I rarely create facings for my work, but I resolve to do it more frequently because it looks great every time I do. Quilt facings are a different way to finish an edge. Typically for quilts, we add a binding to cover raw edges, and for garments, we have hems. It is more common around garment neck and armholes to find facings as they are neater, and the quilt facing is very similar.
Facings on the quilt provide a modern look, and it is almost as if the edge has disappeared, like an infinity pool. Traditional binding is a much more definite visual edge statement. One thing to consider is that by attaching a facing, the piece has an indisputable right side and wrong side, hence why facings are usually only applied to walling hangings.
The colour of the facing can be whatever you want. A facing that is the same colour as the edge of the front of the quilt will tend to give the ‘infinity pool’ look. In the examples below, I have used the same colour facing as the quilt in one sample and a different colour in the other to give you a comparison.
I use two methods when making facings, and I would encourage you to try both and decide which one suits you. The first is a straightforward method that would require a hanging sleeve to be attached separately if the piece was to be hung. The second incorporates corner pockets which a doweling can be inserted into for hanging. Finally, there is a hybrid of the two, my preferred option which I will also explain.
Under-stitched Facings Without Corner Pockets
Under-stitching holds the seam allowance in place and away from the seam in this solution. This is similar to understitching in garment making, and it results in a very crisp edge.
- Cut four strips which are 2 ½” wide by the length of each side plus 3”. As an example, if my piece were an 18” x 24” rectangle, I would cut two strips that are 2 ½” x 21” and two strips that are 2 ½” x 27”. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, making the long edges match. Press with a hot iron.
- Centre two strips on two opposite sides of the top of the quilt. The raw edges of the quilt sides should match up with the raw edges of the strips. Attach these strips to the quilt with a ¼” seam allowance.
- Trim strips back to the same length as the unfaced sides. The picture below shows the top of the quilt.
- Now understitch the facing to the seam allowance. Understitching is stitching through the facing close to the seam, which catches the seam allowance created in step 2. I have used a blind hem foot and adjusted the needle position to sew 1/8″ away (on the facing side) from the seam ditch. The blind hem foot guide sits in the seam ditch. The picture below shows the top of the quilt.
- Press the facing on these two sides to the underside of the quilt and pin. The picture below shows the underside of the quilt.
- Repeat step 2 with the remaining two facings to the top of the quilt. On this occasion, you will sew over the ends of the facings previously attached. The picture below shows the top of the quilt.
- Do not trim these facings. Under stitch the facings.
- Fold back the excess strip, press, and now fold back the facings and press. Finally, pin in place. The pictures shows the underside of the quilt.
- Slip stitch around all four edges to hold in place. The picture below shows the underside of the quilt.
Facings With Corner Pockets
In this solution, pockets are added to each corner. There is no understitching in this method; however, you will see below the hybrid method I suggest could be added.
- Cut four strips which are 2 ½” wide by the length of each side less 2”. For this method, if my piece were an 18” x 24” rectangle, I would cut two strips that are 2 ½” x 16” and two strips which are 2 ½” x 22”. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, making the long edges match. Press with a hot iron.
- Cut four 5” squares and press once on the diagonal, resulting in four folded triangular shaped pieces.
- Pin the triangles to the top side of all four corners. The picture below shows the top side of the quilt.
- Centre the appropriate strips on the top side of the quilt and pin them in place on two opposite sides. Repeat for the remaining two sides. The ends of the strips will extend over the triangular pieces. The picture shows the top side of the quilt.
- Sew a ¼” seam allowance around the edge of the piece. Cut the corners close to the stitching. The picture shows the top side of the quilt.
- Fold to the back and press in place. The picture below shows the underside of the quilt.
- Slip stitch the edges but not the corners.
GillyMac Hybrid Method
I like the neatness of the corner pocket, though I often add a hanging sleeve as that is preferred for exhibitions. However, I also like the crisp finish of the edge understitching and do my best to under-stitch each side after they are attached. It is a little tricky close to the pocket but looks great with practice. Another tweak that could be made is to cut the strips thinner, for example, 2″ and instead of ironing in half lengthwise, iron one long side over by 1/4″. This will reduce bulk in the corners when using the first method above.
I hope this has given you a straightforward guide on creating facings for your projects.