Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tutorial: Finishing a hexagon quilt with a facing

I shared my polka dot quilt with you in my last post. Unlike most of my other hexagon quilts I chose to maintain the hexagons right to the edge of the quilt. So how do you finish the quilt? You make a facing. The next question is so what is a facing and how is it different from a binding?

Tea Dot by Karen H 2017

Let me start out with this qualifier: I'm not an expert but I'll explain it in my own non-technical way. Both a facing and a binding can be used to finish/cover the raw edges of a quilt. A binding (usually cut on the bias) is typically folded in half. The raw edges of the binding are lined up with the raw edges of the quilt and then it is stitched to the quilt. Once done it is folded to the back and the edge of the binding that is folded is stitched to the back of the quilt. With this method the binding shows on the front of the quilt. Attaching a binding to a quilt with a straight edge is easy although there is some care needed at the corners to ensure that the binding is folded at a 90 degree angle to create a mitered corner. If you were to attach a binding to a hexagon quilt you would need to create MANY 60 degree or 300 degree angle folds and this is just way too difficult for me. That's where a facing comes in handy!

A facing is a method of finishing the raw edges with a piece of fabric that is stitched to the quilt and then folded to the back of the quilt such that the facing does not show on the front of the quilt. It creates a smooth edge and no stitching will appear on the front of the quilt.

If you've ever made a sleeveless blouse you will notice that the armhole is typically finishing with a facing that is made from the same fabric as the blouse. The same is true for a neck hole in a blouse that doesn't have a collar or a jacket that doesn't have lapels. Using a facing to finish your hexagon quilt gives you a lovely finished edge. There is a disadvantage to a finishing with a facing and that is that the edge of the quilt is more susceptible to wear. A double fold binding provides two layers of fabric protection for the edge of the quilt whereas a facing provides virtually none. If you make a hexagon quilt that is going to be heavily used and well-loved then I recommend adding a border to create a straight edge and then bind it with a double fold binding. I wrote a tutorial of adding a border and you can find it here.

So let's get started with the tutorial. I like to baste hexagons from the back so that the thread remains in the quilt. If you aren't familiar with this method you can read about it here.  This is what a hexagon looks like basted from the back.

All papers are removed from the quilt top before it is sandwiched and then quilted. If you miss a paper it can be difficult if not impossible to remove! I know whereof I speak because I missed one paper in my Tea Dot quilt and had to quilt through it because I couldn't get it out! Quilt your top as desired.  The next step is to baste the edge of the quilt. I've marked the basting lines with green. This step is optional but I found that it was much easier to trim the excess backing and batting/wadding away if the edge was basted. The basting thread can be removed at any point after the trimming is done.

The facing is made of hexagons that are stitched together to mirror the edges of the quilt. The edge that looks liked dentil moulding will be stitched like this.

The edge that is a simple zigzag will look like this.

The following diagram shows the hexagons stitched together to make the facing. There are less hexagons in the diagram than there were in my quilt. The purpose of the diagram is simply to give you an idea of how the hexagon facing is stitched together. It will look identical from the front and back. I leave the papers in the facing until it is stitched to the quilt. Once attached the paper can be removed. I find the paper gives the hexagon body and makes it easier to line up the edges that are to be stitched. If you prefer to remove the papers before attaching the facing by all means do so!

The facing can be stitched together to make the facing for the quilt however I found it easier to stitch the facing to the quilt in sections.  Place the facing on the quilt with right sides together. I begin attaching the facing three or four hexagons in from the edge (I start at the red arrow) using the simple whip stitch. The hexagons to the left of the red arrow are left loose until I've stitched most of the facing to the right side of the quilt. It makes it easier to join the side face to the top facing. I used a neutral colour thread for stitching.

Once the facing has been stitched to the quilt it is flipped to the back. I used a blunt edged instrument to poke out the points of the hexagons. This is what it will look like from the front.

This is what it will look like from the back before it is stitched down.

The facing is stitched to the back of the quilt and you are done! I found it helpful to use little applique pins to hold the facing in position while I stitched it to the back. I would pin five hexagons and stitch four of them down. I would then pin the next four hexagons before stitching again. I did it this way because if the last hexagon was not flat and smooth a bubble would happen. If I stopped sewing before the last hexagon in the facing and that bubble was starting to develop I could reposition my facing without having to do any reverse sewing.

So there you have it, finishing a hexagon quilt with a facing. I hope this was helpful. It all makes sense to me but I know that sometimes it may not be clear to others so if there are questions or comments feel free to let me know and I'll do my best to explain how or why I did it this way!

Until I post again happy sewing!

Karen H


  1. thank you I pinned this to my quilt board

  2. Thanks Karen. I am going to try this as soon as my baby quilts are done.

  3. I've seen this method, and I'm thinking of doing it like that on my La Passion. Thanks for showing this in detail.

  4. Thank you! I'm going to make a small placemat to try it out.

  5. thanks Karen for this fabulous tute..i love this method of facing an hexagon quilt

  6. Missed your posts. Thx for tutorial. Recouperating from hand surgery and one more to go in July. Just too much fun quilting the last 17 years. Glad to see you back

  7. A very good tutorial as always! So glad to see you back in Blogland! I have missed your super tutorials.

  8. Fantastic, very clear tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing this in a way that I can understand. I look forward to trying it when my hexagon 'flowers' are finally joined.

  9. Thanks for the tutorial, Karen! I have this worry that the edges will loose their batting if it's not sewn into that outer seam. But, I know you've done this before. How has it held up over time?

  10. This is a great tutorial, thank you!

  11. I love the spots on your lovely hexagon quilt Karen. Thanks for the tutorial which will come in very handy. I am about to embark on a hexie quilt, and hope to bring some with me when I come to the states next week. what size were your hexies?

  12. Great to see your post. Wonderful tutorial and a beautiful quilt.
    I will try this facing soon.

  13. Great tutorial, and lovely quilt.

  14. I've seen this method, and I'm thinking of doing it like that on my La Passion. Thanks for showing this in detail.

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