Years ago, when I first started making handbags, I tried every interfacing known to sewing-kind. I ended up throwing in the towel on regular sewing interfacing when I started getting the bags made by an industrial seamstress, and I won't even get into that. It involves rolls of fabrics and heavy machinery. The most important thing is that when you sew a bag at home you end up with a bag that feels industrially sewn. Or at least as close as you can get.
On my first go-round, I just used a woven cotton fusible interfacing. Clearly not enough. I like a bag that stands up. I had no idea what I was getting into at first.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, next I tried Timtex. I used that for a long time, but I hated every minute of it. Timtex is a thick interfacing that is fusible. It almost feels like a thin layer of foam. It makes for a very thick bag that stands on it's own, but good grief it's a pain in the neck. It tends to crunch the fabric and cause bubbles when you bend it after fusing it on. I tried putting a layer of thin interfacing under it to remedy that. It worked. A little. But sewing through Timtex alone is a pain in the keester. Try adding another layer.
Then I tried fusible fleece... which I still use a lot of. I like it because it adds body to the fabric. But... it only makes the bag stand up a little bit. Not completely. I have been known to double the layers of it though, and I often add a layer of woven cotton fusible interfacing underneath. That works quite well.
About six months into this process of trying different things, I found heavy crinoline. It works very nicely. But it's cousin, Buckram, is even better. While still thin like the crinoline, it has just a tad more stiffness. However, it is not fusible. And I don't like that it's a loose layer. So, to remedy this, I put it on top of a layer of fusible fleece, and add small, thin dots of fabric glue here and there to hold it in place. I don't recommend adding glue unless you have a layer of something in-between the fabric and the buckram or you'll see the dots of glue on the fabric and have little stiff spots.
And, I'll add another little caveat... you've got to be aware that buckram is used for millinery, purses, corsets and more. It does a big job. It makes the bag stand up, but I'm not going to tell you it's heaven to sew with. It's definitely doable, but you will need to be patient. The hardest part will be the topstitching when finishing a bag. I do have some suggestions to help there though. Here goes:
1. Make sure your bulky seams are trimmed pretty well. You can't trim too close because you don't want the seams to open, but you can get pretty close and trim some of it out.
2. When you get to the seams where it gets bulky, stop, keep your needle down and rotate the wheel by hand a couple of stitches.
3. I also suggest slightly increasing your stitch length for the top stitching.
4. If you have one, use a walking foot.
5. Needle down position. For a long time, I didn't realize that my machine had a needle down position. Meaning, when you stop sewing, the needle stays in the fabric. If your machine has that feature it is really helpful when doing that last topstitch to finish the bag. That way you can sew nice and slow, stop to make sure you are sewing straight, that the lining isn't rolling up into the way etc. Call me a goober, but when I figured that out, I thought I'd won the sewing lottery.
The bottom line on interfacing for bags: Layer it. I now use a combination of Form Flex, Fusible Fleece and Buckram.
So there you go... Oh. Did I say something about a give-away?
Just leave a comment and tell me what you'd like to do with it. You can have an additional entry, if you tweet about the give-away. Just make sure you tweet @barij so I see it.