How to Use Flexible Foam Interfacing

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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.

Flexible Foam Interfacing is perfect for sewing bags, totes, and containers. It makes your handmade bags hold their shape. Learn all about flexible foam interfacing.

What is Flexible Foam Interfacing?

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Flexible foam interfacing  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

fabric dollhouse

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.

makeup bag

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 here.

flat zipper bag

I also used flexible foam to make the cover for my Quilter’s Planner. The foam interfacing protects my planner but is still lightweight.

planner cover

Things to Love About Flexible Foam Interfacing

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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

soft and stable image
  • Soft and Stable 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 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

bosal foam image
  • Bosal In-R-Foam 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. 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

pellon foam interfacing
  • Pellon Flex Foam 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.

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  • Sew Sturdy: Home Organizers 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.
craftsy class image

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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  1. Great article. My go to flex foam is Bosal-in-R-Foam – I love that stuff! I made two clutch wallets for my daughters using it and I was hooked for life. I made a tote for myself with left over 2.5″ strips using it as well and after two years and machine washings, it still bounces back.

    1. I have been using foam for years now when mking bags. I use HEADLINER foam which can also be purchased from Joanns. It is not fusible, but it does come covered with a soft fabric in grey, beige, and more. I’m guessing that it is the cheapest option of all. You can buy,by,the yard or less.

  2. Thank you for always giving such quality information. I appreciate your research! I’m about to recover a car seat (they get so gross), does one product wash better than the others?

  3. Hi there – Thanks for bringing this product to everyone’s attention, the Bosal In-R Double Sided Form. I discovered it a year ago this past Christmas and used it to make a Tablet Holder/Sleeve. It made my first Tablet Holder a breeze to make and it turned out great. Love the product, and love your great ideas!

  4. Oh my! I have never heard of this product. I haven’t been sewing much lately. I do have some tote bag kits that I got from Craftsy on deep, deep sale. This would be perfect for them. I have used the fusible fleece which can be so bulky. I will definitely look into it. This makes me excited about doing those bags. Thank you!

  5. I’ve never used any of the foam products for fear of not being able to work with it well. After reading the article, I will give it a try. I used to make bags and little houses like these years ago but they lost shape after washing. I often thought of putting plastic canvas in my bags. Thanks for the info. I look forward to trying this for place sets and table runners.

  6. I have used the Bosal In R Form several times and love working with it but I had no idea that there were other options available. One of the things I hated was I always have to order it because nowhere close by carries it. Maybe they carry an alternate though. It’s worth checking into. Thanks for the info.

    1. If you can find a Hobby Lobby, they carry it. And with the 40% off coupon on their Hobby Lobby app that can save you a bundle if you plan on making several items.

  7. Thank you so very much for such an informative post. As a consumer it is very difficult to compare products except by trial and error. Even tho’ the mfrs/vendors are your affiliates I found your assessments very fair and insightful.

  8. A very good article I had not heard of this before and will definatley try it out. Would I be able to purchase this in the UK?

    1. I did a quick look on Amazon in the UK and they had the Bosal and Pellon products, plus a Vilene product. Any one of these would work. I think ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable is sold in local quilt shops in several European countries.

  9. This stuff sounds like it would be something I could use often. So glad too hear about this. Now might just get myself busy sewing which I haven’t done in way too long, have new sewing machine have barely used. Mostly because sewing room became place to put things didn’t have room for otherwise.. Room is very small on top of it. I need a storage shed of my own.
    Will see if Walmart or Hobby Lobby, Joanns carry any of products you mentioned in your post.
    Have been wanting to learn to quilt so getting some of one of these products will hopefully get me to clean out my sewing room.
    Sure glad you shared this info.
    Have wonderful Friday and weekend

  10. Love your site and have pined several of your tutorials. All of my questions have been answered and I have no fear of using this. Thank you so much.

  11. What about headlineer fabric? It is a foam also, I purchased it at Joaann fabric.It is the same stuff you find in your car interior above your head. I am trying it on a project this week. Hope it works as well. Thanks.

    1. Before there was flexible foam interfacing, people used headline fabric. With all of the fusible options, I prefer Bosal for fusible, but Soft and Stable has the best quality (in my opinion).

    1. If you are referring to foam interfacing, then yes, but you will need to use an adhesive stabilizer.

  12. I appreciate your helpful information. I have been making tote bags out of various fabrics including oilcloth, decorator, and strong plastic bags made to hold large amounts of rice or bird seed. Now someone has given me an intriguing large flowered plastic bag she brought back from travel. I haven’t ever used Bosal and bought it from your description of its usefulness and thinking it would give the plastic bag substance. I got the single-sided fusible not realizing it would require heat to adhere. The instructions suggest using the fabric’s fragility as a guide to the amount of heat, but I can’t put an iron onto plastic. I’m wondering if I should put the plastic bag on the bottom with the fusible side on top and then apply the iron to the foam side perhaps using a towel in between to protect it. Any advice on how to solve this?

    1. Hmmm. Plastic and heat don’t really go well together. You don’t have to fuse it…just use some wonder clips and stitch it down well and it will work. Soft and Stable (a similar product) isn’t fusible and I prefer it for most projects because it’s softer.

  13. Leslie, Oh my goodness! Obviously I have been away from my sewing for way too long! I used to be the person who knew about all of the new stuff and now you tell us about something I’ve never heard of! Thank you so much! I made a couple bags many years ago but didn’t like that even with stiff interfacing they were just floppy!

    A hint on storing stuff that you can roll up…When I put away wrapping paper I use empty toilet paper tubes that I wrap on each end. Sometimes it requires a little tape to keep them tighter but they never unroll now. I would probably do something similar for this foam interfacing. Maybe a strip of card stock wrapped around each end and probably with this one in the middle also.

  14. Thanks for all the info! I just started using the foam interfacing for a tea cozy project. I’m having trouble sewing two pieces of the foam together on my sewing machine though. Do you have any recommendations for settings, types of needle to use, etc?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. I’d recommend a larger needle (think jeans) and a walking foot. If you’re using a non-fusible foam interfacing you can spray it with basting spray to keep it from shifting.

  15. I have the naked flex foam. No tricot on the outside. I don’t know how to sew with it because it can’t go through the needle without getting stuck.

    Please help…
    I’m trying to use it without any other stabilizer and can’t figure out how to get it to go through the machine with sticking.

    Thank you

    1. I highly recommend you switch to either the Pellon or Soft & Stable brands with the tricot. It’s makes sewing much easier.

  16. I’m thinking about making a cross stitch tri-fold standup with this. It would be easy to fold for storage when your ready to put it away. Sounds doable, we’ll see.

    1. FF78F1 is 1-sided Fusible Foam. FF79F2 is 2-Sided Fusiblem Foam. TP971F is Fusible Thermolam Plus is an extra lofty, needled fleece with fusible adhesive on one side. It is great for craft, home decorating, and quilting projects.

  17. Thank you for all this info! I wish i had seen this before i purchased the Pellon 1-sided fusible. I used fusible web on the other side to adhere the foam to my fabric. I just finished sewing–and the foam looks all wrinkled and bubbly. Plus the smell that the now-fused fusible foam gave off was horrendous. The house reeks! If it weren’t for your tips–I’d have sworn off sewing with foam. I will absolutely try your suggestions. I want future projects to look like your pictures here: smooth and professional!

  18. Awesome article!
    Thanks for sharing your expertise!! Would love to get the pattern for the cute little red, white & blue bag.

  19. Walking foot I think is essential. I am going to try some painters tape on the underside of my walking foot. Hope that helps with the drag. Great article!

  20. Hi Leslie. I am making a bag. I made seams for inserting contrasting piping on front of the bag so it is actually a center square with two strips on each side. I basted the piping in place and then basted the seams so it wouldn’t crawl on me. My thought was to do the seam with the piping first, press it flat then iron the fusible flex foam over the entire piece. I thought it would be less bulky at the seams with the piping on. Do you think this will work out well? I was thinking I could insert a skinny strip of Stitch Witchery under the seam allowances on each side of the seam so it will adhere to the seams well or don’t you think that would be necessary? I’m stalled now because I want it to be perfect for my mom.

  21. Interesting article. I don’t know what product I’m looking for and would appreciate any further help. I am making an evil queen costume with standing collar for my daughter. Looking for structural interface material of some sort. It needs to retain a rigid shape and stand straight up but I also need it to be quite thin, flexible, washable by hand, and comfy for a child to wear. A bonus if it could also be used as sort of fake boning to somewhat stiffen a bodice without making it too rigid or restrictive for a dance routine and light gymnastics. Is one of these products what I need? Thank you!

  22. Thank you for explaining the differences between the foam interfacing products.
    I thought I could use it to make a doll bassinet but I could only find the Pellon sew in Flex foam. I am leary of having really thick seam allowances after sewing all the sections together. Can I reduce the Flex-foam in the seam allowances and use a generic qult-basting adhesive spray to hold the flex-foam in place? The quilt basting spray can reccomends it be used on cotton. Do you know if this adhesive will cause the tricot covering or the flex-foam core to disintegrate over time? I also have a can of Sulky adhesive spray that apparently disappears after 72 hours but I don’t know if the flex-foam will shift or buckle within the the bassinet covering after being played with.
    Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I’ve used spray adhesive on foam interfacing that didn’t have a fusible side. It worked fine – but it also had sufficient quilting to hold the foam in place. I recommend something like 4″ diamond quilting, which would look great. Also, you can zigzag those edges – it really helps when handling.

  23. Thank you for your quick reply! I appreciate your tips and will try them! I never thought of using a diamond design for the quilting and I agree that it will be cute 🙂

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