05 May 2024 • • by Heather Lou

Seven Tips for Sewing Perfect Facings

Marble Shell Top Pattern | Closet Core Crew | Sizes 0-32

Ah facings! The secret under-armour garment sewing, facings are the hidden structure that many of your clothes rely on to hold their shape. A frequent tool in our pattern-making arsenal, they serve an important purpose but can also drive people crazy sewing them, so we want to share our best tips for sewing beautiful facings that will help you create strong, gorgeous garments.

What Is a Facing?

A facing is a layer of fabric that is sewn to the inside edges of a garment to provide a neat and concealed finish; they stabilize the area they are applied to and prevent it from stretching or fraying. Depending on the application, facings are generally cut from the same fabric as the garment and have fusible interfacings applied to add definition, shape and weight, or in lighter fabrics, to reduce bulk and provide a soft finish. 

Shaped facings are the most common type, and generally mirror the shape of the garment piece they are applied to (ie. a neckline facing has the exact same shape as the neckline of the dress or top). Most often they are no more than a few inches wide and are meant to be invisible from the outside (although it may be possible to sew them to the outside for a contrasting detail!) 

Here are a few examples of facing applications:

  • A neckline or armhole facing provides a clean finish on garment openings (ie. the Marble Shell)
  • A hem facing allows you to finish the hem on angled garment pieces that can’t be neatly turned up (ie. our Jude Flares), or to add weight and structure to a hem (ie. the Marble Shell)
  • A waistband facing adds strength or allows you to replace a waistband entirely with an invisible support system (ie. our Pietra pants)
  • Pocket facings allow you to hide the lining fabric from the outside of the garment (most of our trouser patterns)
  • Collar and lapel facings add structure and strength and hide the internal construction (most of our coat patterns)

As you can see, facings are really important, but having a few tricks up your sleeve can make sewing them much easier, so let’s get into our top tips for sewing them!

1. Choose an Appropriate Interfacing

Not all facings require interfacing, but when they do, the most important step is choosing a fusible with the right weight for your fabric and project. The biggest mistake people make here is working with interfacings that are either too light or too heavy for the application.

Choose a fusible that is approximately the same weight as your garment fabric. If you’re sewing a fine viscose and making a neckline facing, the fusible should be light as well and not create too much stiffness under the drapiness of the outer fabric. Similarly, if you’re sewing a facing for a denim or canvas garment, choose a midweight interfacing so it actually has enough structure to support the heavier fabric. Here are the interfacings we suggest:

2. Choose the Right Seam Finish

If the facing is meant to be invisible (ie. not topstitched in place), you want to finish the edge of the facing so it doesn’t unravel while also not adding bulk or a creating defined edge from the outside. Most commonly, we ask you to serge the outside edge. You can also use a zigzag finish if you don’t have a serger.

Another option is to fold the raw edge under (which you can do once or twice) and stitch it in place. However, if the instructions don’t call for this, you may want to adjust the facing piece so it's a bit wider to allow you to turn the edge.

A beautiful couture option for a facing is to wrap it in double-fold bias tape or sew a Hong Kong seam. This provides a beautiful decorative finish inside the garment and is a fun opportunity to play with contrasting fabrics.

3. Grade and Clip or Notch your seams!

Adding a facing doubles the thickness of the seam, so it’s really important to grade your seams so you don’t see a thick outline beneath the outer layer of the fabric. Grading just means trimming one layer of the seam a bit shorter so you create a stepped-down “gradient” effect where you can’t really see that thickness. A general rule: the seam touching the outside layer of the fabric should be the longest, and the layer closest to your body should be the shortest. Using a pair of duckbill scissors makes this task so much easier as it allows you to only trim one seam at a time; the duckbill part protects the seam below!

If the facing is applied to a curve, you’ll also need to clip or notch along the circumference so you can create a smooth, seamless shape. You should clip (ie. snip to just outside the stitch line) when the line curves inward or concave, like a round neckline. You should notch (ie. remove a small triangle of fabric) when the line curves outward or convex, like a pocket flap. The most important step to clipping or notching is to make sure you’re doing it at the right interval. Too many clips and you risk weakening the seam; too few and you won’t get a smooth curve. I find it helps to visualize the curve as a series of straight lines, and then clipping where each point of the lines would meet.

4. Understitch, almost always

Understitching is SO important when sewing facings and if the pattern calls for it, don’t skip it! Understitching allows you to secure the facing to the seam allowance, anchoring it inside the garment so it doesn’t peek out while you’re wearing it. Once the seam is graded and clipped, simply press the seam allowance towards the facing and stitch all the layers together about 1/8" (3 mm) away from the finished edge of the garment. In some cases, you may not be able to understitch along the entire length; don’t sweat it! Just understitch as far as you can, and you’ll help anchor that seam in place!

5. Secure it in Place

Nothing is more annoying than a floppy, loose facing! You’ll notice a lot of cheap RTW clothing has this problem, and when you wash garments a few times you have to wrangle the facing in place every time you wear it. For this reason, you should always try to secure the facing in place so it stays where you need it to even after washing.

Our favourite trick is to secure facings by “stitching in the ditch” directly inside the center of any nearby seams. For example, with a neckline facing, pin the facing in place along the shoulders and then stitch the outer fabric and facing together directly along the shoulder seam. We employ this to great effect with the waistband facing for our Pietra pants. Even if a pattern doesn’t call for this, stitch in the ditch if you can and save yourself from a floppy facing!

If there is nowhere to stitch in the ditch or you don’t want to risk seeing those stitches, you can also sew a long chain stitch and use it to secure the edge of the facing to a nearby seam.

6. Should you topstitch it?

Another option to secure facings is to topstitch them in place. This helps to emphasize the design lines of a garment and provides another decorative element. Many “invisible” facings can be topstitched if you choose! Our Cielo top has a facing that can be left clean or topstitched in place; ultimately it comes down to what look you’re after in your final garment.

If you choose to topstitch the facing, make sure you use lots of pins to secure the facing in place before you start sewing it in place. If you have a walking foot, use it. This will help feed both players through the machine without puckering. Work slowly, use your fingers to keep both layers flat, and slowly turn your work as you turn corners so you don’t have any visibly jagged bits. If you want a super clean finish on the inside, fold the raw edge of the facing under and catch the folded edge in your stitch line; using a glue stick or fusible stay tape will help you keep the folded seam in place as you sew.

How to sew a curved faced hem // Kalle Sewalong // Closet Core Patterns

If you want more topstitching tips, we have a blog post for that!

7. Ask yourself: can I replace the facing?

The beautiful thing about sewing is that there are so many ways to approach construction! Our pattern team has a lot of debates when we’re drafting garments about what should be a facing vs. a lining vs, a bias finish. Oftentimes, a facing can be replaced with another finish if you so desire! Here are some ideas:

  • If a top or dress has a neckline or armhole facing, it can often be replaced with a bias finish instead; our Cielo top can be finished either way. This works best with curves; with something like the Marble shell, we suggest sticking to the facing because of the pointed shape of the neckline.
  • Sometimes the facing can become a lining! Our Azure dress was drafted with an “all in one” facing which includes the neckline and armhole, but you could just as easily cut the bodice out of lining fabric and skip the facing altogether! This works best with lighter weight fabrics where a lining will still help support the structure of the opening. With heavier fabrics or more complex shapes, sometimes you need the structure of a heavier weight and interfaced facing. That’s why coats often employ facings to support the lining; you attach the lining to a facing that helps support the structure of the lapel, neckline etc.

We hope this helps you on your next facing adventure! In the meantime, do you have any tips to share about sewing facings?

Looking for more help? Here are all our tutorials about sewing facings for our patterns:

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