Facings provide a lovely finish on many garments — but sometimes they just don’t stay hidden like they should. If you have issues with floppy facings, try these techniques to get them to play nice in anything you sew.
1. Clip and trim
The No. 1 reason that facings want to roll to the outside of the garment? Insufficient clipping — or no clipping at all.
When you sew a facing and then turn it inside, the garment the edge of the seam allowance is actually shorter than the curve on the edge. Unless you clip the seam allowance, the fabric in the seam allowance will always want to roll back into its original shape, pushing the facing to the outside and becoming visible when it should remain hidden inside.
In the example above, both facings have been pressed to the inside of the curved neckline edge. However, the seam allowance on the left has not been clipped. As you can see, the seam allowance can’t lay flat on the curve and it pushes the facing upward. The one on the right has been clipped so that the fabric in the seam allowance can open up and lay flat in the curve, allowing it to be pressed completely flat and not pushing outward.
How to clip and trim your seam allowances
“Clipping” refers to little cuts made perpendicular to the stitching — close to but not through the stitching (you can see an example above). These clips allow the seam allowance fabric to open into small wedges when turned inside.
“Trimming” refers to reducing the bulk of the seam allowance, which is what the scissors are positioned to do in the photo above. I find it easer to clip first, when the seam allowance is still at 5/8″, and then I trim away the bulk after clipping.
2. Understitch the facings
Understitching is a line of stitching done right near the seam (typically an armhole or neckline when it comes to facing). This extra line of stitching helps the facing stay inside the garment by securing the facing. It won’t peek out, and it results in a more crisp edge.
To understitch, attach the facing, then clip and trim the seam. Press the seam allowance toward the facing, then stitch very near the seam on the facing side. (Check out a more detailed tutorial here.)
3. Try a one-piece facing
If you’re making a sleeveless dress or top, the pattern may have both a neckline and armhole facings. All those pieces of fabric can look and feel messy on the inside.
To keep things more organized, convert the many facings into a one-piece facing, which connects neckline facing and armhole facings. The one-piece facing continues from the neckline all the way down to the armhole. The fabric that connects the two areas lays flat inside the garment. Because a one-piece facing has fewer edges, it’s much less likely to flip outside.
4. Use interfacing on the facings
Sewing patterns typically call for interfacing at the edges, and some patterns tell you to apply it to the garment or to the facing — don’t ignore these instructions!
Interfacing adds stability to the fabric, it keeps the curved edges from distorting or stretching out, and adds a bit of stiffness, which is really helpful when pressing that crisp edge. A facing without interfacing will definitely be floppy, so be sure to add it.
5. Tack down the facings
Once your garment is completed and pressed, you can tack down the facings in a few key areas to really keep them in place.
On a sleeveless dress the side seam is a perfect location for stitching in the ditch, which is stitching in the seam about 2″ down from the armhole edge. This bit of stitching secures the facing at that point and keeps it from flopping out. You can also stitch through the shoulder seam. If you prefer to hand sew, you can tack the facings down with needle and thread or some fusible web.