Today’s topic is facings.

For those of you who don’t know what a facing is, go look in your closet for a shirt or a blouse or a skirt made from woven fabric, not knit.  The inside of the neckline or waist most likely will have a facing.  Facings give stability and a nice, finished edge on certain parts of a garment–such as a neckline, a waistline, an armhole on a sleeveless garment, and the part where the garment buttons up–where you need more stability and strength and where a simple hem or a bias edge won’t work.  Facings alro make a garment hang nicely and look pretty.

It doesn’t matter what shape the area needing a facing is.  The facing is the same shape as the garment area. Below are the patterns of the various fronts and backs and their appropriate facings and laid out and marked.  I used different cotton prints in different colors so you can see what’s going on.

Patterns laid out and traced around

Marked, ready to cut, cut the line off

Quarter circle patterns

More patterns

The rest of the patterns

Cut the fabric and cut fusible interfacing for the facings (not the shell pieces).  (The shell means the outer fabric of the garment.)  Fuse the interfacing to the facings.  I used some old stuff I had lying around for the purposes of the demonstration, but normally I use the interfacing that is sheer nylon tricot (knit).  One brand is French Fuse that is about 60″ wide (other kinds are only around 22″ wide).

Interfacing fused to the facings.

Interfacing fused to the other facings.

I’m demonstrating first a simple high round neckline called a jewel neckline, which is what you see when you draft a basic pattern.  The steps are pretty much the same for other shapes.

The shoulder seams of both the shell and the facing have been stitched with a 3/8" seam allowance.


The shoulder seems have been pressed open (also called butterflied, since a seam allowance is on each side of the seam).

The facing has been sewn to the shell and the curve has been clipped (clip to but not through the stitching). Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

Understitching: push the seam allowance toward the facing and stitch it down with 1/16" to 1/8" away from the seam.

The understitching finished.

Detail of the neckline seam allowances clipped to reduce bulk. Clip to but not through the stitching.

Turn the facing right side out, to the inside of the shell. You can see how the understitching pulls the facing a little to the inside, so it won't show on the outside.

With understitching, you can only see the shell from the outside.

Detail of the understitching from the facing side. You can see a bit of the shell.

I didn't finish the edge of the facing, finish whichever way is appropriate for your garment. But tack the edge of the facing to the seam allowances of the shell. This keeps it from flipping up to the outside.

Next is a scooped neckline.  It is also curved and almost the same as doing the jewel neckline.

Stitching the scooped neckline facing to the neckline.

Facing sewn to neckline.

Facing sewn to neckline.

The facing was clipped, understitched, turned, and pressed.

Finished scooped neckline.

Scooped neckline on the dress form.

Next up is a square neckline.  It requires less clipping but you pivot at the corners.

Stitch the facing to the shell. Clip at the corners, taking out a "V" to reduce bulk.

Detail of the corner clipped.


Facing understitched, turned, and pressed.

Square neckline from the shell side.

Square neckline finished.

Here are some others.  The square neckline has the corners going one way; occasionally you will have corners going the other way.  Use the same process.  Same for a curve going the other way.  Also shown are scallops and dagging such as you would find on a 15th Century houppelande.

Corners and curves going the other way, sewn the same way.

The corners and curves have been clipped.

Understitched, turned right side out and pressed.


Scallop pattern drawn onto fabric but not cut to the shape yet. Stitch on the line.

After stitching, cut out the excess fabric and clip the corners and the curves.

Then turn and press the scalloped edge, pulling the facing side a bit to the inside (you most likely won't be able to understitch it, but you can topstitch if necessary).

The dagging is similar to the scallops but takes more time and clipping.  Don’t worry!  It isn’t hard.  It just takes more time.

As with the scallops, draw the lines onto the fabric before cutting and stitching. Then stitch on the lines.

Now clip away the excess fabric, clip the curves and clip the corners. This is a short example for the demonstration; a sleeve or hem would have dagging along its entire length.

Don't understitch. Turn the dagging right side out. Press the facing side and pull a bit of it inwards so you can't see it from the shell side.

The other side of the dagging.

A detail showing how the facing side was pulled inwards so it doesn't show on the shell side.

There you go!  As usual, if you have comments, questions, and suggestions, let me know.  🙂


1 Comment

Filed under Parts

One response to “Facings

  1. LisaB

    Nice tutorial, Lisa.

    One thing I thought of that you might like to mention to your readers is that the facing is often slightly smaller than the shell. We usually trim a bit of the facing away at the shoulder seams before sewing so that the inner circle is smaller than the outer circle. Of course, facings should/could be drafted slightly smaller than the shell so that no trimming is necessary before sewing.

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