Updated on September 13, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
If you are a beginner to sewing and you do not want to sew anything complicated, you may wonder –
Why do you need facings ? Why can’t I just turn under the edges and be done with it?
Well, be a beginner sewer no more! Enter the facings and a professional look to your home sewn garments.
For me there is no alternative to using facings for my necklines and armholes for sleeveless bodices, unless I am using the dainty shell edge stitch or the bias binding. I also use facings sometimes on bottom hems and sleeve hems. It is also used to finish the plackets or openings.
The advantage of using facing to finish the edges is that, the raw edges of the fabric will be well hidden inside the fold of the facing. The professional touch this gives to your edges is something – escape from the ‘home made tag’ yay. (Checkout other 15 dress making tips that can make your home made garments look wow)
If you have made the pattern for your dress, you can easily make these facings following the instructions given below. Even in case you buy a pattern and you have to make some adjustments to the neckline or armhole you can make fresh facing pieces yourself.
Facings are usually cut as a separate piece and then stitched to the main garment but sometimes they are cut as an extension of the main garment piece.There are 4 ways of making and stitching a facing
Some important things to consider when making a facing are
- The facing should be cut on the same grain as the main garment, so that they look the same and does not hang different from each other.
- The cloth used for the lining should preferably be lighter than the main garment. You can use the same cloth. But it should never be heavier than the main garment fabric. You do not need bulkiness inside your garment projecting outside.
- Before sewing the facing to the garment make sure to finish the edges . I prefer a zigzag stitch or overcast stitch over the edges to prevent fraying of thread
- I always apply a light weight ( paper) Iron on interfacing to the facing. This gives a structure to the cloth.
- If you have a pattern with a opening or zipper finish those before sewing the facings
Why is it necessary to interface – The interfacing is needed to prevent stretching and sagging of the neckline or sleeves. It also gives a firmness and structure to the fabric of the main garment. Interfacing is to be applied to the wrong side of the facing piece. Ensure that the interfacing used matches the weight of the fabric used.
In my case I mostly use a matching lining piece or the same fabric of the main garment to sew the facing and use a very thin lightweight paper iron on interfacing. It is pressed into the facing piece with a hot iron. If you can get it, choose a dark interfacing for dark colors.
1. Shaped Facing
You can find a similar but slightly different method to sew a neckline with facing in this post – How to sew a neckline with facing here.
How to make a pattern for the facing
- Make a paper pattern first – Take a 10″ by 10″ paper. Keep the bodice pattern over a paper. Keep a copy paper in between. Keep pattern weights if you want, so that it does not shift.
- With a pencil, mark the neckline, shoulder slope, center seam point. You have to add 2.5 inch outside of it .
- Take off the pattern. From the top mark exactly 2.5 inch down . Join in a curve exactly matching the curve of the neckline. Cut away through the drawn lines. You have the facing pattern.
- Fabric facing piece – Cut out the fabric for the bodice.Everything except the neckline should be cut including the shoulder slope. Make sure that you have not cut out the neckline. Give a notch in the center seam point.
- Interface the ‘facing fabric piece’. I usually interface a rectangular block of fabric and then mark the facing pattern on it and then cut it out.
- Mark the neckline clearly on the wrong side of the facing ( interfaced part)
Another alternative is to cut out the facing piece before sewing it on. In this case, you will have to account for the seam allowance.
How to sew a shaped facing to the main garment
- Keep the facing on top of the main garment right sides together.The neckline marked on the interfaced part of facing should be on top facing you. Pin in place.
- Stitch the facing to the garment along the neckline.
- Cut out the inside part of the neckline with a small seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance of the facing by half. Clip the seam allowance with a thread snip every 1/2 inch.
- Press the seam allowance towards the facing
- Understitch keeping the facing and the seam allowance together. Understitching is a necesasry part of sewing the facings as it will roll inside smoothly if you understitch.
(Another method suggests joining the Shoulder seams before sewing the facing. But I prefer to join the shoulder seams later.)
In case you have a one piece facing for armhole and neckline for a sleeveless bodice it will be impossible to understitch all the seams. Do it wherever you can.
- Turn the facing to the other side; you have your shaped facing
Stitch a close slit neckline with facing
Keep it on top of the front bodice ( rightside up) Pin in place. Stitch around the neck and on the slanted lines.
Cut down the center line. Make sharp cut till the last point being careful not to cut any of the stitches.
Turn the facing rightside out. Cut the facing curved inside matching the neckline. Press in place. Use small tacking stitches to keep the facing inside
Making facing with interfacing without bulk on seams
A slightly different method of sewing a facing with the interfacing cut shaped so that there is no bulk in the neckline seam is described in the post on making an Aline dress
(How to Join the back and front bodice patterns with facings in a seamless way)
Keep both the front and back bodice pattern right side together aligning the facings also extended to one side as shown in the picture below.
This pictures are from my Salwar Kameez / Kurta sewing tutorial.
Turn both the facings to the front side bodice. Pin in place. Ensure that seam lines are aligned and touching. Stitch along the shoulder line with a half inch seam allowance. Turn the whole thing right side out. You have the beautiful facing attached with the inside looking as good as the outside.
2. Extended Facing / Self facing
Extended facing refers to the facing which is folded part of the main garment to finish the edges. It is usually used in the center seam openings in the back and front of bodices.
You may opt to use interfacing to the folded facing area. Press it with an iron in place.
Below is a cowl neck top pattern – Notice the extended facing drawn above the neckline. That is the self facing which will be folded inside as a facing.
3. Bias facing
This is used in place of shaped facing. There are two instances where we use a bias facing –
- You are sewing with a sheer fabric and if you use a shaped facing which is wide it will show through the fabric. you donot want that
- You are sewing a top or dress with a heavy fabric and you do not want more bulk in the bodice area.
A bias cut strip of fabric of the same fabric as that of the main garment or a matching lightweight cloth is used to make the facing.
Step to sew a bias facing
- Measure the length of the fabric edge and cut a strip to that length plus 1 -2 inch. the width of this strip should be 2 1/2 inch . Fold this strip by half length wise wrong side together.
- Align the strip raw edges together to the neckline edge, right sides together. Pin in place.
- Stitch along the edge. Trim the seam allowance of the facing to half of it. Snip every 1/2 inch with a thread snip on the seam allowance.
- Press seam allowance to the facing and understitch.
- Turn the facing to the inside of the garment. Whip stitch in place. or use slip stitch.
4. Decorative Facing ( Inverted shaped facing)
This is shaped facing stitched to the front side of the bodice so that the facing appears as a decorative piece in front. You can use a contrasting coloured facing piece for a very interesting look. Complimentary colours also make beautiful decorative facing.
When you are done with facing, ensure that the facing adhere to the standards of perfect stitching
- You facing should lie flat and smooth without any seemingly bulging bulk.
- The seams are graded and clipped as necessary
- The facing edge is finished, flat and neat by any of the edge finishes to prevent fraying.
- The facing is Understitched so that it rolls to the wrong side neatly and smoothly.
- Stitched in place near openings, seams
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