Thursday, December 31, 2009

how to FACE the facings

HAPPY 2010!

With this new year we will be encouraging you to study your pattern books to answer most questions.

One of those things that just isn't clear is FACINGS.

Each pattern, each book, each era seems to present new facing issues. I hope to make some of it clear here and welcome your input as all I can do is make an educated guess at what the pattern is telling us.

When I learned to sew (I'm giving away a lot here) in the 50's we depended on knowledge of methods and not pattern instructions to make our clothing. I started with the Bishop method of working on grain and very few patterns were needed. As we passed into the 60's & 70's patterns were amazing and fun and had step by step instructions that trained us. Yes those step by step methods taught us not to think.

We dumbed down!

We lost the ability to decide for ourselves how we would like the clothing to be made.

I challenge you to get a good basic sewing book and decide for yourself how to do each step of your pattern. There are so many ways to do each part that no one way is clearly perfect in all cases. If you like how it turns out then it was a good method to have used.


The symbols are many for decoding the Lutterloh patterns. These you will see intermixed with the facing symbol. Facings are noted as diagonal hatching and ST, the S notes a trimming. These two can be confused or even used interchangeably

Any garment can be lined this is not noted in Lutterloh patterns.

Interfacing is a choice and is used in collars, button bands, waist bands, cuffs, etc. You will decide when to use these they are not noted.

Look at these pattern pieces and see how to find the facings and use the facings.

The dotted lines between symbols are fold lines, first you see a self facing (hatching) It folds over the elastic (see symbol for elastic above)

The thing you shouldn't forget before folding this down is that seam allowances and hems are not in the pattern so I would add a 1/2" to the top for the clean finish.

But add what you wish to use

The facing on this pair of pants needs to have a separate piece traced and cut out. One thing you can see that helps tell you this is that the zipper marks go all the way to the top of the pant. That tells you the facing might be separate. You need to add seam allowance and a fold over for the hem. You must also add the seam allowance to the pant top. It's funny to see hatch marks in the dart but if you think about it a dart really is faced when you pinch the fabric in half.

This facing is fun. See the button line? On the left of it is the button space so we know that the hatching on the other side is a fold over facing and you do not need to cut a separate piece.

I know that seeing the fashion model helps me figure out the intent of the pattern but really I decide the intent of the fashion so I am having you look at the patterns without the aid of the fashion drawings.

Here we have several separate facings.

How do we know? That circle half dark half light is for contrasting fabric. You must add seam allowances.

You also have two arrows used to show different pieces on the front edge so you draw the pattern then cut the front in two separate pieces. In the fashion picture the front piece is cut in the fashion fabric not the contrast. I'm not sure why there is a separate piece if it isn't in the contrast. Odd shape for a button band. It looks as if the button band is a self facing one that you just fold over but do add some hem turning space.

I have several ways to do the contrast fabric. If the top and sleeves are the length I want I will sew the contrasting fabric wrong side to wrong side and fold it toward the front of the fabric. This will make it easy to keep the 3 cm width at the bottom of outfit. It uses mostly the main fabric as the back of the contrasting area. If you wish to sew it to the bottom right sides together and fold it to the underside you need to double the size and add that hem fold over. Other wise the contrast will barely show. Luttlerloh vintage has a lot of contrasting features. This is something we can cover in another posting.

Here the facings are separate and need to be cut separate on the back neck and on the front button band and collar. Add seam allowance and hem finishing length. The bottom appears to be a folded hem but we don't see other hems marked in this way so it may be a facing. We do know it is 3 cm wide.

This is a front pant zipper the hatching is a fold over facing but there is a separate zipper piece 4 cm by 16 Cm that also has a fold over facing. The waist band is separate and the other hatching may be just a folded area. Easy this time.

The pocket needs several pieces. I make these pockets all the time and we call each piece something different to keep track. The hatching is a separate facing piece cut in that shape shown using the pocket lining piece as the mold. I have fun with this and use fun fabrics for this facing.

The front zipper is a center matched zipper and you fold back a self facing on both sides and put the zipper uncovered into the pant. Feel free to cover it by making another piece as in the pant pattern above.

This is a fun sleeve bottom. For this I'll show the fashion picture. See the line of double stitching? Those are the two lines very close and parallel. The other line that is farther apart is believed to be a fold line. This makes me think this is a mock cuff. Find out how to make one in a good sewing book.

On the right coat a possible mock cuff on the left a self facing folded up cuff

Figuring out this facing means when you fold up the cuff you have the wrong side of the fabric showing. See photo above. Think this through carefully. How do you make a nice looking cuff?

A knit bathing suit with elastic and self facing. No raveling with bathing suit knit so I don't add a folded hem I just sew it down.

Separate facing. Many times you can connect or enlarge facings to include button bands, back facing or even bodice lining. The size of facings is a suggestion.

OK your turn.... what facings do you need and what kind are they?

THE QUESTION: Are hatch lines only facings when the ST is on them? Are they just turned areas if not marked? Are the dashed lines folds for darts, tucks, as in placing a front center on the fold? Or is it used for any folded fabric meaning that when present we don't need to make separate facings? Which dashed lines are top stitching, which are folds, which hems?

So many questions! Let's find the answers shall we?


  1. I was so excited to see your blog post! Thanks for sharing all this great info on facings.

  2. These written points about facings is invaluable. I have been getting it right so far, but only because I have been sewing for a while. Thanks for your facing points.

  3. I have a question on the symbols that represent the straight of grain. How do we transfer that verticle line from pattern to my drafting pattern?

  4. I don't think you can ever go wrong with making your straight grain parallel to the front center line and the back center line and the center line of the sleeve. I put my line about 5 inches away from the center for ease in laying the pattern on the fabric and making sure it is laying on grain.

  5. Your site helps so much to clarify the "little things" that often make the difference between completing a pattern or leaving it undone because something is not clear. Something as elemental as how to draw a correct grain line on my paper eluded me. You and those who ask and answer the questions help me to be more confident in using Lutterloh. The information on using knits is very helpful as I have a new serger and am making knit jerseys for my little girls. You're appreciated.

  6. I have a question regarding darts.How is the point of the dart mapped,as I cann't see a number to put the dot in place.Regards Jackie.

  7. Fonnell
    Thanks so much for your site...great info. I'm bran new to the Lutterloh system and absolutely love it. Guess I've been lucky in what I have made so far. All of my blouses/tops fit!!! My question is where are you suppose to take your measurement for your bust? In watching the videos from Lutterloh, one takes high up shoulder blades, right down underneath the arm pit and lowered to the largest part of the bust. In the documentation they sent, the measuring is taken the usual way across the biggest part of the bust. All methods will give you a different measure. My high bust is 106 - full bust "the regular way is 112 and the Lutterloh way is 116 "all in cm."

    Seems to me that you answered this questions somewhere on this site but I can't seem to find it again LOL. I'm recovering from foot surgery and somedays are well...not so good LOL.

  8. I am curious how you know where to mark the facings. I'm working on a peacoat from the '70's era book my Grandmother just gave me. Because it has a lapel, I can't just follow the center line. Also, while the suggestion I saw in the advanced study book to cut the facing a bit short to prevent waving makes sense to me, I'm thinking it's not necessary on a melton wool coat, right? I'm probably overthinking the whole thing since I don't have the fabric yet, but I'd appreciate some guidance on this. I've made jackets for the last 10 years, but I never did the cutting, and the fabric I worked with was handwoven, so if facings were cut smaller, they had grown by the time I got them. TIA

  9. Hi Meira,
    Without looking at the actual pattern you're using I'd have to tell you that as a general rule I cut my facings from the same pattern pieces but only make them 2-3 inches wide. With a peacoat though I believe I would make the facings even wider. I just looked at a peacoat I own and I can tell you that the facings are appx. 4 inches wide but get narrower at the top where the collar meets the lapel. When in doubt I usually consult one of my sewing books or at least inspect a similar ready to wear garment to be sure. As far as cutting the facings shorter this would depend on the fabric for both the facings and the lining but I have done this myself.

    1. I'm making a fitted version of my Navy issue peacoat (that sucker still buttoned when I was 6 months pregnant, and I was NOT a small pregnant I am using a Melton wool and a medium/heavy weight brocade for the lining (not Navy issue in the least, but I thought it would be cute.) The pattern I'm using has princess seams and upon closer inspection the facing line appears to have the VM center line marking on the A front piece. I'm assuming that means the facing comes up the center of that piece and down from the center of the shoulder and blends to the other smoothly. I'm realising that while I've got a good handle on garment construction without instructions, things like drafting facings and button position (which were all done for me on the designer's patterns) are still a bit new for me. So, for a thick wool and fairly heavy brocade, would you cut the facing shorter, or not? TIA

  10. I don't have a peacoat but in making unlined jackets you do have to make facings longer so they act like a bit of lining. Looks like you are lining the jacket then the facings become part of the lining and have to be considered in that way. Consider how you will sew the linning in. If it is to be sewn to the facing pieces allow that in your measurements. Don't forget to add your seam allowances also. Check a sewing book on lining coats there are some tricks you'll want to remember.

    happy sewing!

  11. Hi there,
    I am new to Lutterloh system. I am trying to make #221 from the supplemental book it's a top and a skirt. However, I can't grasp how to make the facings:-(((…some of the numbers on the back piece of the pattern is not attached, so is that for the facings only ?has anyone made this before? I'd appreciate any feedback.

  12. Bajanbreeze Is this your first pattern to make? Have you made your fitting Vest? Very important. As for Pattern #221 supplemental there are many supplements we have no idea which one you are using. As you can see in the posting here, the hatch marks are facings. You can just trace that from the pattern once you make it.

    As for the numbers not attached? I need more information about what else is on the page.

    If you don't have a fitting vest pattern, check our side bar for one of the web sites providing the free vest patterns.

  13. WOW!!! You have answered all the questions I had regarding facings. I couldn't figure out how to make a pattern piece for the facings. I have had the Lutterloh Pattern Making System for 3 years and couldn't make anything because I didn't know how to do facings. I love your blog and plan to do a lot of reading and learning as I begin to make patterns. Thanks!

  14. Glad this helped you out! That is my goal to keep you all designing and sewing!

  15. Could you tell me what supplement the test is from. I am looking for a pattern like this.