I am currently making a pinafore dress. (I'll post my dress and pattern later this week...)The pattern (a free download from Angela Kane) calls for the neck and armhole edging to be turned in and edge-stitched. I’ve decided I would prefer a facing for both the neck and armholes...so I’ve been reading up on how to do this for myself.
I used the pattern pieces provided for the front and back to make my facing pieces. I simply traced the neckline and armhole outside edges and then measured to make three inch facing pieces. I decided to face this in some quilting cotton I had on hand. (The dress – which I will post when I finish- is made of a heavy cotton decorator’s fabric ($2/m), so the quilting cotton will work fine for the facing.)
I learned to interface my facing pieces and I am glad I did because the facing sits so nicely on the garment. (This pinafore is actually my muslin and it just so happens that I can wear it. I can’t believe at one time I didn’t make muslins! I no longer have to live with poor shaping ...but I digress).
Why Sew Facings at All?
You don't have to use a facing to finish an edge: an easy way to finish a raw edge is simply to turn the edge and sew it in place leaving a folded, clean edge. Hems are usually done like this but neck edging and armholes can be too. This technique works well on straight edges, but not so well on a curved edge like a neckline because (middle school nerd alert) of the geometric principle that the inside edge of a curve is shorter than the outer edge of the curve (think of the lanes of a track). So, when you try to fold over a curved edge, there is not enough material available to turn and the fabric twists and pulls out of place.
What Do Facings Do?Facings are narrow pattern pieces that repeat the shape of the garment. They go on the inside and stop these openings fraying. They help it to keep its shape too. Even though they should not be seen from the outside, they still need to be sewn and finished as carefully as the garment they are to fit.
- Facings provide a neat finish to necklines and armholes (and hems!)
- Facing provide structure to a garment so it is wise to interface them
- Finish the edge of the facings with pinking shears or by serging them
- Be careful of the fabric you are using – lighter weight fabrics can be less visible on the outside.
- You still must stay-stitch curved seams even though you are applying facings to them
- Clip into the seam allowances of both curved pieces (the garment fabric and the facing fabric) so that the two will lie flat
- Facing seams are usually done as plain seams to avoid bulk.
- Slightly roll the seam line to the inside and press carefully. This helps to hide the seam line round the edges and gives a neat finish to the garment.
- Understitch the seam allowance to the facings and press again.
- Edge stitching the facing after it has been sewn in place is a good way to keep it in place
The Difference between Lining and Facing
A lining protects and covers up the inner structure of a garment. It’s usually a silky fabric so that sliding the garment off and on can be done with ease. Linings are constructed similarly to the outer garment shape, though they may not go all the way to the edge.
A facing is simply a shaped piece that finishes an edge. It is part of the garment being constructed. Lining can be stitched to the facing but should not be used in place of facing, since facing can give shape and strength to the garment.
A facing may be a neckline, armhole, front opening, etc. A shaped facing is generally 2-3″ wide, depending on the garment size.
In couture sewing, facings are much wider than 2 or 3 inches. The facing of the neck and armhole are usually one piece, allowing for a smooth finish without a lot of piecing. Of course, this calls for a lot more fabric so isn’t usually seen in middle-priced RTW clothes.
Burda has a great pdf on sewing all-in-one facings
Collete has a great tutorial on inserting a facing with an invisible zipper (and I used this and it looks so good!)
Sewaholic has some tips on facings and sheer fabrics.