Foam is one of the most affordable yet excellent materials that can give structure to a sewing project without adding weight to it. It is a versatile material that you can use to replace common interfacing material and is an excellent material for making bags and totes that are strong enough to protect your fragile items.
You can sew foam easily together using a strong needle by basting using straight or zigzag stitches.
Foam can be sewn together but is definitely a different experience than just sewing two fabrics together because of its unique texture and thickness.
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What is the purpose of sew foam?
Sew foam is a material you can use to sew things like bags and totes to keep their shape. It is ideal for sewing projects that need foam paddings like quilting, upholstery, and other various applications.
Sew foam is made of high-quality polyurethane foam, which usually comes in ¼-inch or ½-inch thicknesses. This thin foam, commonly backed with fabric, is also called scrim foam, quilting foam, flexible foam interfacing, etc.
It is ideal for sewing purses or quilted bags because the foam has the right thickness to be flexible and can be shaped easily. You can also use it for automotive seat padding, furniture wadding, and many more.
Some sew foam can also come as a lightweight foam sandwiched in two layers of soft, tricot fabrics. The most flexible sew foam interfacing you can find is made of 100% polyester, which is washable, shrink-free, and will hold up for a long time. Flexible foam is available in sew-in or fusible options.
The fabric backing on most of the sew foam prevents the thread from being pulled from the foam as you stitch. The thread needs something that it can lock into, thus the fabric.
Bags and totes are the most common sewing projects that use flexible foam interfacing. One of the best things about the foam interfacing that benefits these projects is its ability to be squished in different directions but still return to its original shape once released.
Foam also adds strength and structure to the fabric despite being soft and flexible at the same time.
Sewists who have been using sew foam instead of the regular interfacing have favorite brands in the following:
- Pellon Flex-Foam
- Bosal In-R-Foam
- Soft and Stable ByAnnie
The Pellon Flex-Foam is a lightweight, easy-to-handle sew foam made of 100% Polyester fabric and 100% Polyurethane on the inside. The foam stabilizer comes in different options, including sew-in, fusible on one side, or fusible on both sides.
The Pellon Flex-Foam is very affordable and easy to find. It is an excellent material to make items you use daily like backpacks, placemats, or tablet covers. You can buy the Pellon Flex Foam online because it is available on Amazon and most online craft and sewing shops.
The Bosal In-R-Foam is a soft and formidable fusible foam stabilizer. It is made of 100% Polyester. This material is easy to stitch and is needle-friendly. It also comes in various fusible options, including one-sided fusible foam, two-sided fusible foam, or sew-in.
One advantage of the Bosal In-R-Foam is its sturdy and dense structure which makes it hold shape better. It is an excellent option when making large items that stand on their own, like large bags or huge fabric baskets.
This flexible foam brand is also available in different shapes like hearts, ovals, squares, or hexagons that you may specifically need for a sewing project.
Although it is a bit more expensive than the other foam interfacing, it has a silky feel to it which may be a great quality for a certain project in mind. You can find the different options of Bosal In-R-Foam on Amazon.
The name says it all. This material is of superior quality and may have all the characteristics of the ideal interfacing that you are looking for. It is soft, comfortable, lightweight, easy to sew and has great stability.
A sewing project using the Soft and Stable flexible foam gives a lasting impression of a professional finish. It is known for its durability, so it is the preferred brand when making items like a travel planner cover, toiletry bag, or travel make-up bag.
It comes in both black and white, great options for when you are making a dark-colored or a light-colored bag.
Soft and Stable ByAnnie only come as sew-in interfacing, meaning there are no fusible options, and it needs to be sewn on your fabric. However, it is still very easy to use and sewn on.
Check out this excellent interfacing material, Soft and Stable ByAnnie on Amazon.
These are only three of the tried and tested flexible foam brands in the market today. Each one has its own finest features, so you have the option to pick one which would give the most benefit for your sewing project.
Can you sew into foam?
You can sew it into foam. It may not be as straightforward as sewing a regular fabric because foam has a certain thickness and physical characteristics.
Sew foam or flexible foam interfacing usually has a net-like fabric or t-shirt backing on one side while the other side has the foam exposed. Sometimes the foam is sandwiched between two layers of thin fabric, which makes it easier to sew.
Read on for some tips and tricks on how you can sew into the foam easily.
- If your foam does not have fabric on both sides, you can still effectively sew on it. Place wax paper on the top and bottom of the foam you are sewing, then sew slowly.
The wax paper at the bottom prevents the feed dogs from catching on the foam. It would also help if you could raise the pressure foot so you can easily feed the foam through the machine.
- You can also simply hand-sew foam. Just make sure that your stitches are close together. It would be best to use a regular cloth thread than a thick cord to avoid stitches tearing through the foam.
- When sewing into foam, remember to use a strong needle. Foam is thick and springy and may cause the regular machine needle to break easily. It would be best to use the needle designed for thick fabrics like a denim needle.
- The sew foam is positioned on the wrong side of the fabric. If your foam has a fabric backing, you must place the exposed foam on the wrong side of the fabric. The fabric backing will help the thread to catch on the foam as you sew.
How do you sew foam into fabric?
Sewing foam into fabric can be an easy process if you follow the right steps and use the proper materials. The process you use to sew foam into fabric is called basting. You can use either straight stitches or zigzag stitches for basting your foam into the fabric.
If you have an outer fabric and a lining, choose first the material you would best sew the foam into. If your outer fabric is thick, like leather or vinyl, it would be best to sew the foam into the lining to prevent having bulky seams on the already thick outer fabric.
Basting with Straight Stitch
- Cut your foam and fabric according to your desired size.
- Set your stitch length to 4.5 to 5.0mm on your sewing machine.
- Use a strong needle or any strong needle that can handle the thickness of your sew foam.
- Place your fabric with the wrong side down facing the foam-side of the sew foam.
- Stitch with a seam allowance a bit smaller than the sew allowance you set for your project.
For example, if your seam allowance is at 1cm, baste at 0.8cm.
- The sew foam can cause your seam allowance to get bulky. You can reduce the thickness of your seam allowance by cutting the foam near the basting stitch. Make sure not to cut the fabric.
Basting with Zigzag Stitch
- When using the zigzag stitch, you can baste using the sewing machine or the serger.
- Set first your zigzag stitch to a small length and a large width. A large zigzag stitch width will help flatten the foam in the seam allowance.
- Similar to the straight stitch, the stitch width must be less than the seam allowance. If your seam allowance is 1cm, set a stitch width of 0.7cm.
- Sew zigzag stitches at the seam allowance. The foam at the seam allowance is flattened by the zigzag stitches.
You can test the two basting methods to help you decide which one will work best for your sewing projects. Both of them are effective in sewing foam on fabric, but one may have the advantage over the other in terms of aesthetic value or stability that you are trying to achieve.
Can you sew upholstery foam?
Yes, you can sew upholstery foam. All you need is your intermediate sewing skills, a few hours of your day, the fabric of your choice, and your desired foam thickness.
You have an advantage when you sew your upholstery foam. You can choose the fabric that would match the theme of your space and decide on the thickness of the foam for your furniture.
Sew foam is the common material used to pad seat arms and backs of furniture. It usually comes in half-inch or quarter-inch thicknesses with t-shirt backing on one side for ease of pleating and added durability.
Depending on the project you are making, you have to shape and cut your upholstery foam according to the specific shape you need, be it for the back of a chair, the armrests, or a headboard.
You can use a pair of scissors or a craft knife, although the edge you might produce is uneven. The best tool to use for cutting upholstery foam is an electric knife.
Measure and shape your upholstery foam before cutting using an electric knife. After cutting the upholstery foam pieces, you can then measure and cut your chosen fabric. When all parts have been measured and cut, you can start sewing your upholstery foam.
If you are using a thick fabric as a cover for your furniture, make sure to use a strong needle (size 100) for your sewing machine. Remember that you are going to sew on multiple layers of materials.
Make sure that the fabric backing of your upholstery foam is faced down so you can feed both fabric and foam easily through the machine. Straighten your fabric over the foam once in a while to make sure that it is evenly spread through the foam area.