Finishing a Quilt with a Facing – Tutorial from Susan Brubaker Knapp

Of all the ways of finishing a quilt, creating a facing will give an art quilt the most contemporary, clean look, says Susan Brubaker Knapp.

finishing a quilt butterfly Susan brubaker knapp
Butterfly quilt by Susan Brubaker Knapp. Facing gives
the quilt a more contemporary finish than a quilt binding.

Susan, who admits to actually enjoying the quilt finishing process, also thinks facing-rather than binding-a quilt makes it look less like a quilt and more like a piece of art.

Facing is certainly no more work than attaching a binding. Susan shows you how to do it and offers tricks for getting a polished finish in her new Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, Fabulous Finishes: Seven Techniques for Binding, Facing, Framing, & Hanging a Quilt.

Here are Susan’s basic steps to finish a quilt with a facing.

1. Measure the top and bottom of your quilt and cut 2 pieces of fabric the length of that measurement plus 2″.

2. Place the top and bottom facing pieces on the front of your quilt and measure the distance between the facing pieces, plus 2″. Cut 2 side facing pieces to this length.

3. Turn over the strips ¼” and press.

finishing a quilt measuring side strips
Above: Measure your side facing strips so they overlap
the top and bottom strips by about 1″ on each end.
finishing a quilt with facing hand stitching
Pin the facing, then sew a running stitch around
the outer perimeter, making sure not to stitch into
the front of the quilt.
finishing a quilt completed
The the back side, showing the completed
quilt finishing technique.

4. With right sides together and the raw edge flush with the edge of the quilt, place your top strip. Start from one 2″ side of the facing, backstitch, and then stitch down to ¼” from the end of the quilt. Pivot, stitch along the length of the top ¼” from the other end, pivot, and stitch down the other 2″ side, and backstitch. Use a ¼” seam allowance and a walking foot to keep the fabric from slipping. Stitch the opposite end of the quilt facing the same way.

5. Place your first side strip along one side of the quilt, allowing the ends to overlap the top and bottom facing by the same amount on each end. Using a ¼” seam allowance and the walking foot, back stitch and then stitch down the entire length of the side facing, backstitching at the end. Repeat on the other side.

6. Staystitch along the sides of the facing fabric, 1/8″ from the seam, backstitching at each end. This will help keep the finished edge clean and lying flat. Repeat with the top and bottom facings, nudging your presser foot into the corner as far as you can (you will not be able to get all the way into the corner).

7. Trim the corners and turn the piece, using a blunt tool to poke out the corners.

8. Press, making sure the front edges of the quilt roll slightly to the back, so that none of the facing shows on the front. Pin the facing in place to keep it flat for the next step.

9. With a needle and thread that matches your facing fabric, make a running stitch about ¼” from the edge of the quilt. Make sure you stitch through the facing and backing fabrics, but not through to the front of the quilt. When you have finished, hand stitch the turned-under edges of the facing to the back of the quilt with a fell stitch.

Finish it off with a quilt label and quilt sleeve.

Susan makes it so easy to follow her directions for finishing a quilt, whether you want to learn quilt binding techniques, how to make a quilt hanging sleeve, or how to frame a quilt. Plus, her hints and tips are invaluable. Fabulous Finishes is, truly, fabulous.

P.S. What’s your favorite way of finishing a quilt? Leave your answer below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Binding & Finishing, Quilting Daily Blog

11 thoughts on “Finishing a Quilt with a Facing – Tutorial from Susan Brubaker Knapp

  1. If you “understitch” the facings to the seam allowances (by machine through all layers, close to the attachment seam line) as we used to do in finishing facings on garments, you can avoid the hand stitching step before sewing down the facings to the back of the quilt. Understitching prevents the facing’s rolling to the right side.

  2. I have used a facing for wall quilts–but I am confounded by step #8. Do you mean to say that none of the facing shows on the BACK?
    Vicki Hogan ( from snowed-in North Carolina)

  3. I had the same thought as ClareK regarding the understitching that we use in sewing clothing.
    Also, what width are you cutting your facing strips? I’ve done a similar facing technique, but I also made the top strip wider, leaving the upper side edges open about 2″, and used it as the sleeve too.

  4. I’ve done a binding finish on most of my quilts, but I have done one with a faced edge finish. Very fresh and clean. I will try it again. Some of my quilts just have a binding, and no borders to look more like a “snapshot”. Reading through the directions above, I guess I “oops” when I did my facing. I mitered the corners on the facing, which would allow for understitching (very close into the corners) the facing before making the miter. Different strokes, different folks.

  5. I have just put my first facing on an art quilt and was pleased with the results as it gave the design an added dimension. Tried the wider top strip to use as hanging sleeve but could not get it to hang right so resorted to binding the top for strength.

  6. After reading it over three times I find I’ll probably get it my tenth time or when I try it. 🙂 Just for people like me would you consider adding words that seem too simple so that we can understand please. As well as the pictures, if you could use the same colours in the examples it would help define what is the front and back as well as the front and back of the facing. For instance in the photos I am not seeing where the turned under 1/4 inch is. It seems the first two pieces are the width of the quilt, yet the directions say plus 2″ why? I am not understanding yet. Do you have a more detailed explanation?

  7. Hi,

    The post here gives you Susan’s complete instructions for creating a facing, and we have shown a few “stills” from the Workshop to illustrate the process and give you a taste of what the video is like.

    However, since it is taken from her video, the best way to comprehend the process and get the “more detailed explanation”–is to watch Susan in action in the Workshop. I promise you, it’s worth it.

  8. On quilts made to use on a bed, I make the backing wider, trim it to the width I want, turn it to the front and hand sew. Could stitch in the ditch, too. On wall hangings, I use a fabric that looks like wood and make a frame. I usually use tabs at the top but could add a hanging sleeve and turn the tabs under when I wanted to hand it that way. Different strokes ……

  9. I just used your tutorial for facing a miniature quilt. I only changed one thing. I don’t like to pivot around a corner so I sew edge to edge instead. Thanks for the great tutorial.