Understitching is a useful sewing technique for creating neat, professional-looking finishes on facings. Most commonly used for faced necklines, such as the Fable Dress, understitching will prevent the facing from rolling to the outside of the garment.
Here's a simplified example of what understitching looks like. Of course, the neckline of a garment isn't a straight line, so continue reading below to see how to understitch a garment facing.
1. Here, the lining and main fabric have been sewn right sides together. The turquoise fabric below is the main fabric, and the checked fabric is the lining.
2. The seam allowance is pressed towards the lining.
3. A line of understitching has been stitched through the seam allowance and facing, about 1/8" (3mm) from the seam line (the understitching in red for visibility).
This is how the understitching looks from the wrong side...
...and this is how the understitching looks from the right side:
4. Now, the facing is flipped so that it is right side out and pressed for a neatly-finished edge that won't roll.
Understitching a neckline
1. Stitch the facing to the neckline of garment, as instructed in pattern, then clip curves.
2. Press the seam allowance up toward the facing.
3. Stitch a line about 1/8" (3mm) from the seam on the facing side (stitched in red in photo below).
This line of stitching will go through the seam allowance and the facing only (not the exterior garment fabric).
Depending on the shape of the neckline, it can be difficult to get right into the corners, so just stitch as far as you can.
4. Here is how it looks from the right side, with the line of understitching visible on the facing.
4. Flip the facing to the inside of the garment and give the neckline a good press.
The facing will now stay on the inside of the garment where it belongs, with no topstitching necessary!
Read about more sewing techniques here: