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  • Writer's pictureRiverport Quilting

Facing a Quilt

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Ever tried to bind a quilt with a just too little fabric? Not had enough matching fabric left? Had a border you didn't want to add anything to the edge of? Well that's where facing a quilt comes in handy. Yup, I thought it meant turning in the edges and slip stitching them closed. But, no it is an entirely different way of finishing off the edging of your quilt and one which I think I will be trying out more and more.

So, looking in the loft/attic (I think I mentioned this in an earlier post) I found the partially put together pieces from one of my first ever quilts - from 26 years ago! In fact all I had to do to this Double Irish Chain top was sew the two halves together and add a border. I did also find a few remnants - about a fat quarters worth of blue fabric (the same as in the piecing); about half a metre/yard of the same fabric but in a different blue; a few small pieces of flowered fabric and about 2 metres/yards of yellow cotton sateen which nearly all went into making the border. Excellent!

I think I had just about enough yellow sateen left to make binding but |I really wanted to use up all the blue fabric. Problem was it wasn't the same blue and introducing a different blue on the front wouldn't work, even if it was the same pattern. It had also slightly faded in places which meant I probably wouldn't have enough to be able to complete corners - either mitered or straight. Then I discovered facing where the edges are encased but you can't see the binding/facing fabric from the front.

In preparation it is very similar to cutting binding. You need to cut enough strips of fabric to go around the quilt. If you are a little short don't worry because in essence (and especially if it is a large quilt) the strips don't need to reach the end of each side. You will need to join all the facing strips together with either a seam perpendicular to the length or a seam lying diagonally across the strip and this will probably depend on the amount of fabric you have available. Finally you need to press the facing strips in half along the length with the seams pressed open.

From this point the adding of the facing strips is very similar to sewing on binding strips. The raw quilt edge is lined up so it lies exactly underneath the raw edge of the facing strips. Make sure the facing fabric is slightly shorter than the sides of the quilt. At either end on the quilt corners are right-angled triangle pieces of fabric. These are just a square of your fabric (I used some of the yellow cotton sateen) folded in half diagonally and the triangles need to lie underneath the facing strips and lined up with the corner at the front of the quilt. A 1/4 inch seam is sewn along one edge until you get 1/4 inch away from the next side, then swivel, line up and sew a 1/4 inch seam along the next edge.

As you can see from the last of the 3 pictures the facing strips need to be overlapping the corner triangle. This doesn't actually need to be by very much if the corner triangles are sewn down (once they have been flipped over). However on smaller quilts the corner triangles can be used as an alternative for a hanging pole instead of a hanging sleeve so the facing strips would need to be far enough under the triangles not to show.

Finally, before the facings and corners are turned over they need to be trimmed. This is to cut down on the bulk found at the corners, which would make it impossible to achieve a crisp point to the corner.

Now that everything has been completed on the front of the quilt the facings and triangles need to be turned over so they are lying on the back of the quilt. This is where they will be sewn down. Firstly the sewn edge of the quilt and facings need to be smoothed so the facing cannot be seen from the front of the quilt. They then need to be ironed flat (don't do this with polyester or synthetic battings/waddings) and pinned or clipped in place. Once they are satisfactorily clipped the facings and triangles can be slip-stitched in place. The facings shouldn't be able to be seen from the front of the quilt. In fact if you really wanted to hide the facings you could pull them a bit further round so that the front of the quilt appeared on the back and you would see nothing on the edge either.

I hope this has helped a bit with the mystery that is facing a quilt. I quite like it from the back as it gives a little more interest to the back than just a plain binding. I also like it from the front as the binding doesn't detract from the quilt. I can see problems in very thick quilts or fabric as the edging is being turned over so adding bulk. I can also see potential problems with the stitching along the edges coming undone and no binding covering any fraying. So all in all maybe one to use sparingly or only on quilts that aren't going to get a lot of wear and tear.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. If you have any questions or suggestions do please post a comment.

Thank you for reading this blog. Looking for a customized quilt for you or a loved one contact me today for a quote! I look forward to hearing your ideas! Clare

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