Get Your Facings in Order

Like many of the Japanese Hippie Doomsday Cult looks in Happy Homemade Sew Chic, the Dress with Front Tuck has only three pattern pieces – a front, back and pocket – and three facings – neckline and armholes. The facing – that strip of fabric along the edges of a garment – encloses the raw edges and looks all nice and finished from the wrong side.

(Don’t confuse facing with binding. Bindings also are strips of fabric along the edges of a garment, except that they bind the raw edge on both sides. You can see the binding from the wrong side and the right side, too. It’s a more casual look. Feel free to do a binding instead. If you are really lazy, you can buy premade bias binding and sew it on, presto. Our cult is not that strict on the facing vs. binding debate. If it feels right, do it!)

Regardless of your chosen finish, you need to cut the fabric on the bias – that’s a 45 degree angle from the grain. You can’t just cut a straight strip and call it a day. A straight strip won’t have much stretch, and you need stretch to handle necklines and armholes. If you’re running a bit short on fabric, you can do kinda-sorta bias and get away with it – a 30 degree angle cut will still give enough stretch. But go for the full 45 degrees if you can. I use a quilting ruler and cutting wheel for this task, to get a nice, straight line.

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The book includes simple instructions for how to make bias strips. Unfortunately, the instructions for Dress with Front Tuck call for facings of only 3/4 inch (2 cm). That’s not enough fabric to work with, IMHO. Cut a full inch (2.5 cm).

Before you start with the facings, sew the shoulders together. Then press up one side of the facing 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) so you don’t have to fiddle with it later. Then sew down the opposite side to the right side of the fabric 1.4 inch (1/2 cm) from the edge. (Yes, this photo shows another C- in Home Ec moment. I sewed this originally to the wrong side. My bad. I fixed it later. Don’t tell the cult leader, m’kay?) I like to use my quilting 1/4 inch presser foot for this.

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Flip the fabric over to the wrong side and fold down the facing. Give it a good press-and-pin job. Then sew it down to the wrong side, like so. Press again – really good with lots of steam.

If anyone looks at your armpits or neck (and what good hippie wouldn’t?) you’ll see a nice finish there now.

Good job! You can now sew up the side seams and try the dress on for fit.

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