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This article is the first in a series of technique guides written by Nicola Chadwick - a former senior fashion lecturer, now retired, Her business is aimed at providing designers, adventurous dressmakers and pattern cutters with the tools they need to create their own patterns from their own designs. You can find out lots more at

Hem finishes and facings

Creating Facings to Finish Edges - Adapting your Patterns 

 This tutorial will show you how to create a facing pattern. This technique will allow you to adapt any of your favourite patterns in several ways. You may have a blouse pattern that you would like to make without a sleeve – knowing how to create a facing pattern will allow you to create a clean professional edge finish to any hem.


What is a facing?

What is a facing?

A facing can be used to finish any hem edge. A facing will generally turn to the inside of the garment enclosing all the raw seam edges inside. This creates a neat, professional and structured finish. Facings are often fused with interfacing in order to give them stability, they are great for adding support and shape.

Where can I use a facing?

Facings can be used on any hem edge; they are most commonly used on:





Shaped hems

Keyhole openings

 Where to use facings

You can use a facing on a skirt waistline instead of a waistband, this creates a totally different look!


Grown on facing

 Facings can be separate pattern pieces, or they can be grown onto the main pattern piece. Grown on facings are ideal for making your favourite top pattern into a jacket shape with an opening at the centre front.


avoid a facing over bust

 It is often best to combine a neckline and armhole facing as one piece – rather than cut two separate shapes.

Always avoid planning over the fullest part of the bust as the facing will cause an unsightly ridge that is visible from the right side of the garment.


 You will need...

Supplies for creating facings

The existing pattern you want to adapt

Pattern cutting tracing paper

Ruler – and a French Curve if you need one to draw curves!

Pencil - 2H is best for pattern cutting


Paper scissors


Basic pattern cutting guidelines for creating facings

Facings will always have the same grain line as the original pattern piece.

Your pattern should fit you perfectly before you begin to create facing patterns, for example if a blouse previously had a sleeve, you may want to check the armhole fits correctly without the sleeve - it may well need to be raised at the underarm a little.

Facings should be at least 6cm deep.

Facings should not have severe angles – nice gentle curves are best so that you can neaten the hem edge.

Transfer all pattern markings from the original pattern piece to your facing and add some extra notches if you think you need them.

Do not plan a facing over the bust point.

If you are adding a grown on facing to the centre front, remember to eliminate any seam allowance there may be on the pattern – if you don’t the garment will end up too big!

Back neckline facings should be planned below front neckline levels if possible – this improves the look of your garment.


 Step by step guide to creating a facing

Planning facings

 A professional pattern cutter will always create a facing from a finished pattern – when it has all its seam allowance added, it’s the last job we do. When you know the method used to create a facing, you can go ahead and create facings for any part of a garment that you choose.

1. Take your pattern and lay it flat on the table, remove any wrinkles or creases.

2. Plan your facing shape on the pattern piece, use gentle curved lines and make sure you plan any pieces that will sew together as a continuous line. If straight lines meet, then they must join as right angles.


Planning angles for facings

 Once you are happy with your facing shapes, take a piece of pattern tracing paper and trace the facing shape, remembering to transfer all notches and pattern marking and grain lines to your new pattern piece.


Planning facings

The above example shows a basic back neck and armhole facing combined – planned with the pink lines – or a more adventurous keyhole opening for centre back and a deeper back neck facing – (you would have to adjust the pattern back in the same way for the keyhole shape).

Mark your facing piece with the correct annotations –

Pattern name

Number to be cut

Amount of seam allowance added

Note if the facing should be fused with interfacing

Any other relevant information you think you may need


Tips and tricks for sewing facings

Creating facings

 Facings normally have fusible interfacing applied – match the weight to your fabric, if in doubt go for a lighter weight for a facing.

Facing hems can be neatened using your regular method, pinking, zig zag stitch, overlock or serger – or why not use a contrast bias binding?

Facings tend to flip out of a garment if they are not secured properly, you can ‘sink stitch’ through a seam from the right side to secure them or ‘slip stitch’ the facing to the seam allowance inside the garment.

The seam allowance inside the facing does not have to be neatened, however you can grade the seam allowance to avoid bulk, you will also need to snip into any corners or curves to allow them to turn and lay flat.

Edge stitching the seam allowance to the facing helps the facing sit correctly.

Pressing is an important part of setting a facing.


Free smock top pattern

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that your garment is as beautifully finished on the inside as it is on the outside. Facings are a perfect way to create a neat and professional designer look!

Why not give Nicola's free smock pattern a try – it includes a neckline facing

If you want to apply a bias binding to the facing edge, then see this guide to making your own bias binding – it includes a free bias binding template

For more dressmaking technique guides, see here.

More techniques for dressmaking