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Creating a Minifacing

Dec 05, 2011
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I was working on a dress the other day that has a square neckline at the back.  There’s a boatneck across the front; at the shoulders the neckline drops vertically then squares off before the two sides meet at the center back.

I generally don’t use separate sewn-on facings – instead, I leave a wide seam allowance, staystitch the seamline, then turn the seam allowance back and catchstitch it to the underlining to hold it in place.  It’s a standard couture treament.

Of course, curved seamlines need to be clipped, and when there’s a sharp angle, the clipping for that needs to go right into the corner.

While the seam allowance will eventually be covered with the lining, those clipped corners are still a little bit vulnerable.  Once the seam allowance has been clipped and folded back, there’s not of lot of support there (while the underlining helps, there’s still a chunk of fabric missing).  Further, the bigger problem, especially with fabrics that fray easily, is that it’s hard to control the raw edges of the fabric that’s been clipped.  Even with the lining in place, it’s easy for those tiny threads to work their way out from under the lining and become visible.

It’s very, very subtle – but fine sewing is made up of such subtleties – and happily, in this case, there’s an easy solution: a small piece of silk organza (or something similarly firm and lightweight) – can be used to create a facing right where it’s needed – right at that clipped vee.

I’ve made some samples to illustrate the process.

We’ll begin with the standard treatment:

The fashion fabric and its silk organza underlining have been hand basted together, right along the stitching line.

The seamline is then machine stay stitched.

After stitching, the basting is removed.

The vee has been clipped, right into the corner, as close to the staystitching as possible.

After pressing, the seam allowances have been catch-stitched to the underlining; the corner is already beginning to fray.

The fraying is visible from the right side.

Here’s a better way to do things:

A small piece of silk organza, serving as a facing, is pinned to the right side of the fashion fabric.

It’s machine stitched into place, right along the staystitching line.

Then it’s clipped right into the corner, again, as close as possible to the staystitching.

The facing is folded back; organza’s so crisp and well-behaved that it works beautifully as a facing.

The organza is first pressed in the direction of the seam allowance, then it’s pressed again along the seamline.

The facing is pressed on the wrong side

Voila – the securely, cleanly-faced vee

The facing is catchstitched to the underlining

The wrong sides of the two treatments – without a mini-facing, and with one

The right sides of the two treatments; I’ll grant you that the difference is subtle, but you can imagine that the faced treatment will hold up better over time – no chance of fraying, and that little extra layer of organza lends a bit of support as well.

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  1. User avater JamesERusso April 18th

    Very innovative work...Really Appreciated work!

  2. Noelle July 8th

    Fabulous tutorials, as always, by Susan Khalje. Her
    videos are even more enjoyable with her gentle manner
    and pleasant voice. Thank you, Susan, for all your
    wonderful knowledge and applications!

  3. User avater Scheri April 12th

    Fantastic timimg finding this post. You just solved a problem on my little black dress front v and very low back v. Keep posting and I will keep following.

  4. ArtsySharon April 10th

    Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed learning this technique, Susan. Thank you!

  5. User avater maddie964 January 31st

    This is a great tip. Those little details definitely make or break a garment and this tip made the garment look so professional.

  6. penelopeelse January 3rd

    Love the explanation and the beautiful photos, thank you! I think I've read something about this before, but in a way that made me think 'ugh, looks hard...'. This now looks easy - and it's just in time for a square-neck design I'm planning.

    Not to detract from this in any way, but I am very curious to know how they deal with this issue in high-end manufacturing - and how do the results compare with the couture approach?

  7. User avater clothingeng December 30th

    Great technique, thanks!

  8. User avater Nerdychick2001 December 12th

    Thanks so much for this super clear explanation. I love how you showed the before and after. Thanks again and hope to read more articles by you.

  9. artclothconsiglieri December 8th

    Susan - Ah the wonders of silk organza! Thanks for the sweet technique -- comes in handy for me as I'm working on a project needing it. As to certain comments here that certainly this isn't finished yet . . . etc. -- at the very beginning of your article you say that instead of a facing you use a wide seam allowance which will eventually be covered with the lining.

    Alas, online communication is oft read and responded to a wee bit too quickly

  10. Notime2sew December 8th

    Saving this one for when i DO have time to sew!! Thanks

  11. SusanKhalje December 8th

    If you see my earlier post, you'll see that I refer to the lining treatment. Clearly this is much too fragile to be left uncovered.

  12. rkr4cds1 December 8th

    Surely this isn't 'finished' yet..? And there will be another lining or something which will cover all of this messy stitching up??
    I have a personal thing about making-it-look-as-good-on-the-inside-as-it-does-on-the-outside and even the catch-stitching here looks like a beginner's attempt.
    Nice technique but I'd be ashamed to have this photographed.....
    At least suggest pushing the loose corner edges of the organza up underneath the underlining so they're not hanging loose—I can see this tenuous 'patch' shifting or being torn off with the first time this nice slim, basic sheath dress is pulled on and off (besides the crisp material being scratchy against the skin)—or tell us what else is going to be done with this garment's insides, please.

  13. User avater MerylEss December 7th

    Thanks for another wonderful tutorial. Subtlety provides the excellence in our sewing.

  14. ustabahippie December 7th

    This is a really great tutorial! I use organza, too, for lots of projects, most recently to interface a collar on an almost sheer blouse. I especially appreciate the photos in this article. As a visual learner, these helped me really see and internalize the instructions. Thanks so much.

  15. SusanKhalje December 7th

    Thanks for all your kind words - nice to know you'll find this useful!
    And certainly, all of the inner workings will be covered with the lining - and we did do a couture lining article ages ago - I'm afraid you'll have to consult the archives to fine that one!
    But basically, the stitching line of the lining is staystitched, it's turned back then fell stitched into place, then it's understitched (by hand) about 1/2" below the edge. An upcoming article deals with this a little bit, too.

  16. vicky_north December 7th

    Visit to see all of the tutorials Susan has written for the website. You can also find Susan's articles, as a contributing editor, in each new issue of Threads magazine.

  17. Neosha December 7th

  18. Neosha December 7th

    Silk Organza is wonderful for all sorts of things. I first saw this technique used by Charles Kleibacker at Ohio State University. He used silk organza for all sorts of stabilizing situations.

  19. agatha44 December 7th

    Thank you for this tutorial. I can see myself using it often. Where can I find other tutorials that you have written?

  20. Mamato8 December 7th

    I have used a similar mini-facing for the V's in a knit shirt. I really don't like clipping anything that close.

    Thank you for sharing!

  21. JanF December 7th

    Would it be possible for Susan to explain further how she would go on to attach a lining - surely it wouldn't be left like this on the inside? I would be keen to see her treatment of attaching lining to cover the edge because I personally do not like to see the facing

  22. SuperiorLiz December 6th

    across the angle of the stithing. This sves you from snipping one thread too far

  23. SuperiorLiz December 6th

    When I snip into the corner I find it really helpful if I put a fine pin or needle a

  24. peanuts7 December 6th

    Thanks for the excellent tip. I just wonder if the silk organza will fray or if you finished the edges.

  25. User avater TJSEWS December 6th

    This tutorial is excellent. Thank you Susan!

  26. JennyEbner December 6th

    Great idea Thanks. I will use it lots.

  27. ipodgrannie December 6th

    I also make and sew doll clothes and this is an excellent tip, love the idea of using silk organza. Thank you

  28. User avater hogaboom December 6th

    This is a wonderful tutorial. I am wondering what book I'd get to know more about how one attaches the lining in this scenario. I am unfamiliar with couture methods, using machine-methods to attach lining.

  29. mabowles December 6th

    Perfect timing for this article. I'm going to make V1254 which has a v keyhole in the front. I've been stressing about how to make that opening secure. I'll use the organza mini lining. Thanks.

  30. Carolebarrel December 6th

    This can be used in another application: an insert of embroidery using the fashion fabric as a frame or focal point insert for a pillow. Thanks for the great tip!

  31. Moonbeams December 6th

    I am also going to try this on my doll clothes! I make and sell them, often discarding one here and there because of this problem. Nice! Nice! Nice!

  32. User avater Sewingirl2000 December 6th

    This tutorial was wonderful. The frayed vee is an experience that many of us can relate to. Thank you for the excellent advice! The description was well written.

  33. User avater kid_md December 6th

    Beautiful! Those little touches make all the difference in a high quality garment.

  34. karen7 December 6th

    great tip, can't wait to use it the next time I make something that has facings!

  35. User avater Mahogany_Stylist December 6th

    Excellent tutorial. Thanks, Ms. Khalje.

  36. User avater LuvThreadsMagazine December 5th

    Leave it to Susan Khalje for sage advice, understandable know-how, and long-lasting results one can be proud of.

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