The Trouble With Facings And How To Fix Them

My latest summer dress

Sewing At The Speed Of Slow

imageplaceholder Jill Case
Online Editor, Sew Daily

“Tiny details imperceptible to us decide everything!”

_ W. G. Sebald, Vertigo

   I recently made this dress. The dress pattern from Simplicity has, like many do, facing pieces. Facings are commonly used in dresses and blouses.

Facings are sewn to the dress edge on the inside, so the facing is facing your body. The theory is that facings provide a nice, clean finish and should look smooth and pucker free from the outside. THEORY.

My experience with facings has been filled with puckers, ripping out and frustration. In other words I generally hate facings. When you put in a facing you need to pay attention to the seam allowance and clip, notch, grade etc in order to get a nice flat finish. I ended up ripping it all out (of course AFTER I had clipped, graded, notched etc leaving me with the tiniest seam allowance) and instead applied binding to the neckline. And, now it lays nice and flat, plus there's not flipping out of the facing.

Now sometimes, not frequently I will have no problem with facings. However, I'm not sure what I'm doing right, need to pay more attention on that. Generally, though I think I'm going to forgo the facings and just put in binding. It is a heck of a lot easier.

This fabric is a slinky, almost like silk but it is a poly so it's not easy to iron, with a crisp finish. Hmm, I'll need to make note of that maybe it's more the fabric that's giving me fits.

What's your opinion on facings? I would love to know how you make these facings look professional. Until then if you have trouble like I do, I found a really great resource of giving finishing touches to garments without facings.  Lynda Maynard in her book The Dressmakers' handbook of Coture Sewing Techniques shows step-by-step how to apply bindings rather than facings to neck lines and sleeves.

Here's why I like her book and her take on facings.

  1. She agrees with me that facings are, as she puts it "pesky" and a "dressmaker's nemesis"
  2. This book is spiral bound. Always a winner for me.
  3. I often times have trouble reading directions, the color, step-by-step photos are clear and easy to follow.
  4. The chapter Bindings and Finishes is  detailed over 20 pages long.
  5. The instructions are written for a beginner-intermediate sewer. If you are brand new to sewing this book will come in handy later on when you begin tackling harder projects.
  6. I love the fashion runway photos.

As I take my garment sewing from a 'fast and furious' method to a more 'slow boat to China' route, this book will come in handy in showing a more couture way of doing things. I'll keep you posted as I move through the chapters!

 I would love to know how you tackle facings and where you've had success with facings. What fabric did you use, give me details on the blog!

1a signautre small version 3

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Garment Details, Sewing for Beginners

About Jill

I am the Online Editor for Sew Daily and I am so incredibly excited to meet everyone here on this amazing sewing community!

My first passion is garment sewing, I love vintage sewing patterns and working with knits and silks. I also get very jazzed about sewing pants and love learning couture techniques. What about you? I can't wait to get started finding out more about you and what you like to sew.

7 thoughts on “The Trouble With Facings And How To Fix Them

  1. I, for one, have never had a problem with facings. I’ve been sewing for 50 years now and the first project I did had facings. While I do agree that they can be annoying sometimes when they don’t stay down, I find this usually with store bought items that haven’t been properly tacked into place. I think that people are getting lazy with there sewing these days taking so many shortcuts.

  2. I also have been making garments for over 50 years and have had no problem with facings. However, in the old days pattern companies provided good info on how to add professional touches. What I have found that generally works for garment construction is to wash the fabric to preshrink and remove sizing so adhesive interfacing can stick properly. If the interfacing does not say preshrunk. I wwill preshrink it by soaking briefly in warm water or steaming it with the iron floating OVER, not ON, the interfacing, sticky side down. It is like a shrinky dink depending on brand. That takes care of the bubbling when moist heat is applied and the untreated interfacing shrinks. Pay attention to grain, including the interfacing. It has grain. Follow the manufacturers advice for adhearing the interfacing. Use the right weight and type of interfacing for the fashion fabric. Under stitch the facing and seam so the facing lies flat after trimming and clipping. Use pinking shears instead of clipping to even out the stretch. All these steps assist in managing interfacings. interfacing a v neck has othe challenges, and how you clip the v and grade is very important.

  3. I hate facings … HATE, HATE, HATE …!!! I use bias binding in any and every instance possible – when I purchase fabric, I always buy at least a half yard more than I need, because I know I will need to cut bias strips to make the dreaded facings!!!

  4. That’s so funny because I feel the exact opposite. I often create facings rather than use bias binding. I always use pinking shears to trim and have the best results when I remember to under stitch. I do like to top stitch as well which keeps everything in place.
    I find that when I use bias tape, my neckline always pockets outward instead of lying nice and flat – unless I do a bias wrap that shows on the outside. It is so frustrating!

  5. I learned in 4-H to sew the facing material separate from the interfacing. Sew the shoulder seams in both. Pin and sew the outer edge with a narrow hem. Finger press the seam open. Press or fuse the interfacing to fabric. This gives a very smooth outer edge. After you have sewn the facing to the garment and trimmed away the excess, open the facing out with the seam on the facing side and top-stitch closely to the seam line through the facing and the seam.

  6. I occasionally have problems with facings but not often so I am not sure why you should be having such dramas, lol (I am far from being an expert). The best trick I learned from my dressmaker Mum is to understitch (I think that’s what they call it) where after you have sewn the facing to the garment, clipped and graded, pressed and all that, you stitch as close to the seam as you can on the facing side including all the “underneath” bits, ie seam allowances. I hope this makes sense although I suspect you already know this. (And now that I have seen the other comments, I know I am not the only one who recommends this.)

    One of the other commenters also recommended sewing all the facings, seams and hems, before inserting them. That is vital. On stretch fabrics I don’t finish the bottom edge of the facing – the less bulk the better.

    And finally, in most cases it is important to use some iron on interfacing in your facings to keep things nice and crisp. It doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be very heavy, just enough weight keep things looking good.

  7. Sometimes, I hear about people that understitch, and they say that it doesn’t work. There is a method for understitching that is rarely taught. When you understitch, the facing should lay flat on the machine bed. The garment will not, and should not lay flat. It will be “scrunched.” Then, before pressing, the facing will tend to stay flat on the wrong side of the garment, and will resist “flipping out.” Of course, you have to clip before understitching to make this work. I suggest clipping the garment seam allowance in different places than the clips on the facing seam allowance. This can make a smoother seam as well.