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Why won’t my facing lay flat?

AmyC | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m making my son some “surfer dude” shirts.  (button-down cotton print shirts).  I’ve made two and I’m already cut out the third.  

On both of the shirts I’ve made, the facings would not lay flat at the neck opening.  They flip out into the opening so that the bound edge of the facing sticks out.   I’ve tacked the facings down with hand stitching and they are better-behaved now…but I can tell that they are still itching to swing out and show themselves.  

The pattern is a bit odd — the front and facings are a single piece. Interfacing is attached to the facing portion of the piece, and then the facing is folded inward and the fold line is pressed.  The facing is attached to the shirt at the neck edge.

I’m thinking about modifying the pattern and make a separate piece for the facing. Will this solve my problem?


  1. SewingSue | | #1

    Amy,  before you alter your pattern try folding the facing on the fold line and check to see if the facing and shirt fronts are the same.  You would think this is an easy one but they often get this wrong.  You are likely to find that they are not the same size.  If this is the case, you can correct the facing and everything will be fine.  I have found on a number of patterns with attached facings that the length of the facing between the shoulder and neck is often off.  Attached facings have a couple of advantages.  They don't take as long to sew, one less seam, and it is very easy to get a smooth edge.  Some light weight fabrics can get fussy.  Disadvantages, they can be a little more difficult to lay out on your fabric.  Especially if you're working from stash fabric and short on fabric.  You can usually squeeze a facing out somewhere.

    If the pattern isn't the problem, are you using fusible interfacing on the facing and possibly shrinking the facing slightly.  Most interfacings need to be preshrunk.  Ok, a third thought.  What type of fabric are you using?  I remember making a favorite blouse pattern a number of years back.  I had made that pattern many many times before and never had any problems.  I was making a pretty accent pocket to attach on the front chest area.  I had the placement marked on the blouse for attaching the pocket and cut out my pocket.  I marked the fold line stitched down the hem and pressed in the seam allowances and placed it on the blouse so I could sew it in place AND it didn't fit.  Too small.  So I did it again.  Cut it out, stitched the hem allowance, pressed in the seam allowances AND it didn't fit.  Too small.  I was using a polyester fabric and it was shrinking with the heat and steam of the iron.  The third time I did it I watched the fabric very closely as I pressed it and sure enough right before my eyes it shrunk.  There are a number of fabrics that will shrink very easy with heat and steam.

    Hope this is helpful.


    1. AmyC | | #4

      Hi Sue,

      My pattern didn't have a separate pattern piece for the interfacing -- I made one by tracing the front pattern piece onto wax paper.  When I stitched the shirt I matched the facing and front at the neck edge, then folded the front on the edge of the interfacing.   I did have some trouble finishing the facing at the shoulder seam - so it may be that the facing doesn't match the neck line properly.

      I've gone ahead and made a separate facing for this new shirt.  My fabric is very loud and I'm thinking about using a facing in a contrasting color to tone the shirt down a bit.  (The collar and sleeve cuffs are also in a contrasting color.)

  2. LizMaynard | | #2

    I'd try to go back into the neckline seam of the collar/facing/shirt.  Check to see if you've clipped your seam close enough, especially at the point where the collar ends & it's just 2 layers of facing--clip into facing, turn and press with facing & seam turned same way.  Hope that helps.

    1. AmyC | | #5

      Thanks Liz,

      I'm going to try that..


  3. julieb00lie | | #3

    You may have done this already, but I just wanted to make sure....

    Did you topstitch down the facing at the neckline seam? You know how when you attach a facing you iron the seam open, then you iron the seam towards the facing. Then, on the right side of the facing, you topstitch real close to the edge, like, 1/16 of an inch. This usually keeps the facing from popping up.

    I'm sure you already did this, it's a pretty basic step, but I just wanted to mention it b/c you didn't say anything about it in your post. I'm just trying to rule other things out first.

    1. AmyC | | #6


      No, I hadn't tried that.  I have a decorative topstitching up to the collar, but I haven't tried topstitching at the neck edge, below the collar.


      1. julieb00lie | | #7

        Yea, make sure that it is on the facing, and not on the front of the bodice piece. Also be sure to catch all three layers - the facing, and the two seam allowances. Hope this helps, let us know.


  4. JanetPray | | #8


    I make a lot of shirts! If all is right with the pattern then I think the problem could be the interfacing. If the interfacing makes the facing too much firmer than the shirt that could be the problem. Try using a softer interfacing. or my favorite: try adding an even softer interfacing on the shirt front to make the two pieces more compatable. One more thought, I don't care for a fold back facing at all, so it just may be that a pattern change creating an attached facing could solve the problem. Yes a fold back facing is easier and faster but it has less integrity and strength on the fold line. I hope this helps!


    1. AmyC | | #9

      Thank you all for your comments...I wanted to tell you how it turned out..

      I tried your suggestions and I made the facings wider in the portion between the lapel and shoulder.  I also moved the top button down so that it wouldn't be on the open lapel part of the shirt.  

      I think my frustration with the shirt came through and the collar was one of the worst I've done in awhile and I'm still not happy with the facings..it will never win any awards but miraculously it looks good on Nathan and the facings don't flip out!

      Nathan is outgrowing this pattern so this will be the last shirt I make with it, but hopefully future shirts will look better because of this learning experience. I'm still mulling over the problem -- this morning on Sew Much More they mentioned that a piece of fabric will buckle if there is tension on a bias edge, and I think that is what happened with Nathan's shirt...now I just need to understand where the tension came from and then I will feel satisfied that I've learned as much as I can from this.

      Thanks again for all your help!


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