This post will cover a type of finish typically reserved for woven garments, a facing. A facing is any piece of fabric which is sewn to an edge and then turned to the inside, thereby finishing that edge. There are a few times when you will see facings intentionally drafted in knits patterns, but more often you may run into them when you are adapting a woven pattern for a knit.
The very first pattern I ever bought was for a knit tank top with a cowl neckline, and it was finished with a facing. Not knowing anything about anything, I ignored the directions because I didn't know what a facing was, and sewed the top without it. Needless to say, that top didn't turn out very well, although I was SUPER proud of myself for completing it! Sadly, I couldn't even find it when I took pictures for this post...but trust me, it's baaaaad.
Although I did find the pattern!
Since then, I've learned about facings and how they help shape and complete a garment, and I would not skip one in a cowl neckline if the pattern called for it. In preparation for this post, I browsed through my pattern stash and pulled out other examples of knit garments that are finished with facings.
Simplicity 1716 (blogged here and here) and McCall's 6752 (blogged here) are both examples of a cut-on facing. Instead of a separate piece, the bodice pattern piece has a large extension that is folded back on itself to create a drape and finish a neckline.
A second example can be seen in the recently released Finlayson Sweater pattern by Thread Theory, and commonly in menswear. A half-circle shape is used to finish a back neckline, and then is topstitched to the garment. I've seen the technique in hoodies as well as polo shirts.
Finally, anytime you adapt a pattern intended for wovens to a knit, you'll need to decide what to do about facings. I've sewn Simplicity 2594, a pattern meant for bias-cut wovens (making it a good choice to adapt to a knit), two times, once with jersey and once with ponte. The first time, I kept the front facing:
Through the experience of wearing this top, I learned that the freely-moving facing really annoyed me! So the second time, I sewed it the same way, but I cut the facing after turning it to the inside:
I then topstitched to keep it in place.
Ugggh this fabric has pilled and looks terrible.
Since knits don't fray like wovens, simply cutting the fabric worked fine, though it doesn't look that pretty!
Facings vary widely from pattern to pattern, which is why this post is not as in-depth as some of the others in my knit finishes series. But don't be afraid to try a facing with a knit, as there are no "rules" that say you can't. Short of a lining, there is no nicer way for a clean finish than a facing!
I hope you've learned some new tricks for finishing knits in this series, and be sure to check out all the posts, here. Did I miss any? Are there other finishes that you'd like to see?