Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sorbetto II and Arm/Neck Facing Tutorial

Hey! I hope everybody had a great weekend. Monday was Memorial Day for those of us in the U.S. and I hope everyone had the chance to do something fun. I gardened, sewed, and made up another Sorbetto top from Colette Patterns.

My camera really hates this fabric and (something I did not notice in real life) the fabric on this version is so thin it tends to hang out on the top of my bra. Oh well. It's still pretty cute. The fabric is some kind of poly/cotton blend that was pretty fun to sew with. The main modification here is that I decided that instead of finishing the neck and armholes with bias tape, I would make a facing for a cleaner look. I am not a facing lover, but I decided to make an old-style one that uses one piece to deal with both the neck and the arm hole. You can tack it down under the arms and it will not flip up at all. I made a little tutorial in case anyone else wants to try it out. (I'm gonna use this a lot with all the sleeveless dresses I'm making for summer.)

Tutorial: One piece neck and armhole facing.

1) You are going to need some stuff.
  • pattern pieces (front and back)
  • tracing paper
  • pencil (I used a sharpie for this tutorial, but I usually do everything in pencil.)
  • ruler
  • french curve (you could do without, but I like to use them.)

We are going to start with the bodice front because it is a little harder.
  • Trace your tracing paper over your pattern piece. I am using a jar of screen printing ink to weight the paper down.
  • Trace over the top part of the pattern. (Neck, armhole, shoulder etc.)

It's when you get to the bust dart, that things get a little tricky. Stop at the dart and follow the dart leg for just a little bit.

Move your tracing paper down to the other dart leg so that the lines match up exactly. (Basically you are closing that dart.)

Continue the line down the side seam. I am making my facing 2 1/2 inches deep, so I made my side seam that long. (I am using the 1/4 inch seam allowances already on the pattern, so the final depth of my facing will be 2 1/4") I also drew a 2 1/2 line down center front. You'll notice that there are two center fronts on this pattern because of the box pleat in the front. Your facing knows nothing about any box pleat, so leave the pleat extension out! Stop at the first center front: also known as the stitching line.

Then I take out my ruler and start drawing the bottom of the facing. I just make a straight line that is perpendicular to the side seam and center front line. You can just eyeball it lengthwise. Now, see that crazy red circle? Inside that circle is a dot, and that dot is 2 1/2 inches out from the armhole. When you fill in the rest of that line, you do not want to go higher than that dot at that area when you join those lines together.

This is when you bring out that French curve (or whatever) to finish the bottom of the facing. I like my bottom facing edge to have gentle curves because I finish the edge by serging , and I don't want any sharp corners for that. (Plus it looks nice.)

Voila! Put all your makings on it and cut it out. (Remember that the center front goes on the foldline.) You now have a front facing piece. The back is done the same way, but easier because there is no bust dart.

Now how do you sew this to the garment? You can't just sew neck to neck, armhole to armhole because it won't flip out. I have a great magazine from the 60's by Enid Gilchrist (she's going to get her own post soon) that shows you how to attach this type of facing to a sleeveless garment. It's super easy. (I'm sure tons of people already know how to do this. I didn't and it was awesome to have an example.) (Clicking on the photo should make it bigger.)

Just tack the facing down at the side seams and you are ready to go. You can understitch or topstitch if you want. Do what you gotta do. I'm pretty happy with this technique and will be using it a lot this summer!


Dibs said...

oh thank you!!! I was just thinking I have enough bias binding tops to last me a lifetime, and was wondering how to draft my own facing. perfect timing. Will have to try this this weekend. Nice top.

Sheila said...

Thanks for a great tutorial and will definitely give it a try.

Thanks for the lovely compliment on my tops. I am wearing the black one today.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I will have to consider a one piece facing next time I need a finish. The non-flippiness is appealing!

Anonymous said...

Super helpful tutorial! Thanks so much!!

Anonymous said...

The fabric looks very crisp and summery to me.

Thanks so much for the tutorial. I'm going to use this pattern to teach myself sewing this summer, so I've been looking at all the variations and adaptations on the web. I've taken classes, but this is the first time I'm getting down to sewing something for myself. I love that not too much fabric is required.

Anonymous said...


In tracing the front piece, why not fold and pin the dart and take the shape off that?

Adelaide B said...

You can fold and pin the dart too. My solution is just another way to do the same thing.

SEW RED HOT said...

Thanks so much for this, I hate binding and was planning on drafting a facing but thought I'd check to see if anyone's done it and BINGO !
I do have one question: as the neckline and armholes are bound, there is no seam allowance there. Did you add a seam allowance or did you just sew your facing on with a quarter inch or something so not much was lost?
I'm just drafting mine now, will prob use a seam allowance. But thanks for this.

Adelaide B said...

I just used the quarter inch seam allowance that was already there. I would have trimmed it down that far anyway, so I figured why bother adding it in. (When I am patternmaking, I usually vary the seam allowances on different parts of the garment to be what I want when I finish. No trimming needed, just clipping.)