Mysteries of the Unexplained -
Facings are most commonly a type of edge treatment for neck
and arm holes and occasionally slits. The essential mechanics
required of a facing are that it 1) bind the edge and 2) be
either decorative or invisible. Because we are most often
working with rounded edges or a slit, clipping and grading
seams is important. Otherwise, we end up with puckers and
edges that won't stay put.
In this demo, we will be going through three types of facings;
A 'common' facing, a 'placket' facing, and a 'slit' facing.
A common facing is any type of facing, using contrasting
fabric if decorative (and placed on the outside of the garment)
or of same fabric if utilitarian, required to finish the edge
of a curve such as a neckline or armhole. When cut for a neckline
as illustrated to the left, it is often referred to as a 'keyhole'.
Most of the time, unless the facing will be used for decoration,
I opt to bind neck edges with bias binding.
A slit facing is a type of facing that is most often used
only for slits.. The facing can be either decorative or hidden.
Often, I will opt for this type of finish if I am making a
shirt with a collar and slit front.
A placket facing is a type of facing for slits, which involves
a single strip of cloth. This is a common treatment for modern
dress shirts. Essentially, the strip is bound to the edge
of the slit and then turned over and sewn down.
Below are three types of treatments with step-by-step instructions
Decorative facings vs. Utilitarian
If the facing is meant to decorate the outside of the garment,
place the right side of the facing against the wrong side
of the fabric and sew your seam. If the facing will be hidden,
place the facing on the right side of the fabric and sew your
This method of facing is also known as a 'yoke', which is
not entirely accurate. This method is also somewhat wasteful.
Historically, a combination of plackets and bias binding would
probably have been used.
|1. Begin by cutting the neck hole
and the keyhole facing. In order to mark center back and
center front, I iron in light creases on both and then
line them up accordingly.
||2. Sew a very small seam (1/8")
around the neck opening. If need be, grade the seam down
to 1/8" after sewing but be aware that this will
widen the neck somewhat.
you get to the corner, stop the machine with the needle
still in the fabric. Lift the presser foot, turn the fabric
90 degrees, and re-seat the the foot. Continue sewing
down the iron mark.
you get to the end of where your slit will be, stop, again
leaving the needle in the fabric. Lift the presser foot,
turn the fabric 45 degrees, re-seat the foot and sew one
or two stitches until you reach the iron crease.
the needle-in-the-fabric procedure, turn the fabric so
that you can sew one stitch across the iron crease.
the second side as for the first, as illustrated above,
and then finish your seam.
the slit open to within half a stitch length of the bottom
most stitch. Place two other small clips at the 45 degree
stitches, being very careful not to clip too close. Clip
the facing to the other side and press down. As you press
down the slit bottom, gently tug the fabric until any
creases are removed. At this point you can finish the
Binding The Slit Separately -
|1. Mark the center
front of the garment by a light iron crease. Cut a slit.
Cut a narrow length of fabric for the placket that is
twice as long as the slit. This can be either straight-of-grain
or bias cut.
|2. Sew the placket
onto the slit edge as close to the edge as possible. a
1/8" seam or closer is preferable.
||3. When you get to
the end of the slit, gently cut two small cuts, as for
keyhole example #7. This allows for the slit to be pulled
a bit straighter in preparation for sewing the straight
placket across. Pull as you sew and sew very close to
|4. Once you've sewn
the placket down, press the outside flat.
||5. Tuck the raw edge
under and tack down the placket to the wrong side of the
You may have to practice getting the
placket to lay flat around the slit without causing puckers
in the garment. Some people sew this part by hand for a smoother
You can either allow the binding to lay free or you can tack
one side down against the wrong side of the fabric and have
that lay over the other side.
This particular treatment is fairly period.
Bias Bound Neck Hole -
Bias binding is a great way to bind the edges of garments.
There is some evidence that it was used sparsely in period.
Instead of bias cut strips, the binding would be cut out straight-of-grain
and eased into place. This was particularly easy to do since
it was being sewn down by hand.