Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Finishing a quilt with a facing (my way)

Yesterday I told you I was making facings for two of my Mom's African wall hangings and I promised to write about it today.

Facing a quilt is a way of finishing the edges without having a binding show on the front. Why would you want to do this? It is a nice method of finishing a small quilt that might be overwhelmed by a traditional binding. Modern quilts are often finished with a facing to give that "clean" look. When a facing is used no binding will show on the front. Think about a blouse with a round neck and no collar…it is often finished with a facing that is turned to the inside leaving a nice clean neckline. The same technique can be used to finish a quilt. 

Binding on left and facing on right

There are many different ways of finishing a quilt with a facing. This is a method that I’ve developed to meet my needs. I’m always looking for easy ways to do things and so this is how I make facings for wall hangings. This method works well on quilts that have been squared up and also on quilts that have curved edges (more on this further down).

If you used a fabric that isn’t busy, you can use the same fabric for the facings and they will just disappear. Personally I prefer to use a different fabric so that the back of the quilt appears to be framed. The choice is yours. In the example below, I had a busy fat quarter that I didn't want to chop up so I used it as a backing. There was no way of facing the quilt with the same print (or at least it would involve too much work for me) so instead I faced the quilt with a complementary fabric!

So here is how I do it! You will need two 4” squares of facing fabric and two 4” strips of facing fabric, one which is 1” shorted than the width of the quilt and the other that is 1” shorter than the length of the quilt. The two strips for the width and length of the quilt are to be cut into 2” strips.

Cut the two 4” squares in half on the diagonal. Turn under the diagonal edge ¼” and press well. I use spray starch so there is a nice, crisp fold that will hold.

These half squares may not be square. Lay them out on your cutting matt and if necessary trim them so that they are square. For quilts that aren’t square you will trim the corners AFTER they are pinned to the quilt. You can see this one needs trimming!

Turn under the edges of the 2” strips by ¼” again using spray starch.

Pin the half square triangles on corners of the wall hanging with the right sides together.

Pin a strip the width of the wall hanging to the quilt with right sides together. If the strip is too long trim it to fit. It should be about 1” or so in from either edge.

 Using a ¼” seam allowance stitch from one end to the other.

Repeat with the remaining strips.


Clip the corners close to the stitching without cutting the stitching.

Trim seam allowance on either side of the corner to reduce the bulk. I trim about 1” on either side of the corner.

Turn the corner facings to the back and use a blunt instrument such as a crochet hook to poke out the corners.

 Roll the facings to the back and press with a hot iron and use steam.

Making sure that no facing shows on the front, pin the facings on the length and the width and hand stitch them to the quilt. Lastly I stitch down the corner triangle facings in case I need to do any easing in. One more quick press and you are done! So that’s how I do it and it works just fine for me!

And while I was attaching the facing, I was using my nine patches on flannels method of using scraps and saving thread so at the end I had another nine patch for the stash!

I find that this technique works really well on wonky edges. All four sides of my wall hanging “Jack” have curved edges. There are so many curves in the piece itself that I felt that if I squared the quilt up it wouldn’t work so I just trimmed up the curved edges so that they were gentle curves with clean edges.

Jack, 2013

The one thing that I did that was slightly different is this; I made the corner triangles and pinned them to the quilt with right sides together. I then turned the quilt over so that the back was facing up and I trimmed the triangles so that they were even with the quilt. I then stitched down the triangles before attaching the facings on the top, bottom and sides. I proceeded as above. It worked perfectly!

Until I post again, happy sewing!

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