13 February 2013

Sewing the Neckline Facing

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Sewing a facing is a great way of finishing the raw edge of the neckline on a garment. A slim-ish strip of fabric is cut to the same shape as the curve of the neckline, stitched, then rolled to the inside. Take a peek inside some of the clothes in your wardrobe if you can't visualise it - it's very likely you'll find a few neckline facings.

In this post I'll show you how to construct the neckline facing and attach it to the bodice, using the Mathilde blouse as an example. (Need to catch up? All the steps so far are outlined here.) This is a looooong post, but all the individual steps are pretty quick, I promise.

Ready to sew? Let's go!

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Your neckline facing pieces - front and back - should be interfaced. Pin them together at the shoulder seams, right sides together, matching up the notches. Stitch.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Trim the seam allowances. If your fabric looks like it's going to fray like crazy, you can finish the seam allowances with zigzag stitch or an overlocker (serger). Press them open on both wrong sides and right sides.

The lower edge of the facing isn’t going to be stitched to anything, so it needs to be finished to make it look a bit nicer and to prevent your fabric fraying all over the place. You can finish this edge however you like - zigzag stitch, using an overlocker/serger if you have one, attaching binding… or if you’re really lazy you can just snip it with some pinking shears – you’re the only one who’s going to see it anyway… ;) Don’t worry about finishing the ends of the facing – they’re going to be hidden away under the back opening when we get to that bit.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Now to pin the facing to the neckline. I find it helpful to add an extra notch at the centre front to help match them up - fold the bodice and facing in half lengthways, and snip a small notch at the neckline on the fold.

Pin the facing to the neckline, right sides together. Start by matching up the shoulder seams and centre front, before pinning the rest. On the Mathilde blouse, the ends of the facing should stop 8.5cm (3 1/4in) from the raw edge of the back opening. Hopefully the neckline won't have stretched out if you staystitched it earlier - but if it does seem a bit big, you can ease the fabric in gently to fit the facing neckline.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Once you’re happy that it all matches up, sew them together at the neckline with a nice smooth curve. Sew with the interfacing face up on your machine - it will help stabilise the two layers so they're fed through at the same speed and don't ripple up. Smaller stitches can help navigate a curve, so you could change your stitch length to 1.5 – 2mm. Be careful that the shoulder seams don’t bunch up or fold the wrong way when you sew over them.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Before turning the facing to the inside of the neckline, we need to reduce the circumference of the raw edge - at the moment it's longer than the curve of the seam, so the seam allowances would bunch up when turned to the inside.

One way of reducing the circumference of the raw edge is to snip triangular notches into the curve. Alternatively you can just trim the seam allowances down - this way is less messy. If you make one of the seam allowance layers slightly wider than the other, the edges won’t by lying directly on top of one another, so it’ll be less bulky.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Press the seam allowances and the facing away from the bodice. Now you can understitch the seam allowances to the facing – this basically means stitching the seams and facing together, very close to the seam line. It will help keep the facing on the inside of the garment and keep the seam allowances lying flat.

I'm showing you what it looks like to understitch from the wrong side of the fabric so you can see what's happening - but you may prefer to understitch from the right side. It's up to you. As you're understitching, gently pull the fabric away from each side of the seam line so you don't get any ridges.

Now you can press the facing to the inside of the garment, rolling the seam line under slightly so it's not visible from the right side. Use a bit of steam from your iron to soften the fabric first (without touching the iron to the fabric), then roll it with your fingers to and press in place.

If you want to be extra certain that the facing isn’t going to roll to the outside, you could make a few little stitches at the shoulder seams – either by machine “in the ditch” (ie. hidden in the previous stitching lines) or catch stitches by hand.

And that's how to sew a facing!

Take a look at more sewing tips...

29 comments:

  1. This blouse is so pretty! I keeping looking to this post and I wish I could find time for sewing this!

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  2. I love the tip about smaller stitches to navigate a curve... clever :)

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  3. I'd not realised about making stitch length shorter to go around curves - thank you ;)

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  4. I read the post about stay stitching, but I guess I didn't understand it. Why would you need to stay stitch for this?

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    1. Stay stitching helps prevent the curve of the neckline facing from stretching out of shape.

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  5. In all the patterns that I've used with facing- it never stays put! After washing it gets all wrinkled up and wants to flip to the outside.
    To my knowledge, I installed it just like you did, except for the stay-stitching.
    Am I doing something wrong?

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    1. Hmm... I'm not sure. Are you interfacing it? And you're definitely understitching it to the seams? Have you tried tacking it down with a couple of extra stitches at each shoulder seam?

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  6. Wow - you make everything look so professionally finished! And your tension is the same on both sides-I can never get the stitches to look that great. They will go for a few inches and then I'll end up with huge loops, and then it will go back to normal. This looks amazing, I'm so glad I signed up for your blog!

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    1. I had that problem with my old sewing machine. What helped for me was keeping a very steady speed on the pedal. Or it could be how your bobbin is threaded...

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    2. Thanks for those tips, I'm going to try to pay more attention to both of those things and keep my fingers crossed it works :)

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    3. It's a good idea to test out the tension on a folded scrap of fabric before each stitching session - then adjust the tension wheel as necessary. It could also be the tension on your bobbin case.

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  7. Never used understitching till now, I always just topstiched all the layers together, but this looks so much nicer. Your tutorials are really great

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  8. Hello. Im sewing a dress and dont have any interfacing, can l use fabric instead and if so does it need stitching together? Thank you for a great website.

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  9. Dear Tilly, When would you finish a neckline
    with a neckline facing like you did here-
    http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2013/02/sewing-neckline-facing.html

    and with a bias strip like I found her-
    http://grainlinestudio.com/2012/02/15/sewing-tutorial-getting-flat-bias-necklines/

    Does it depend on the fabric or pattern? I don't suppose so and would love to hear what you think of it.

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  10. I am just doing this bit now but what's the seam allowance when you join the three pieces together? This is probably in my pattern somewhere so sorry!

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    1. It's 15mm / 5/8". The same for all the pieces unless it says otherwise. Hope it's going well!

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  11. Thank you so much for this teaching blog! I started my first ever project earlier this year and it has lain unfinished for the past few months as I didn't understand my pattern's sparse instructions about the neckline facing. Your clear pictures and understandable instructions means that it is now finished, and with one done I think a few more projects can start!

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  12. In the pictures, the back part of neckline is splitted in half. When do you sew these pieces together? Could you give some more information about the back part of neckline?

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  13. Hi Tilly, I love this top, have been making it in a lovely opaque charmeuse but also have a very see though charmeuse i would like to make it in, am a bit worried about the facings as they would show, would it be okay just to bias bind the neckline?

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    1. Ooh that sounds lurrvely! Yes, bias binding the neckline is a great idea. Can't wait to see it!

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  14. Every time I sew a facing, the neckline comes out puckered and more annoyingly - flared - as in there's a slight outward flare all around the neckline. Is there a trick to avoiding this? I've been sewing for 11 years, and I can do almost anything, but every neckline I make looks disastrous!

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    1. Do you mean around the outer edge of the facing? Are you overlocking or zigzag stitching the edge? If so, you might be able to fix that by adjusting the stitch tension. I hope this helps.

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  15. I have a dumb question. In step 6 whether you are cutting slits towards the seam OR grading the bulk, these edges are both unfinish. Is this a problem during the wash? Will it start unravelling?

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    1. Hi HW! Unless its a really lightweight fabric like chiffon it should be fine. Always best to put zig zag stitches on a raw edge though to be safe :)

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  16. Good demonstration.... thank you

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  17. My pattern pieces for my neckband are smaller than the neckline of the dress. I made up the neckband as you demonstrated above but it is so much smaller than the neckline that I can't match it up and have a lot of material to try to ease in. Where have I gone wrong?

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    1. Eek! Oh dear Unknown that sounds frustrating - your facing should be a replica of the neckline so if it's a lot smaller it's possible you've cut a smaller size. Also remember there will be extra width at the back for the button and button hole stands - see the 4th photo down. It might help to put a snip into the centre of the facing and top at the front neckline, and begin pinning from this point, so it's even on both sides. Good luck!

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