Sewing an All-In-One Facing to a Sleeveless Bodice

Work on the Dirndl Dress continues. I decided to make an All-in-One Facing for the bodice since this works well with the cotton fabric used for this sleeveless dress.

I’ve stayed away from this kind of facing because it seemed so involved. After practicing on the toile for the Dirndl Dress, using the instructions from “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” I felt more confident. I also combined a few finishing tips I learned when I first started sewing.

Overall I’m pleased with the approach I’m taking to getting back into the groove of creating custom made dresses. By starting out as if I’m learning all over again, I find the enthusiasm and energy as well as the fun has returned after such a long break in this pursuit that I love so much.

These are the instructions from “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing”. (1)

1. I previously underlined the cotton dress fabric with batiste cotton. Following the instructions in “Draping For Fashion Design” by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis, I cut the interfacing for the front and back bodice with only 1/4″ seams lines. This step eliminates the need to trim the interfacing after stitching. (2)

Since the interfacing had smaller seam allowances I could not simply match it up to the neckline and armhole edges. So, I pinned and hand basted in into place.

I think that cutting the interfacing and facing with a 1/4″ seam allowance is a good idea. It reduces the tricky part of grading seam allowances after sewing.

2. The lower edge of the facing could be finished by simply pinking the edge and then straight stitching 1/8″ away. I decided to use the same lace hem tape I will use for the skirt. It was pinned and basted into place. Then I used a straight stitch on the upper edge of the tape and a zig-zag stitch on the bottom.

The finished lower edge of the facing.

3. Not shown here but important to do is to staystitch the neckline and armholes of the facing and bodice.

Now, the facing is ready to be basted to the right side of the bodice. The “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” advised that a small tuck be pinned into place on the front and back shoulders of the garment pieces. I basted the tucks down so they would be secure. When stitching is completed the tucks are released. This ensures that the underseams of the facing will turn to the inside and not be visible on the outside.

In this photo you can see how the reduction the tucks caused to the bodice at the shoulder line causes a similar fold to appear in the shoulder line of the facing. These are not to be basted down.

The facing is pinned and basted along the neckline and armholes up to, but not including the shoulderline. That is left open.

4. I basted from the bodice side and checked that the facing was pinned in agreement with the stitching line of the bodice. This is because the seams of the facing were just 1/4″ wide and the bodice had 1/2″ wide seams.

5. After stitching, the bodice neckline and armhole seams were trimmed and clipped.

6. I used a June Tailor Board to press the neckline and armhole seams. First they are presses flat. Then using the curved edge of the board, they are pressed open. I used short bursts of steam to do the pressing.

7. The facing is turned to the wrong side. Here’s how the bodice looks on the outside.

8. The instructions then showed how to stay stitch the facing by machine advising the sewist to go along the seam as far as possible. Machine sewing does not permit stitching all the way up the curve of the armholes and neckline. I opted to finish the entire neckline and armholes by hand. I used a small prick stitch to secure the facing along neckline and armholes. Then I lightly steamed them again.

9. Now comes the part which requires extra care–stitching the seams of the bodice together. The seams of the facing are turned back and the seams of the bodice shoulders are pinned, basted and then stitched into place.

After stitching the shoulder seams are pressed flat and then open using the June Tailor Board.

10. The bodice shoulder seams are slipped under the facing. The facing shoulder seams are then released, folded and slip stitched into place.

Completed front portion of the All-In-One Facing.

Back bodice with completed All-in-One Facing.

10. The facing side seams at the underarm were tacked to the bodice side seam using small cross stitches. The back and front views of the completed facing are shown above.

Note: It looks as if there is a small tuck on the right side of the facing in the photo of the back bodice. This is just the way the fabric looked in the photo. The armhole curve turned out smooth without any small tucks or puckering. I credit this to the very clear instructions from “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to sewing”.
(1) “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing”, Second Edition, Pleasantville, NY, 1980. Page 198.

(2) “Draping for Fashion Design”, Fourth Edition, by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Relis, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2005. Pages 234-236.