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 of the garment. 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!
2) If your fabric is likely to fray, finish the shoulder seams using zigzag stitch or an overlocker. Press the shoulder seams open on both right and wrong sides.
3) The lower edge of the facing isn’t going to be stitched to anything – it just hangs free. 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.
4) Stay stitch the upper edge of the neckline facing. (Mind the shoulder seams don’t bunch up or fold the wrong way when you stitch over them – it helps to hold them flat to the side of the needle when you’re stitching.)
5) Pin the facing to the neckline, right sides together. Start by matching up the shoulder seams and centre front - I like to make a tiny snip into the centre front of both neckline and facing to help with this bit. Then pin the rest of the neckline.
Once you’re happy that it all matches up, sew them together along the top of the neckline with a nice smooth curve. Smaller stitches can help navigate a curve, so you could change your stitch length to 1.5 – 2mm. (Again, be careful that the shoulder seams don’t bunch up or fold the wrong way when you sew over them.)
6) Before turning the facing to the inside of the neckline, we need to work a bit of magic. If you think about it, the curve of the upper edge of the facing is slightly longer than the neckline where it needs to be turned under. (Okay, so you don’t have to think about it if your brain is hurting – just trust me on this!) So we need to reduce the circumference of that raw edge a little bit. There are a couple of ways you could do this:
Option A) The traditional way for home stitchers to tackle a curved seam is to clip the curves. At the curved parts of the neckline, make little snips into the seams up to (but not over!) the stitching lines. These little cuts will allow the snipped pieces of fabric to overlap each other slightly when you fold the facing under.
Option B) Alternatively or additionally, you can trim the seams down to reduce the circumference of the curved edge. The advantage of this approach is that you don’t get all the annoying little flaps of fabric mucking about under your seamline. If you make one of the seams slightly wider than the other, the edges won’t by lying directly on top of one another, so it’ll be less bulky.
7) Press the seams and the facing away from the bodice.
8) "Understitch" the seams to the facing – this basically means stitching the seams and facing together, very close to the seamline, to help the facing roll to the inside of the garment and to keep the seams flat. To keep everything neat when understitching, pull on the fabric either side of the seamline slightly with your fingers.
10) 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.