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Facings as an edge finish

The following tutorial builds on the article published in the August/September 2007 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. The Pillowcase (or bagged back, or escape hatch) finish for a small art quilt is simply a one-piece facing that covers the entire back of an art quilt. This method is useful if you have lots of knots or carried threads that you wish to cover, for example after extensively beading a piece. For larger quilts (or even small ones) you may not wish to cover the entire back. Instead, you can use facings. On a quilt with straight edges, like Koi, you can use a straight strip of cloth as I did here on the back / under / second side of this quilt. However, just like a dress neckline, facings work well on curved and irregular shapes. From the front, you can’t tell if this quilt is a Pillowcase backing or a faced edge:Faced quiltlet

Borrowed from dressmaking, a facing is simply a piece of fabric that echoes the outside edges that is turned completely to the back side of a quilt. Large and small quilts with irregular edges are great candidates for facings!

1. Cut a strip of fabric that extends ½ inch beyond the outside outermost edge and 2-plus inches towards the center of the quilt from the innermost “innie”.

Facing a weird shaped edge

2. Pin the facing to the quilt top, right sides together, on the FRONT side of the quilt.
3. Sew a ¼ seam (photo below, left)

Facings–sew seam, edgestitch
4. Trim excess fabric from the seam allowance.
5. Clip /notch curves, clip inside corners and trim outside corners.

Facings –clip curves
6. Press the seam as stitched. Fold facing over the seam allowance and press again.

7. Edgestitch facing to seam allowance a scant 1/8” from seam line; this will encourage the seam allowance to stay put and not try to roll back to the front. (photo above right)
8. Fold facing to the back, “favoring” the edge. The little bit of yellow-green that you see in the photo below is the “favored” edge, which is a bit of the front rolled to the back.

Facings, favored edge
9. Iron the seam allowance and facings towards the center of the quilt. (See Step 9, above)

10. Turn under the edge of the facing and stitch in place. See the photo about edgestitching to see the turned, pinned edge.

11. Repeat on the other sides, turning under the short ends of the facing and stitch down to create a completely finished facing.

4 Responses to “Facings as an edge finish”

  1. Louise in SW Saskatchewan Says:

    Great instructions and diagrams/photos. The only thing I can think of that would help clarify it a bit is a picture of the edge stitching in a contrasting colour so people could understand exactly what it is if they have not used it in garment sewing.

    Believe me, I’ve book marked this as a reminder to myself for reference!

    Thanks again for all these little gems that help us to do better finishing and better work in general. It’s much appreciated.

  2. Vicky Says:

    Thanks for the idea. Instructions are done so they are easily understandable.

  3. Daphne Greig Says:

    Great instructions Sarah! I was planning to do this for my Journal Quilt….but….I trimmed my quilt to 17″ x 22″, forgetting to allow for the 1/4″ seam allowance. So, regular binding for me. I WILL be trying your method on my next small project though. Thanks for the clear pictures and diagrams.

    One thing….when you say “2. Pin the facing to the quilt top, right sides together, on the back side of the quilt.” would this not be right sides together on the RIGHT side of the quilt?

  4. Julaine Says:

    Incredible!!! Congratulations on the article…

    Did you get any info on a contact from Viking? I’m interested also in the hopes of getting a machine to use. I figure, once you’ve been published a few times, and demonstrate a machine for a dealer at IQF during a gig for Quilting Arts Virtual Studios, how could they say no?

    Glad to hear that your son is home and doing better! Continued healing thoughts. Take care…