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How To Finish Edges

Finish Edges

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Finishing Edges

How to Finish Edges?
Facings: Sometimes a shaped edge is finished with a facing. This is a piece of fabric that is attached to the edge and then folded to the wrong side. It is usually totally invisible from the right side and will frequently have seams that echo the seams of the outer section. Facings are usually interfaced, and to avoid bulk, the inner edge of these should be neatened with a row of stitching, rather than with a machine hem.

Bands: When only part of the facing is folded to the wrong side, leaving a section to show the right side, the facing will form a band of fabric along the finished edge. Make and attach this band to the main section in exactly the same way as an applied casing. But remember to look at your pattern to see where the stitching is placed. Frequently, the inner folded edge of a band will be hand-stitched in place so that no stitching is visible from the right side. Hand-stitch the edge in position, using one strand of thread and taking each stitch through the folded edge and main section along with the seamline. One hand stitch for every 3-4 machine stitches should be sufficient.

Bias binding: Purchased bias binding, a narrow strip of fabric cut diagonally across the grain, is a good way to finish curved edges. Available in many colors and widths, it has folds pressed into it – these form the seam lines. It can be attached so that half of the binding is visible from the right side or so that it is completely invisible from the right side.

Hand-Stitched Hems

For this type of hem, sometimes known as a blind hemming stitch, the stitching should be virtually invisible from both the right side and the wrong side. As the inner raw edge is not turned under, there is less bulk, making it ideal for heavy or bulky fabrics.

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Before you start, neaten and press the raw edge, then fold and baste the hem allowance in place, positioning the line of basting stitches 1cm (3/5in) below the neatened edge. Thread a needle with matching thread and fold the main garment sections down away from the neatened edge. Work a blind hemming stitch, taking tiny horizontal stitches through just one or two threads.

Once the stitching is complete, remove the basting thread and press the hem. Press the folded hem edge first, keeping the iron away from the neatened edge. Then, carefully press the upper edge by sliding the nose of the iron under the neatened edge. If you press over the neatened edge, you may leave the impression of the stitching on the right side.

Start by making the various seams of the main garment sections and facing until the point where the facing is to be attached. Pin and baste the facing to the garment and make the joining seam in the usual way. If the facing goes around a corner, stop stitching at this corner point with the needle in the fabric. Then, raise the machine foot and turn the work so that you are ready to sew along the next part of the edge. Lower the foot and complete the seam.

To reduce the bulk of the entire seamed-facing edge, the seam allowances should be layered. Trim away 6mm (1/4 in) from the facing seam allowance once the seam has been stitched.

If a facing goes along a curved edge, the seam allowance will need to be clipped to allow it to overlap or open out to fit the edge once the facing is turned to the wrong side. Cut very carefully into the seam allowance, stopping just short of the stitching line, at intervals of 1-1.5cm (3/5 – 5/8 in). If stitching around a corner, the extra fabric at this point will need to be removed to reduce the bulk of the corner when the facing is folded back. Cut diagonally across the corner, taking care not to cut the stitching.

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Some garments have self-facings, in which the facing is cut in one with the main section. Part of the finished edge will be created by the fold line indicated on the pattern, and the remaining section will be seamed in place. This is frequently the case with facings down the front of a blouse and across the top of a patch pocket.

Finish Edges: Attaching a Band

  • For a facing that forms a band along a finished edge, hand-sew the edge of the band in place so that the stitching doesn’t show from the right side. Working from left to right and using one strand of thread, insert the needle at right angles to the edge, as shown, taking a few threads of the band and one or two of the garment. Insert the needle to the left of the first stitch, again holding it at right angles to the edge. Continue in this way, making small, even, slanted stitches. Fasten off.
  • Bands can be made in two pieces, one piece forming the outer section that shows from the right side, and the second section forming what can be termed a band facing. Here, attach the outer section first and then the remaining section as though it were a real facing.

Finish Edges: Attaching Bias Binding

  • If the bias binding is to be totally hidden, start by sealing it in place with the right sides together, matching one fold of the bias binding to the garment seam-line. Trim the main section seam allowance to a width narrower than the binding width and clip into the seam allowance as necessary. Now fold the binding to the wrong side and stitch the remaining free folded edge in place, either by hand or with a line of machine stitching next to the folded edge.
  • If the binding is to be visible and will completely enclose the raw edge, start by trimming away a part of the seam allowance along the edge of the main section. With the right sides together and raw edges even, stitch the binding in place along one of the fold lines. Fold the binding over to the wrong side, enclosing the raw edges, so that the other fold line of the binding matches the stitching line on the inside. Hand stitches this edge in place. Press.
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Finish Edges: Blind Hemming Stitch

To use the blind hemming stitch, secure one thickness of thread to the edge of the hem allowance. Working from right to left, take a stitch through the hem allowance and then pick up one or two threads from the folded edge of the garment. Continue along the hem edge in this way, making each stitch through the folded edge 8-12mm (3/8-1/2 in) apart and working a backstitch through the hem allowance every 8-10cm (3-4in) to secure the thread.
finishing edges stitches

Finish Edges: Top Stitching

Whether a finished edge has binding, a facing, or a band attached to it, it may also have a decorative line of top-stitching. Wherever possible, work this line of top-stitching with the right side up. Use the machine foot or the throat-plate guide to help you keep the stitching at an even distance from the finished edge.


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