Sewing Facings in Sheer Fabric

I had enough of the bird-and-flower print left over after making the bird-and-flower Cambie Dress to make a second project! (Don’t you love it when that happens?) Luckily the Alma Blouse (View A) doesn’t require a lot of fabric, and would look pretty in a vintage-inspired floral print. When I started making this blouse, a couple of things came up that I wanted to share, in case it helps with your own Alma blouse!

The first thing that came up? I noticed this fabric was fairly sheer after making the dress, and wondered how the facings would look using self fabric.

I was short on fabric, so I planned to use solid cotton for the facings if I ran out of print fabric. With a little careful rearranging, I was able to cut the facings out of the print too. And then I realized – do I actually want them out of print fabric? What if it looks bad?

Sometimes it’s nice to see how these things look both ways in order to make a decision! It’s a good reminder to think through all parts of a project before you start, or be ready to adapt mid-project if you’re not happy with the look. So I cut a second set of facings out of solid voile and compared the two options.

Here’s the front facing, cut out of bird-print:

And here’s the front facing, cut out of ivory cotton voile:

Much better! While the facing is visible either way, I prefer the look of the solid ivory rather than the print-under-print. The solid ivory highlights the print, while the printed fabric shows through the white parts of the blouse.

So if you’re considering a sheer fabric for your Alma blouse, consider using a solid fabric for the facings. Or if you’re planning to use eyelet or lace, a solid fabric may work better for the facings. And if you’re using up small remnants, barely enough to cut the blouse, cutting the facings out of a different fabric will help!

Like this blouse? Get the pattern here. More mini-tutorials and sewing posts to come!

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30 Responses to Sewing Facings in Sheer Fabric

  1. Tessa August 9, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    It always bugs me in RTW when they face a sheer print with itself. I find it distracting to the overall look. In the case of the top above, I would have just opted to underline the top (like you did with the Cambie, if memory serves). However, I am busty so I get awkward about any chance my utility bra will show through. :P I love the Alma top, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

      Me too! It bugs me when it looks bad and no one thought about it before manufacturing. I’d probably underline the top if I wanted it to last a long time – I have a feeling I’ll wear this top out pretty fast though! Plus I like it to be lightweight and underlining doubles the thickness,.

  2. Keren August 9, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    That is a lovely fabric and is going to make a great dress. I would recommend in such a case to do one of the following:
    1. use a facing that is the same color as your skin tone
    2. go couture – not use facings at all but rather a full lining, preferably sewn in by hand, with optional stays to stabilize the edge (stay stitch, a strip of silk organza selvedge along the edge)
    3. Underline the fabric pieces to make it less sheer (base an identical piece to each pattern piece out of underlining fabric, and treat each pair as one). This will also help disguise the darts and seam allowances and such.

    I hope this helps. I am completely fascinated by couture sewing techniques and their solutions to these delicate issues :-)

    • Sassy T August 9, 2012 at 9:57 am #


    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestions! I like the idea of facing in skin-tone – kind of like wearing a nude bra so it doesn’t show as opposed to a white one.

      I love thinking up the best ways to solve clothing issues too! There are so many possibilities and no single right answer.

  3. Jessica August 9, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    The plain white definitely looks much better, but I’d tend to just line the whole thing rather than have the facing sort of peek through the sheer fabric – I agree with Tessa that it can look distracting! Though, I think you could dress up using a facing by adding some trim along the edge where facing ends (if that makes sense…I kind of confused myself writing that). It would create almost a faux yoke (sort of).

    • Jessica August 9, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      P.S. Congrats on another fab pattern!

      • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

        Thank you! I like the idea of trim too, to make the look intentional. And I have an idea on how to dress up the facing on this one, which I’ll post later!

  4. lunachick265 August 9, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    What if you skipped the facings this time, and finished the edges with bias tape, a la Pendrell blouse? You’d solve the show-through problem, and be able to demo an extra bonus option for the new pattern!

    • Holly August 9, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      I’m almost done another version of the Alma right now using a black lace and that’s exactly what I did, I finished the neckline with a self bias and it looks great. I think all of the Alma blouses I make from now on will be finished this way as I much prefer it over The facings. I also have an underlined one planned as well :)

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      That would work, but it would be tricky to work out the notched neckline with a binding! It’s a great solution for the rounded neckline options, for sure!

  5. maddie August 9, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    This is a great callout. It’s one of those details we don’t think to think about but will make a huge different to the final garment.

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Exactly! It’s something that’s easy to learn by trial and error :)

  6. Tee August 9, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Using a skin-tone silk organza would eliminate any show through at all. Nice fabric choice for a blouse.

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Thanks! Good idea on the skin-tone facing. For some reason it seems harder to think of that at the fabric store, as I’m thinking about the blouse on its own, as opposed to the blouse on a body, you know? The more times I think of it now the better chance I’ll remember it for later :)

    • Laura B August 10, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      I’ve just started using silk organza as interfacing for most things, in fact instead of fusible interfacing I face the facing with the organza so I end up without any raw edges and a nice crisp finish, if that makes sense–and Dharma Trading Co has GREAT prices on nice silk organza. My new favorite). I’d use the organza as a facing so it doesn’t show at all, but I wouldn’t have thought about it without your question!!
      Laura B

  7. Ally August 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    As a university student, I definitely love your tip of the white facing as opposed to drafting and sewing in lining! Really great tip for those in a time crunch!

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Exactly! And a good way to use up leftovers of both fabrics. Especially on a ‘bonus’ blouse from leftover fabric.

  8. Shelley August 9, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you thank you thank you. This will help me on a few of my upcoming projects, including Alma.

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      Oh good! I’m glad it was helpful. (You don’t need to actually cut out both facings to see which you like better, it’ll also work if you lie the fabric on top of the linings to see which looks best.)

  9. nothy lane August 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    I think I would opt to underline the blouse in this instance because I don’t care for having the facing show through. Although, you are right Tasia, the solid facing is much better.

    • Tasia August 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      I think that’s the absolute best solution to eliminate show-through, for the most uniform look! In this case, I was using leftover fabric, and I wanted it to be super-lightweight, so I went with the facings. It’s not so sheer that an underlining is mandatory and I’m OK with the little bit of show-through.

  10. Rachel August 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Other than the point in this case about the notched neckline, Can you provide any explanation to why facings are often used instead of a binding or lining? I really don’t like facings but figure there must be a reason, I just haven’t discovered it yet…

    • Tasia August 10, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Good question! I had to think about how to reply in a way that made sense… Why are facings used? I would say because they’re easier to sew and easier to modify. Say you wanted to scoop out the neckline more – it’s easy to do after the facing is sewn and after pressing. Neckline too high? Simply sew another row of stitching and trim down the seam allowances. For some fabrics, a facing is going to ‘behave’ better than a bias binding. Some necklines (and some fabric) work better with a couple of inches of facing to add stability, or to shape the neckline (as opposed to binding which doesn’t add structure, just finishes the edge.)
      I rarely see blouses that are lined, or patterns that call for a fully-lined blouse. I feel like that’s more of a case-by-case choice, when we choose a fabric that’s sheer or open that absolutely requires lining.
      Like anything with sewing, it’s a design decision. I picked a facing for this blouse so that it was simpler to sew than a binding and allowed for easy adjustment to the shape of the neckline, and so that the directions for all 3 views referred to a facing (even though the View A facing is a different shape.) Oh and having a facing allows you to interface it, which makes the neckline a little stronger too.
      That’s my thoughts on facings – I hope that makes sense! If you don’t like facings, you can always replace them with your favourite method of neckline finishing. (Kind of like how I prefer hand-picked zippers and do them whenever I can, instead of what the pattern directions ask for!)

      • Rachel August 12, 2012 at 1:02 am #

        Thanks for the thoughtful answer!

  11. jackie August 10, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    Visible facings are a no- no in my book, I think I would use a darker fabric or line the blouse.

  12. PerlenDiva August 10, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    I definately like the white facing better than the fashion fabric facing in your blouse. Thanks for pointing out this detail.

    I have a love-hate relationship with facings: I much prefer facings to just lining – the lining has a tendency to show somewhere along the neckline, even when understitched :-( Facings make it look way more professional, I think, and facing + lining is my favourite for dresses etc. Would be overkill for the Alma, though…

    Facings without attached lining sometimes want to sneak out of the neckline as well, even when attached at the shoulder seam and understitched, both in sewn and bought clothing. So I often have to “hem” them / invisible attach them to the shell, an option I don’t really like. Any suggestions how to avoid this problem?

    Happy Sewing,

    • Tasia August 10, 2012 at 11:51 am #

      I think that’s the nature of facings, in general – they can ‘flip out’ when you’re getting dressed! I usually stitch in the ditch at the shoulder seams, or add decorative topstitching to really secure them in place. Sometimes making a larger facing gives it more weight and makes it more likely to stay on the inside. I don’t have a brilliant solution to solving the escaping facings but I’ll keep my eye out for ideas!

  13. Janice August 10, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I always face sheer or white fabric with a nude-colored ((tan) facing fabric that is also sheer or light weight. The facing doesn’t show at all! The outer fabric’s seam allwance may show. If i care about that, then I use a 1″ bias strip of the nude facing fabric and sew it on the other side when I stitch the full facing on the garment. Voila! Nothing shows!

    • Keren August 12, 2012 at 5:04 am #

      What a neat trick – nude facing fabric on a seam allowance! Awesome!