Have you ever wondered how those lovely Vera Bradley bags hold their shape but are still lightweight? The beautiful quilted fabrics always catch my eye, but it’s the the feather-weight bag structure that makes me want to part with my money.
Well, I think I know the secret and I’m going to share it with you today. Plus, I’m going to show you ways to get creative with an amazing product that will change the way you sew and craft. Soon, you’ll be making bags, Tiny Town Totes, and so much more using flexible foam interfacing.
What is Flexible Foam Interfacing?
Flexible foam interfacing (affiliate) is this genius product that combines foam, fusibility, and feather-weightness into an interfacing for making bags, totes, and a whole lot of other things.
The product consists of a lightweight foam sandwiched between two layers of a soft, ultra-thin tricot fabric. Most flexible foam interfacings are 100% polyester which means they’re washable, won’t shrink, and will hold up for a long time. Among the manufacturers, there are a variety of sew-in and fusible options.
One of the true benefits to using flexible foam interfacing is its ability to be squished in every direction and then immediately regain its shape once released. When applied to something simple like a zipper bag ~ well, it’s a whole new sewing world.
Perfect for Tiny Town Totes and Bags
What makes foam interfacing ideal for sewing things like bags and the Tiny Town Tote is its ability to keep its shape. Most bags I would want to make need to have some sort of structure to keep them from flopping over. For a while I used fusible fleece inside bags, but one of the disadvantages to fusible fleece was the way it would occasionally crinkle when fused to fabric. Its bulky nature always made it hard for me to maneuver through my machine, too.
That’s not the case with flexible foam interfacing. It can be scrunched, squished, and crushed and will bounce right back. When you stand the bag upright, it holds its shape.
Flexible foam interfacing is made for bags, fabric baskets, or Tiny Town Totes that need to stand on their own. A perfect example is this cosmetics bag. Normally, I would have to stuff this bag to stage it for a photo. That’s not the case with flexible foam interfacing. The bag is empty and sitting on its own. Imagine how practical this is for travel. You can squish it up to fit into a suitcase and then the bag bounces right back to its shape when you set it on a counter.
Overall, flexible foam interfacing gives your bag and tote projects a more professional finish.
For Bags and More
Flexible foam interfacing also works great on small quilted projects such as this flat zipper bag. It doesn’t need to stand up, but the foam interfacing makes it soft and extremely lightweight. This bag is one of my favorites for carrying supplies to a class because it folds and squishes for travel, then bounces back to its shape as soon as I take it out to use. If you want to make this simple bag, the pattern is available at Fat Quarter Shop.
I also used flexible foam to make the cover for my Quilter’s Planner with this pattern from ByAnnie.com. The foam interfacing protects my planner but is still lightweight. FYI – this pattern isn’t only for making planner covers. There are notebook and binder options, making it an ideal gift. You could even do some fancy quilting on the cover to make it personal.
Things to Love About Flexible Foam Interfacing
Flexible foam interfacing is one of those game-changer products that you’ll love using. There are only a few brands of flexible foam interfacing on the market so I’m breaking them down by their best features so you can choose what works best for your next project. They all have a few different features that make them suitable to different projects.
- Soft and Stable* (affiliate) is my favorite when it comes to sewing bags. It has this silky feel to it that I love, and it never feels stiff. This product will give your bag projects a professional look and feel. If I were going to invest time in making a nice bag, this would be my first choice. Soft and Stable is known for its durability which is why I think it’s ideal for things like makeup/toiletry bags, travel totes, or a planner cover.
- Soft and Stable is available in both white and black. I’ve only used the white, but the black would definitely be an asset if I were quilting a dark colored bag.
- I consider Soft and Stable my first choice for soft bags that you wouldn’t want to be too stiff or structured but still hold their shape. It’s also ideal for things like tablet/binder covers and placemats.
- Soft and Stable does not come with a fusible option, which means it must be sewn into the project. While I love using fusible flexible foam interfacing, I don’t see this as a problem because Soft and Stable sews in so well. I have a quick, inexpensive solution to this dilemma. I add a little bit of this particular glue stick (affiliate) to my fabric and fuse it to the foam interfacing with a hot, dry iron. It stays in place long enough for me to sew it into the project.
- Bosal In-R-Foam* (affiliate) is another excellent product that comes with several options: sew in, one-sided fusible, or two-sided fusible. While Soft and Stable has a little drape to it, this product has a denser structure. Its sturdy nature tends to hold a shape better, which makes it ideal for larger bags, fabric baskets, Tiny Town Totes, and anything that needs to stand on its own.
- I love that this product comes in a variety of fusible options. Personally, I prefer a one-sided fusible foam interfacing, but I can see a few possibilities for occasionally needing it to be two-sided fusible.
- Bosal is available in many options* including both black and white foam interfacing, and a few design shapes such as hexagons* and a heart/leaf* (*affiliates). By comparison, this product is slightly more expensive by a few cents. That said, I wouldn’t let a small sum put you off. This is my product of choice for larger bag projects, free-standing fabric baskets, and the Tiny Town Tote because it firmly holds its shape, is fusible, and still has a silky feel to it.
- Pellon Flex Foam* (*affiliate) comes in several options including sew in, one-sided fusible, or two-sided fusible.
- It is, by far, the least expensive and easiest to obtain. Pellon Flex Foam can be purchased by the yard at Joann’s using a coupon which makes it ideal for people with limited budgets and no storage space.
- Of the three products, this one is the thickest and somewhat lacks that soft, silky feel you get with Soft and Stable or Bosal In-R-Foam. That said, I used a ton of this product when making sample Tiny Town Totes and it handled as well as the other two. If thickness doesn’t matter in your project, then this might be a good option because of price and availability.
- I like this product for everyday bags, backpacks, and things that might get a lot of use such as placemats or tablet/binder covers. It’s easy to find and economical enough to be used for making gifts.
- Storing can be an issue if you purchase by the yard because it doesn’t really fold flat. I tried rolling it up, but it doesn’t stay that way for long either. Personally, I’ve been buying what I need for a project so I don’t have to take up valuable storage space.
Learn More About Flexible Foam Interfacing
Craftsy has a great class using flexible foam interfacing. I’ve reviewed the class and feel it will give you better understanding on how to best use this product.
- Sew Sturdy: Home Organizers (affiliate) is a great class that will teach you how to sew with flexible foam interfacing. It’s taught by Annie Unrein who first introduced us to this product and then showed all the different ways it can be used.
Where flexible foam interfacing is concerned, there is no need to be afraid. It’s easy to use and very forgiving when mistakes are made. I suggest you start off by making something simple like a quilted placemat and watch your creativity take off.
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