Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Sewing Basics: How To Grade Seams and Stitch Down a Facing

More basic sewing -- last time I showed how to finish a facing, and the next step is to sew the facing on to the garment. On my friend's pattern, she will be sewing a facing all the way around the neckline, as her pattern has no zippers or buttons to get in the way.

After pinning carefully by matching shoulder seams and centers (I make a little snip in the center of each facing-- before you unpin anything from the pattern, mark all the centers with a small snip or mark in the seam allowance! It saves a lot of frustration later), sew slowly around the neckline facing.

The instructions say next to "clip and grade" that seam allowance. I find it easier to do that the other way 'round. First I "grade" the seam allowance. That means cut each of those seam allowances slightly layered from each other. This is to reduce bulk.
 On my dress project, I had three fabrics at the neckline-- the garment, a collar, and the facing. I trimmed the facing seam allowance first, close to the stitching but not too close.  Maybe between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.


 On the next layer of material, I cut it about an 1/8 inch away from the facing. You keep trimming this way on each layer.


 Now I clip the curves. This is easy with scissors that have good sharp tips-- you want to just use the tip to snip close to the stitching, but not through the stitching (if you accidentally snip through the stitching, go back and machine-sew over it to mend it). All that snipping makes it super easy to iron things flat with no puckers.


 After pressing the seams towards the facing, and making sure everything is nice and flat, the next step is to under-stitch. This helps the facing to stay under and not be rolling out to the other side.
The seams you graded should be under the facing, and the rest of the garment should be on the other side (my garment has a collar, and that went on the other side, too). In the above photo you see the facing (with the seams underneath) on the right, and the garment (with my collar) on the left.
Stitch very close to the garment, but stay on the facing side, and catch and stitch that graded seam allowance to the facing side. You need to put one hand underneath your sewing as you go to make sure the seam allowance is staying there with the facing.

Now when you press that down, it will look like this on the inside of your dress. You see the stitching close to the edge in the photo above.

Next, my friend's pattern says to tack the facing to the shoulder seams. On her style of dress, that is sufficient, but on some garments I like to keep that facing really down by stitching all of it down, or as much as I can get to.
On my dress, I wanted the facing down all the way around. I use a simple stitch for this-- just pick up a little bit of the garment on the needle, then a little bit of the facing edge, and pull the thread through. Make the next stitch about a finger-width apart from the last. You will want to use a thread that matches your dress material for this.


 For extra security, you can make a stitch in the same spot again, as seen above; though this is not necessary on a facing, I sometimes do it on hand-stitched hems.

 I am pointing to my stitches on the front of the dress here. A small enough stitch will not be seen, though there may be a slight dent shown on solid-color fabric. If you use matching thread and are using a print fabric, your stitches may be almost invisible.
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