Tutorial: non-flipping facings

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I’ve developed my own little way of doing facings that works really well for me, so I thought I’d share it. I haven’t seen it instructed anywhere else or included in a pattern, but for me it removes all the pain points of facings – the flapping out, re-wrangling into place after laundering, awkwardness of sewing them in the round to a neckline – and leaves a nice clean, smooth finish that doesn’t budge.

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It works well for any sort of simple shallow-ish crew/jewel neckline with a CB zip or without; I don’t think it’d work so well for a deep scoop or V neck. It also works better on lighter weight fabrics because it adds a little bulk to the armsyce seam. I’m demoing on a new Sudley dress I’m making this weekend – here we go…

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1. Draft the facing pieces. Basically you’re tracing off the neckline and shoulder area of the front and back bodices. To get the depth, measure down about 2″ from the centre of each neckline. The back piece is cut straight across to the armsyce, and I’ve curved the front one gently up a bit as it reaches the armsyce.

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2. Cut out from the fashion fabric and from lightweight interfacing; fuse on the interfacing. Finish the lower raw edges of each piece, by pinking or overlocking.

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3. The facings are sewn on individually before the shoulder seams are sewn. Pin and sew the front facing to the front neckline and the back to the back, right sides together, using the pattern’s given seam allowance.

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4. Grade, clip/notch and understitch both the front and back as usual.

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5. Now we sew the outer shoulder seam and facing shoulder seam as one. Right sides facing, pin front bodice to back bodice shoulder seam, and continue along the facing shoulder seam, taking care to line up the seam intersection in the centre. Sew at the pattern’s given seam allowance.

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6. Trim (no need to finish the raw edge, I just like trimming with my pinks) and clip a triangle out at the seam intersection to reduce bulk.

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7. Press the seam allowances in opposing directions to help it lie flat. Repeat for other shoulder.

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8. Fold facings to the inside and give a good press. Looking good!

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9. Finally, smooth out and pin the facings to the bodice and baste in place along the armsyce, inside the seam allowance. Now you simply treat the facing and main bodice as one when you sew in the sleeves.

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All done, a nice flat facing that will never flip out of place! I think it looks really smart and pretty inside and out.

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For invisible zips again sew the facings to necklines first (the back being in two pieces in this instance rather than on the fold), then insert the zip, then follow the other steps. What’s your favourite neckline finish? Any questions on this technique, just shout.

72 thoughts on “Tutorial: non-flipping facings

  1. SaSa

    Thank you reminding me this good method for non flipping fabrics! Deer and Doe has made and instructed the facings exactly like this for the Sureau Dress and it works so well to include the facings to the armhole seam. I have used it later when drafting a facing myself for the Aubépine and Emery dresses because I don’t line my cotton dresses. But then I didn’t remind it any longer but used the original flapping facings. I love your good explanations.

  2. Bella

    This is so clever and I’m not sure why it’s never occurred to me! I have taken to topstitching my facings down lately as I don’t mind the look but this is perfect for those times when topstitching is a no-no.

    1. Katie Post author

      I agree, topstitching can look lovely sometimes (generally on a solid or texture) but this does do the trick when you want a smooooth finish.

  3. Rebecca

    Rightly or wrongly, I stitch neck facings down by stitching along the shoulder seams (in the groove of the seam) which always seems to work OK. I do the same along the side seams of skirts and trousers without a waistband to stop the facing flipping up. My mum taught me to do it this way so it’s a totally legit method….!

    1. Katie Post author

      It is – I do that too and it definitely helps. This one is pretty similar really, you’re just anchoring in the armsyce instead of along the shoulder line.

    1. Katie Post author

      Hah, I don’t usually follow the given instructions. It’s quite surprising how difficult they make things sometimes. Once you have your own techniques down it’s a lot easier!

  4. Esse

    Fancy that !! My mother always did facings this way and taught me when I was in my teens…..only about 55 years ago (sigh)

  5. Alex

    Great idea, thanks for sharing! I usually finish necklines with bias binding as I’ve not got on too well with facings in the past, but I think this will change that!

  6. Sue

    What a brilliant way to finish facings. I do have problems with them flipping which drives me flippin mad. So thanks for the tutorial. It’ll be one I use in my next project

  7. Mollie

    Wonderful tutorial that simplifies neckline facings. I’m going to bookmark your instructions for future use. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Lisa G

    Thanks for such a clear, easy-to-follow tutorial! I will definitely try this on my next project – a cute dress for my youngest granddaughter’s birthday! :-)

    1. Lisa G

      I finished the dress last night. I’m a novice sewer, but I had no problems following your tutorial. I love the professional look of the facings! :-)

  9. PsychicSewerKathleen

    This was so VERY helpful! I have bookmarked it for future reference – actually I think I’ll just print it out and put it inside my favourite sewing book. Absolutely the most brilliant facing method I’ve seen yet :)

  10. Mary

    This reminded me of the all-in-one neckline and armhole facings for sleeveless tops I made back in the day. Never thought of doing this with sleeves. Great idea.

  11. francesca

    Aha! Thanks for this! Papercut’s Skipper is done like this – the square neck version – I loved it, resolved to use it in the future, and promptly forgot! The only problem with mine is that I made it in linen and it gets very tricky to iron , since I don’t like to iron linen on the right side…..

  12. Carla

    This is great! Thank you so much for the tutorial, I’ll definitely try this method next time I’m sewing a facing.

    Also, where did you get that fabric of the girls with their hands over their eyes? It’s so cool!!

    Cheers!

  13. Cathy

    Great tutorial, thank you. Would it work to have the facing include arm holes for sleeveless dresses (I hope that makes sense).

    1. Katie Post author

      Yes, in that case I would use the all-in-one technique, which produces a similar result but the sewing order is different so you can turn it right sides out again! If you google ‘all in one facing’ you’ll find some tutorials.

    1. Katie Post author

      I don’t think it would work for kimono or raglan sleeves, because you need the armsyce to anchor the edges in to.

  14. Judy Samples

    I agree that is method is genius! I will definitely try it! I have a question, though. It appears that you have under stitched the facing as well. Is this the case? That step is not mentioned in the tutorial, but it looks as though there is a line of stitching on the inside of the facing.

    Jutta

  15. Waco

    So glad I read this! I’ve only really been sewing for about a year, and some things have just not improved the way I’d hoped they would (especially my neck facings). I decided to do this on my own for a Whitney Deal Ryan top I made a couple of weeks ago, and it made things so much easier. Glad to know it’s ok to “break” the rules where this is concerned!

  16. Glittermoonshine

    THIS IS SORCERY! I hate facings. Hatehatehate them! So much so, that I often refuse to do them, and I have the il-fitting garments to prove it. But this bit of magic might have just saved my sewing. Thank you, Katie!

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  18. Emma Jayne

    Thanks for sharing. I experienced the floppy facing neckline for the first time recently and it seemed to be linked to a shallow curves neckline (more boatneck). Pinned so I can try this technique next time.

  19. Mary

    I did this exact method on my niece’s wedding dress (medieval with long sleeves) because it was long distance, and she has small shoulders. This meant that the shoulders could be adjusted locally if need be, without dismantling the top of the dress.

  20. Sophie

    Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! I’ve been avoiding patterns with facings like the plague because they always flip or move in some kind of way, grr!
    Wonderful :D

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