Face the facts

Woman sewingFacings are a great way to finish edges, whether on the front of a garment, around the neckline, or on the armholes. By definition, a facing is simply a narrow piece of fabric cut to the shape of the opening to wrap around the raw edges of the garment. However, the edge of a facing is generally not left unfinished as the fabric can become frayed and worn.

  1. For any finishing method except the last one listed below, attach the interfacing as needed to the facing piece(s) and sew all facing seams first, such as the shoulder or underarm .
  2. Press the seam allowances open. If the fabric is bulky, trim the seam allowances to ¼”.
  3. Once the facing is complete, then finish the edges.

So how to finish facing the edges? Let’s count the paths…


Overlocked edge finish
Overlocked edge finish

If you have a serger, it is ideal for finishing facing edges. Quick and easy: simply overcast around the outer edge of the facing. Overlock threads wrap around the raw edges of the fabric and leave a flat, smooth perimeter.

make the hem

Narrow hem finish
Narrow hem finish

You can hem the outer edges of the facings if you don’t have a serger. Simply press under the perimeter edge ¼” and sew close to the fold. This creates a finished edge, but on some fabrics it can add unnecessary bulk. Depending on the grain of the opposite edge, turning over and sewing a hem can also cause a warping and rippling. On some fabrics, this extra layer of turned fabric can also create a ridge on the garment on the outside when pressed.

Dot and rose

Sew and pink the edges
Stitched and serrated finish

Adding a line of stitching around the perimeter of the covering, followed by cutting with pinking shears, creates a neat, flat edge suitable for many fabrics. It is ideal for knits and tightly woven fabrics.


Bias finish
Bias finish

The outer edge can be bound, either with a bias tape or with a bias strip of a light fabric. If using bias binding, place the longer side under the facing and use a narrow zigzag to secure the edges.

On bulky fabrics, a narrow single-ply binding is made using a fabric that is lighter than the garment fabric itself to avoid additional bulk. Something like silk organza or lining fabric is ideal.

To finish a facing with narrow fabric binding, cut enough 1″ wide bias strips to go around the outer edges of the facing plus 1″ for each. Gather the bias strips if necessary and open the seams. Align the long raw edge of one strip with the facing edge and sew around the facing perimeter using a small ¼” seam allowance. Flip the binding to the underside, press and stitch in the seam gap to hold the bottom in place. Cut off any excess binding width near the seam.

Narrow single-layer binding finish
Narrow single-layer binding finish

Sometimes the edges (and seams) of unlined garments are bound in a contrasting color for added interest.


Finishing the covering
Finishing the covering

Many open-face designs require interfacing to help the armhole, neckline or front opening maintain its shape during wear and construction. The interface also serves to help stabilize areas for other design details such as buttons/buttonholes, toggles, etc.

Rather than adding interfacing as a separate construction step, you can use it to finish the siding edge. The interfacing can be iron-on or sewn depending on your fabric and the amount of stabilization desired.

To finish the facings this way, cut the facing pieces from the fabric and interfacing. Sew the seams (shoulder, armpits, etc.) as needed, separately in the fabric and in the interfacing. Trim the seam allowances ¼” into the interfacing layer. Press the seams open with your finger if using iron-on interfacing; otherwise, press open with an iron. Place matching fabric and interface layers right sides together and sew around the perimeter using a barely ¼” seam.

Turn the interfacing to the underside and press along the outer edge using the tip of the iron. If you are using iron-on interfacing, this process will fuse the edges together. Turn the interface side out and press. Again, for iron-on interfacing, this will attach the interfacing to the fabric layer. For a non-fusible interface, match the inside edges and brush around the opening.

Once the siding edges are complete, apply the siding according to the pattern instructions.

Raw edges? Is there a time when facing edges can be left raw? The answer is yes: if they are hidden by a liner, there is no need to finish the edges. Some sewers leave the edges of the facings unfinished if the fabric is knitted, as the edges will not fray. But overcasting a knit edge, or even just serrating it, gives a prettier finish.

~Linda Griepentrog is the owner of G Wiz Creative Services and she writes, edits, and designs for businesses in the sewing, crafting, and quilting industries. Additionally, she accompanies fabric shopping tours in Hong Kong. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Keith and three dogs, Yohnuh, Abby and Lizzie. Contact her at .

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