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How to Sew - Extended Facings

In general terms, a facing is a piece of fabric used underneath the garment fabric to reinforce and finish a seam, frequently at an opening of some sort such as a neckline or button placket (click on the link to learn more about sewing standard and shaped facings). Another type of facing is the extended facing which is cut as part of the garment and folded over rather than being a separate piece seamed to the garment. Extended facings can only be used to face edges where a straight fold can be made such as button plackets on shirts and jacket openings.

The main advantage to using an extended facing is that fabric bulk along that edge is reduced because there is no seam allowance (thus eliminating two thicknesses of fabric). This is especially beneficial when using both thin and bulky fabrics. Thin, delicate fabrics are not good at hiding seam allowances and bulky fabrics become too thick and stiff along the edge.

Extended Facing PatternIn this photo, you can see how I have converted one of my patterns to have an extended facing rather than a sewn-in facing. This is also a miniature version which is what I like to do for sample projects. If you practice sewing techniques on pieces of fabric that are less than 11 inches long, you can easily place the samples in plastic pockets and keep them in a notebook for future reference.

First, I copied the pattern and reduced it to fit on a regular piece of paper. To create the extended facing pattern, I simply taped a piece of paper along the front seam line of the pattern and then folded the pattern along the center front and cut the paper to follow the contour of the neckline and across the bottom. Fold the paper back out and you have added an extended facing to your pattern.

Extended Facing cut outIn this picture, you can see the pattern piece cut out of the garment fabric. Mark the location of the fold line on the top and bottom of the garment with a small notch or a marker. Finish the outside curved edge using your preferred finishing method such as serging, zig-zagging, or turning the edge over.

Extended Facing folded overFold the fabric right sides together along the fold line as shown here and pin in place. Do not press the fold.

Extended Facing sewnSew along the seam line and across the bottom hem (I used contrasting thread for easier visibility). Grade the seams and notch the curved edge.

Extended Facing turnedTurn the facing over to the right side and press in place. You can see how nice and flat the turned edge looks.

This example shows a basic application of an extended facing. In many cases, extended facings are used in combination with shaped and/or bias facings. In this case, the back neckline would be finished with a shaped facing that would be integrated and sewn with the extended facing used on the front.

Happy Sewing!

For more information on sewing techniques, these books are great to have in your sewing library! If you are a visual person, the Singer book is especially helpful.

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