Facing Tutorial

I started out with Jeri Riggs’ directions, which Maureen pointed out to me. You need those directions. I needed some clarification and my additions to Jeri’s post comprises the info below.

You need to know the length of each side of your quilt before you start.

A=Top of quilt
B= bottom of quilt
C/D= sides of quilt

Facing on Side A & B
Facing on Side A & B

Cut your facing pieces as follows:

A: 5″ x width of quilt
B: 5″ x width of quilt

You can change the 5″ size of the A/B pieces depending on whether you have a large quilt or a small quilt. 5″ is my starting point and I look at the size of the quilt and adjust from there. You want to be able to double the the fabric so you don’t have to make a hem and not have the two sides of the facing meet each other in the center of the quilt.

C: 5″ x width of quilt minus 4″
D: 5″ x width of quilt minus 4″

You make the C/D pieces shorter because you want to reduce the bulk in the corners. The C/D pieces will be positions on top of the A/B pieces.

One of the things I really had a hard time understanding in Jeri Riggs tutorial was the difference between what I needed do on the top/bottom (designated as A and B) versus the left/right sides (designated as C & D). The whole idea for the different facing sizes is to reduce bulk in the corners.

Cutting facings: For the A/B (top/bottom) of the quilt cut a facing rectangle that covers the entire top or entire bottom from side to side and is your preferred width. I cut mine, as noted above 5″ for large quilts x the width of the quilt. Adjust as necessary.

I cut the piece a little longer (mostly because I am too lazy to measure more than approximately unless I MUST). Trim off most of the excess after pinning the facing to the top and bottom. You can see in the photo that I followed Jeri Riggs directions by pressing a 1/4″ on the long side of the facing that would NOT be machine sewed to the quilt. Instead of doing this, fold your strip in half and pin the raw edge side to the edge of the quilt.


Once the facing pieces are laid out, trimmed and pinned, I machine sewed one facing to the top (A) and the bottom (B). Note on the sewing: The key is to sew starting on the short side (Side C) of the A/B facing starting at the edge of the pressed over 1/4″ seam, go around the corner, continue on the long side (very top of the quilt t0 Side A), go around the corner and continue along Side D to the edge of of the facing where you have pressed over the 1/4″ seam. You are sewing the A/B facings using a seam that is shaped like a big U. You will have no part of the A & B facings flooping around.

Sewing Facing for A & B
Sewing Facing for A & B

Nota bene: The only reason I flipped the bottom of the quilt over (photo right) is because I have a small sewing table. You don’t need to do this. If you have a large sewing table, you only need to flip it if it is creating drag on the quilt as you sew it.

Nota bene: This is a small piece and I would recommend trying the process out on a small piece so you get the feel of the process. If you have an unused machine quilting test piece, it would be a perfect piece to use to try this technique out. Of course, you can always make a little quilt-let. 😉

Aligning C & D
Aligning C & D

This photo (left) is a little bit blurry and I apologize for that. In the photo you can see Side D laid over Side B (bottom). Note how it does not extend to the bottom of the quilt. You need to cut the facing pieces  for Sides C & D shorter than the facing pieces for Sides A & B. By cutting the facing pieces only 1/4″ – 3/4s” over the A & B facings, you reduce the bulk in the corners.

On Sides C & D, only sew along the long side of the facing. The raw edge of the short side of the facing will be covered by facings on Sides A & B once you flip the facings to the back.

Now the machine sewing is complete and you are ready to flip the facings to the back of the quilt.

Flip over Side C & D
Flip over Side C & D

The picture to the right shows the quilt after I flipped Sides C & D. Look at the bottom right hand corner (by the green olive) and you can see the seam with the batting. This means that after you complete the machine sewing you flip sides C & D to the back. I pressed the folded edge (edge of the quilt where you machine sewed) so that the facing would stay to the back. After pressing, I pinned the Sides C & D facings to the back of the quilt to keep it in place until I could hand sew it down.

Finished and Flipped Piece
Finished and Flipped Piece

This picture is serving two purposes. First, it shows how the piece looks after you flip all the sides. Flip Sides A & B after you have successfully flipped, pressed and pinned Sides C & D. After flipping Sides A & B, press and pin those facings as well. Because Sides A & B have been machine sewed in a U shape, pinning is optional.

After you flip all the sides, I finished the piece using hand sewing. I think this technique requires hand sewing as I can’t think of another way to finish it. You machine only people may be able to think of another way to finish the piece. If you do I would like to know. I don’t mind handwork, as you have probably noticed. 😉 I just sat down and did it with some matching thread and a Harry Potter movie. Only got through a small amount of the HP movie as the handsewing went really quickly.

After pressing and pinning, the only problem I had was not poking myself with the pins as I hand sewed. Normally, I use metal hairclips on a regular binding, however they won’t work on this facing technique, because it is too wide.

The picture above also shows how the quilt looks when the facing has been completed.

One thought about this process, which Maureen pointed out to me, but I didn’t understand until I did the process, is that the facing becomes a design element on the back depending on what fabric you use. In House & Garden, above, I used the same fabric I had used for the back, because I don’t really care about this back (may frame this piece; we’ll see ). One thing about testing this process is that you can see what you are facing on the back.

Remember I couldn’t have done this without Jeri Riggs laying the groundwork and Maureen helping me figure out the practical details.

Let me know if you have any questions or need further clarification. I also want to hear your stories of making facings. I may update this page based on new information and things that you tell me.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

6 thoughts on “Facing Tutorial”

  1. Hi Jaye! I’m glad the instructions worked so well and enjoyed seeing your discussion of facings. It is really easy once you get the hang of it! Be sure to clip the corners for the sharpest finish. I used strips of Wonder Under to hold the facings in place before hand-sewing, but some braver souls dispense with the hand sewing and just fuse. It is up to you!
    Thanks for the mentions!

    1. Thanks for reading, Jeri. I did clip the corners and will make sure I mention it to my readers. Where did you learn to do this? Did you make it up? It kind of reminds me of stretching a canvas.

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