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Making a facing/binding exactly the right length for an opening

The Mimi Blouse from Tilly and the Buttons’ book Love At First Stitch has some lovely pleats on the short sleeves, with a facing inside the cuff. My full review of the pattern can be found here.

Mimi Blouse sleeve showing the pleats

Eager to get them attached, I didn’t do any adjustments to the fit of the sleeves so the pleats as marked on the pattern didn’t translate very well to my garment and hung oddly (totally my bad), so I unpicked them and pinned the folds again to make them look better. I found this very fiddly and used a combination of another person and a lot of trial and error, pinning and repinning.

The instructions then direct you to sew the facing into a circle first, then attach it to the sleeve. In changing the pleats, I suspected the sleeve opening may be a slightly different circumference now to the original pattern, and therefore not match the sleeve facings. To guard against any mismatch, I did the following:

(The photos below were set up for demonstration on the finished garment and so there is no raw edge to the sleeve and the original facing is attached)

Tip: Making a facing/binding exactly the right length for an opening

This technique can be applied to many situations such as a neckline or armscye, wherever you are attaching a strip of fabric or binding to a circular opening. I like the additional accuracy of this technique compared to just measuring.

Step 1: Pin the facing / binding to the opening, before sewing it into a circle

Lay your facing on the sleeve, right sides together and raw edges level. Place the first pin at the underarm seam leaving your seam allowance free, in this case 1.5cm.

Mimi Blouse sleeve facing being pinned to the sleeve with ends open

Continue pinning all the way round until the facing overlaps again.

(As noted above, photos were taken on the finished garment, hence the original finished facing is visible on the inside of the sleeve)

Mimi Blouse facing pinned to the sleeve with ends open

Step 2: Mark where the overlap is on both ends

This will indicate where you need to sew the seam to close the facing / binding. In my case the facing was too long, in which case carry on as below. If it is too short you need to cut another longer piece and then continue.

Mark the overlapping piece of facing level with the underarm seam and then join the line. I used a Prym Aqua Trick Marker which just needs a dab of water to remove the mark.

Then mark the other end of the facing underneath in the same way.

Mimi Blouse sleeve showing end of the facing being marked with Prym Aqua Trick Marker to indicate where seam should be sewn

Step 3: Pin the facing together along the line

You can remove the entire facing to sew the seam if you find this easier, but this way just saves repinning again when sewing the facing to the sleeve. Remove enough pins to allow you to put the two ends of the facing right sides together, pinning along the marked lines ensuring the pin pierces through the lines on both sides.

Step 4: (Optional) Glue the seam allowance together to help hold it in position

Since the next stage is now to sew along the pinned line and therefore having to remove the pin, I used a Sewline Fabric Glue Pen on the seam allowance. I knew I would be trimming this part, so it just helped hold it together whilst sewing. You could also use pins away from the line or nothing at all and just hold it together with your fingers if you can hold it accurately enough.

Mimi Blouse sleeve facing being glued with Sewline Fabric Glue Pen to hold it together before being sewn into a circle

Step 5: Sew the seam of the facing

Sew along the marked line, removing enough pins to allow you to fit it under the presser foot comfortably without catching the sleeve.

Step 6: Trim the seam allowance and pin back this section to the sleeve

Trim the seam allowance and pin the loose section back to the sleeve. You can now continue with sewing the facing to the sleeve knowing you won’t be left with a flappy bit at the end!

My full review of the Mimi Blouse can be found here.

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(I have no affiliations, I'm just a keen buyer and user)

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Hello and welcome!

I'm Kay, and welcome to my blog where I share tales of my sewing journey, complete with mishaps, mistakes and solutions to help make your journey a smoother one.

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