Penelope. This stabilizer is not as stiff as Peltex, but your bag will still stand up.

Peltex, an ultra-firm stabilizer is probably the next most used in our bag construction. 70 Peltex is sew-in; 71F is one sided fusible; and 72F is two sided fusible. Of the three, 71F is used the most in our patterns.

The qualities of this stabilizer will make the bag very structured and stand up well. The Cici Tote Bag has Peltex in the entire body. Here is the bottom of the bag with SF101, and then Peltex cut short of the seam allowance. 808/809 has been applied where the purse feet are installed.



808 Craft-Fruse and 809 Decor-Bond are the same products. 809 comes in a wider width for decor projects. As seen above, it can be used to reinforce snaps, connectors, and purse feet. An iron-on stabilizer, it is great for places where crispness is desired, such as card slots. It is not typically used on the body of a bag.


987F Fusible Fleece is used as a stabilizer where you want a little more relaxed but not slouchy structure. It can even be sandwiched between 2 layers of SF101, as shown here in the exterior of The Claire Shoulder Bag, to create a slightly more firm bag without the bulk of foam or the stiffness of Peltex:

Each Pellon product comes with an instruction sheet in several languages for proper application. Be sure to follow those instructions for the best results.

Often a bag maker asks us for an equivalent product for Pellon as it isn't available worldwide. It can be aggravating to have to try to find a suitable product when you're ready to get busy on a new project. While each of our patterns will state the Pellon product, we want to make it easy for you to quickly access the equivalent with Vilene and Legacy. 

We now have a Bag Making Stabilizers and Interfacings chart for your convenience. We have had customers take this with them to the fabric store for help in finding what they need. The use column is very helpful in locating something to use in place of any of the products on the chart. Feel free to share, post on your blog or website, or print for your personal use. 

This chart is hyperlinked in all of our patterns to make it convenient for you to see what products are equivalent to the pattern's interfacing needs. 

Here are links to the 3 companies mentioned in the chart:

A semi-structured small Raelyn modeled by Miss Kaya

If you like this article and want more like it, check out the Learning Library. It's full of information to help you make your best bags. Also, check out our Video Library, with sew-along videos by Siah Swag and Seams Legit for ALL of our bag patterns. 


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Whether you are a beginner or an expert bag maker, we'd love to have you join our Facebook Pattern Group. Ask questions, give guidance and encouragement, share your makes, and join in the conversation.
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    Thank you so much I finally found stabilizer that is available in Toronto and I don’t have to pay shipping charges to get.
    Being new at this craft I have done so well just with your instruction sheets with the patterns alone now this article is something else. They look so good if I wanted I could sell my bags, people are raving about them.
    Thank you again.

  • Connie Wilkinson on

    Thank you for this excellent article on how you obtain the best results on styles of your bags. It definitely will help me in the future.

  • Patsy Cobb on

    Thank you, this chart is just what I needed. Clarifies the differences between all the Pellon products.

  • Claret on

    Appreciate the article and glad to have info on the individiual handbags and their suggested stabilizers.

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