Two Ways to Add Facing

Why use facing instead of binding? Sometimes the binding on a quilt or wall hanging just doesn’t work aesthetically – maybe your design goes all the way to the edge of the quilt, or as with this Courthouse Steps mini quilt it would take up too much space. The finished “steps” are only 3/4″ wide, so having the binding take another 1/4″ to 1/2″ away from the outer most “steps” would change the symmetry to the block. Binding would also alter the pattern of blue on blue and yellow on yellow because no matter which color I used half the blocks would end up with blue on yellow. Facing is the solution! As an added bonus, the first method of adding facing also gives you a way to hang the quilt. A double win!

Method 1:

Prepare the strips

To start, cut strips for each side of your mini quilt at 2 1/2″ wide. The strips need to be approximately 5″ – 6″ shorter than the sides. Fold the strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press.

Prepare the corner triangles

Cut (4) 5″ squares, and press them in half diagonally. This time I used the same fabric as the backing, but that really doesn’t matter – you can use scraps or muslin or whatever you have on hand.

Optional: Add a label

If you want to label your quilt, now is a good time to do so – I opened up one of my folded triangles and sewed on one of my Blue Beagle Quilts labels, then refolded it. You could sew through the triangle without opening it, the back really won’t show.

Place facing pieces on the front

Now, on the FRONT of your mini quilt – first place the triangles on each corner. If you added a label, make sure it’s facing DOWN. Then place the folded strips along the sides of the quilt and ON TOP of the triangles. All raw edges should be toward the outside of the quilt. The folded edges go toward the center. You can see where the strips are roughly 3″ from each corner. Clip or pin all this together.

Sew the facing pieces

Take the quilt to your machine and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew all around the edge, pivoting at the corners. Carefully trim the seam allowance at the corners, but be careful not to snip through your stitching.

Turn the triangles and strips to the back

Now, turn the triangles right side out toward the back of the quilt, pushing the corners out with a chop stick or your finger. Be careful not to poke too hard, you don’t want to make a hole. If you accidentally poke through the stitching line, just turn the triangle back to the front and re-sew.

Fold the facing strips over the the back side. You need to turn the seam allowance to the back as well, not just the facing like you do with binding. You don’t want any of the facing to end up showing from the front. Press well. Clip. As an optional step, you can top stitch the edge of the quilt, from the front, to hold down that seam allowance.

Hand sew the facing to the back

Almost done! Now, just hand sew the edge of the facing down. Use a whip stitch, and without going through the front of the quilt, make small stitches through the backing and batting, to hold the facing down. When you get to the corner triangles, just hold them out of the way and reach in there to stitch the last little bit of facing. Using this method with the corner triangles simplifies attaching the facing – no need to fuss with mitering the corners!

A way to hang your quilt

Remember when I said this method also gives you a way to hang your quilt? Well that’s another plus for those triangles! Just insert wooden dowels behind the triangles, both on the top and on the bottom. You can hang the top dowel on a small nail or two, and the bottom dowel will keep the quilt hanging straight, and will add some weight to pull down any wavy edges. Yay! Two birds with one stone. If your mini quilt sags a little bit in the middle, you can take a few stitches through the backing and batting and go around the dowel in the middle – essentially sewing the dowel to the quilt back.

As another option, you can also use thumb tacks inside the triangles (instead of dowels) – think of them as little pockets for the tacks. This way you don’t have to actually stick a tack through your quilt. With the tacks already stuck into the triangle fabric, just push the tacks into the wall from the front of the quilt – you can’t even see the tacks once the quilt is hanging. Corner triangles can be added with regular binding, it works just as well.

Method 2:

This method uses only strips – no triangles! Here’s a little panel I quilted for a demo:

Prepare the strips

Cut two 2 1/2″ wide strips the same length as the top and bottom of your quilt. Cut two more 2 1/2″ wide strips about one inch shorter for the sides of your quilt.

Place the strips on the front

On the front of your quilt, place the first two strips on the top and bottom edges. All the raw edges should be together toward the outside.

Take the two strips that are shorter and place them on the sides, on top of the other strips. These should be 1/2″ (about a thumb width) short of the edge – you don’t want these to go all the way to the corner to help reduce bulk.

Sew facing strips

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around the entire perimeter of the quilt. Pivot and do a double stitch at the corners. Trim the corners close to the stitching lines. The end of the strip on top should not be sewn down at this point. See second photo below.

Turn facing strips to the back and hand stitch

Turn the strips to the back and poke out the corners. Be careful not to poke through your stitching! You can see how the free edge is now enclosed. Give the facing a good pressing and place clips all around the quilt. Hand sew the facing to the back of the quilt just like in Method 1.

And you’re done!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

As a post script – what blog post or tutorial would be complete without a dog standing on my quilt??