Sewing Tips: How to Make & Use Piping

 

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Are you ready for another little sewing lesson?  I wish you could come over and plop yourself down at my sewing table…..because that would make the lesson even easier.  But then I’d have to like straighten up, vacuum, and do the dishes.  Ick.  Haha……okay, I’ll get on that cleaning right after I write this up. 

 

 

Have you ever used piping?  No, we’re not talking frosting.  Piping in sewing is a strip of fabric folded over a cord that is used to trim the edges of fabric.  Piping is found in all sorts of projects.

 

 

See the piping used in these items below?  It just helps define the shape of your fabric…….and gives it a nice punch.

 

(image source, image source, image source, image source)

 

 

 

Here are a few places where I have used piping here on Make It and Love It:

(Pillow, Mary Poppins, Car Seat)

 

 

 

See?  Piping is nice and useful.


 

So if you’ve never made or used any…….it’s time to learn.

 

 

It’s a cool technique to use…..and you can really be creative with the stuff.  But if you can’t find the right color of piping in the store, you can totally  make your own.  No biggee.

 

 

 

Ready to get started?

 

 

Piping only tends to come in a few colors in the store or even online.  Piping is made with a cord and a strip of fabric that is cut on the bias (more on bias here).  So if you can find the right color of bias tape that you need……use that, it’s pre-cut.  If not, grab some fabric from your stash that can be cut into a strip.

 

 

How to make your own piping:

 

Here’s everything you need to make your own.  (Remember, any sized cording will work, depending on the size of piping you want……you’ll just  need a wide enough strip of fabric to go around it.  The standard piping in those pre-made packages is about 1/8 of an inch……so I bought cording that was 1/8 of an inch wide.  And I bought bias tape that was about an inch wide after it was all infolded.)

 

 

First, let’s make some piping from bias tape.  Take your bias tape out of the packaging and iron it flat.

 

 

Then, fold your strip of fabric in half, sandwiching the cording right down the middle, then pin it in place.  (I always keep a bit of cording poking out the end, just so that it doesn’t slip inside.)

 

 

Now, using your zipper foot and changing your needle all the way to the left side (or if you’re sewing on the other side, all the way to the right)……sew the fabric closed, keeping the needle right next to the cording.  Placing your finger nail right next to the cording before it goes under the needle will help you keep things flat and lined up.

 

 

Sew all the way to the end, making sure to backstitch at both ends.  And there you have your long piece of cording.

Oh wait, are your edges uneven and not perfectly lined up?  Don’t worry about it one bit. Mine aren’t either.  And it won’t matter because those edges will never be seen.

 

 

Now, if you can’t find the right color of bias tape, cut your own strip of fabric instead of using bias tap.  But your strip of fabric NEEDS to be cut on the bias.  This will help the piping curve better around corners and slight curves.  (More on making bias tape here.)  Are you unsure how wide to make your strip?  This will help:

 

Decide what size cording you’re using then multiply that by two.  Then decide how big you want your seam allowance to be and multiply that by two.  Then add those two numbers together and that’s how wide you should cut your strip.  For example, I bought cording that was 1/8 inch wide…..so I multiplied that by two, a 1/4 inch.  And then I wanted a 3/8 inch seam allowance…..so I multiplied that by two, 6/8 of an inch, or 3/4 of an inch.  1/4 plus 3/4 is 1.  So I cut my strip 1 inch wide. 

 

 

Then I sewed it together, just like shown above.

 

 

 

How to use Piping:

 

To sew your piping to your fabric, always sew it to one layer of fabric first.  This will help assure the piping is perfectly straight and even.  And if you have piping that does not have a wide enough seam allowance for the project that you’re working on, adjust the piping to lay where it needs to.  For example, let’s say that I am using a 3/4 inch seam allowance for a project but the seam allowance on my piping is less than that.  Just line up the seam on that piping 3/4 of an inch in from the edge and pin it in place.  Then sew it down, making sure to stay 3/4 of an inch away from the edge of the fabric with your seam.  Then place your other piece of fabric on top (with right sides together), line up the two edges of your main fabric and then sew them together using your 3/4 inch seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you’re working with).

 

Then once you open it up, you have a nice line to define this portion of your project. 

 

 

Now, how should you start and stop your piping if you’re going all the way around something?  There are nicer and fancier ways to do this but here’s the quick/no-fuss way to do it.  Let the first end of your piping hang over the edge of your fabric and then start sewing your piping right in place.  When you go all the way around, let your other end go over the fabric and sew right over it, stitching it right in place as well.

 

 

But oh wait, what should you do around a corner?  Good question.  Let’s imagine we’re sewing around a square piece that will be used as a pillow.  Just sew your piping right along the straight edge of fabric, like shown above, then once you get close to the bottom corner, cut a diagonal slit in the extra fabric (seam allowance) of your piping, right where your piping will turn the corner of your main fabric.  Then fold your piping around that corner and continue sewing.

 

 

 

Now, if you’re sewing a pillow, you will sew your other square piece down right on top, with right sides together.  Make sure and use the same seam allowance that you did while attaching your piping.  (If sewing a pillow, you will leave a few inch opening so that you can turn it right side out and then hand-stitch the opening closed when you’re done.  View this tutorial if interested in all the steps.)

 

Once you turn it right side out, you will have a nice strip of piping, lining the outer edge of your project.  And you can also see how the overlapped ends kind of mesh together (over on the right).

 

 

Pretty cool, right?  Now you don’t have to be afraid of piping any longer.  It really isn’t so bad. 

 

Have fun.

 

 

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Filed under Featured, Sewing, Sewing Tips

Comments

77 Responses to “Sewing Tips: How to Make & Use Piping”
  1. 1
    carrie says:

    thank you for this post! I just posted the other day about a slipcover I made sans piping… next time I’ll use your info. to be not so afraid. xoxo

  2. 2
    Jessica says:

    This is a little detail that I never noticed before, and now I’m sure I’ll be seeing it every where! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for posting.

  3. 3
    Valerie Nelson says:

    GREAT tutorial… very informative! :)

  4. 4
    Tracy says:

    Thank you! I have been wondering about piping! Ashley, you are awesome!

  5. 5
    Kristi says:

    You have the most AMAZING timing.
    I just started recovering a chair.
    Thanks.
    Again.

  6. 6
    noemy says:

    very nice tutorial, like all of your tutorials, I had been using piping for almost everything, pillows, duvet, upholstery, etc. etc. most of the time I make my own.
    Thank you Ashley!!

  7. 7
    Andrea says:

    Piping is a too little but easy to use detail in home sewing, thanks so much for singing it’s praises and showing us just how easy it can be.

  8. 8
    Lynette says:

    Thanks. I think I may not be as scared of piping anymore. You made it seem a ton easier than my bernina instructor and her fancy foot that was too expensive to only use once in awhile. Zipper foot….check! I have that one and even know which one it is. :)

  9. 9
    jaci vawter says:

    Great….thanks…a friend was brave enough to ask me to make bassinet bedding for her soon to be lil girl…I was thinking it needed a ruffle or piping or something on top

  10. 10
    Jennifer says:

    What a fantastic tutorial! I’m Pinning this! Thanks so much!

  11. 11
    Edie says:

    hi there, me again he (your proof reader LOL)… just noticed this and was unsure what you mean…
    “Now, if you can’t find the right color of bias tape, cut your own strip of fabric. But it NEEDS to be on the fold. (More on making bias tape here.) Are you unsure how wide to make your strip? This will help:”

    Do you mean… “But it NEEDS to be on the bias.”
    Otherwise I am not sure what you mean by… ” needs to be on the fold”

    Great tutorial, I always wondered how to make my own cording, as it would be cute on mini pillow pin cushions. (now to find the cord LOL)

    Thank you Ashley, as always great tutorial, and fantastic photos.

  12. 12
    mrsblocko says:

    Woah! This is awesome. I’ve been terrified of piping. You make it all seem so easy.

    Thank you!

  13. 13
    Julia says:

    Great tutorial!!! I’ve been wanting to learn how to make piping! Now I can finally tackle that reupholstering project I’ve been wanting to do!!

  14. 14
    Anshu says:

    Ashley you cannot imagine how helpful these tutorials are. You make the life of many sewing enthusiasts so much easier with these comprehensive tutorials. Thanks a lot.
    Anshu

  15. 15
    Fatimah Ashworth says:

    What a coincidence! I was just on Amazon today looking for piping and wondering if you had a tutorial about how to make it. Thanks so much!

  16. 16

    love the info, I have tried piping before and failed, must try it again now that ou make it look so easy. thanks for sharing

  17. 17
    Beth says:

    Amazing! I have used piping a few times on the Made By Rae toddler backpacks and have fallen in love ever since! I had no idea about snipping the corners or how exactly to go about making my own – thanks for the great step by step!

  18. 18
    Rachel says:

    Perfect timing! I have a project waiting that requires piping, and your tips are super helpful! Now I can move forward!

  19. 19
    Julie Snow says:

    Tutorial is beautiful!

    I also did not understand the part about the fold. Did you just mean BIAS?

    Your blog is super awesome!

  20. 20
    Brianne says:

    Great tutorial! I love the colors you chose. Now I need to find a project that needs piping!

  21. 21
    Rachel says:

    Thanks for the tutorial on using piping, I love using piping when I sew my daughters dresses. One thing that I have found that works great especially on side seams and collars is to cut about 1/2- 5/8 in. off each end of the cord so that the cord is “floating” in between the seams. That way you are not dealing with a collar that will not lay flat because of the bulk from the piping and also makes it easier when matching your side seams or anywhere it comes together in a seam. I love your blog by the way, thanks for the work that you put into it!

  22. 22
    Hollymayb says:

    You are a God-send. I have never done piping before mainly because I’m a bit lazy and thought it would be so much effort! Your tutorial here has made it nice and simple. Thank you!

  23. 23
    Lindsay Frye says:

    Hey there!

    I just wanted to let you know because I love your site so much that I decided to feature your button on my ‘blogroll.’

    Thanks for all that you do,
    Lindsay
    http://jalafrye.blogspot.com/p/buttons-i-love.html

  24. 24
    Anni says:

    ashley,
    i have been getting more and more compliments on my sewing recently and I couldn’t figure out what changed. Well I have been reading your blog for over a year and all your tutorials like this one is what has changed. thanks so much!!
    anni

  25. 25

    Thanks for showing this! I’m a beginner sewer, and I’ve skipped piping on a couple of projects because I wasn’t sure how to do it (and didn’t want to ask Mom or Aunt to show me how out of pride, sadly). Now I can impress them! =)

  26. 26
    Erin says:

    Thanks a million, Ashley! I’m working on my baby’s nursery right now, and was just thinking that I wanted to make some throw pillows…but knew in the back of my head I would probably chicken out because I would want them to have piping around the edges, and thought it would be too complicated. Now I have no excuse! Thanks for the easy, step-by-step tutorial…that’s why I follow your blog–you take the ‘complicated’ out!

  27. 27
    Kristina Noall says:

    Great tutorial, as usual! Question for you: I’ve tried making my own bias tape, and it’s been tricky. For one thing, it would not iron really flat (like the store-bought stuff) for the world. Should I wash the fabric with starch? Sorry, I know it’s not totally related, but I’ve been afraid to try again since then…

  28. 28
    Jennifer says:

    Great Tutorial! I was super scared of piping before but you make it look so easy! Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us!

    - jen

  29. 29
    angela r j says:

    So, I’ve followed your blog in my Reader for a while now (I think I found you originally because you lived in Idaho?), and I just have to say that you truly are one of my favorite people when it comes to blogs and tutorials. I love the well-composed, colorful pictures that compliment your wonderful tutorials and explanations. You make me feel like I might actually be able to sew something that I’d want to show off to people. You make it look very do-able. Thank you for all the time I’m sure you spend for each and every post–I really am grateful. I use your website as a reference often. Thank you thank you thank you!

  30. 30
    RobyGiup says:

    Very useful tutorial! Thank you!!!

  31. 31
    Angela Thee says:

    I love piping, it’s such an easy way to add a little pizzazz to project. Great job, thanks for sharing.

  32. 32

    Great tutorial! Piping has always scared me, but with these tips I definitely think it’s do-able!!

  33. 33
    Cheryl says:

    I’ll join the chorus…great timing! I was just getting ready to re-cover my sewing chair and really wanted to include the piping. I’ve never done this before so I was just thinking I’d skip it, but I’m so glad I didn’t! Piping can make such a great accent. Thanks so much.

  34. 34
    sophie says:

    thanks for this very clear tutorial! I particularly like the way you explained how to join the piping when going around, it makes so much sense

  35. 35
    Amber says:

    Great tutorial! Just one question- do you continue to use your zipper foot when you attach the piping to your fabric or switch back to a normal foot?

  36. 36

    Piping is way cool! Let’s say you have brown shoes, white sweater and white skirt that you don’t match up with anything. If used brown piping on the sweater and the skirt – they all match!

    I know that coloring may be a bit off, but you catch my idea.

  37. 37

    This stuff is way too advanced for me, but I still enjoyed your tutorial. Thank you for sharing!

  38. 38
    Amy Carter says:

    You are amazingly talented! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and skills so I can feel inspired and motivated enough to feel like I can do it too- and most of the time, I can. :-) Thanks again!

  39. 39
    Katherine says:

    Thanks so much for the great tutorial! I just finished making my friend a pillow using/making piping the first time and it turned out great!

  40. 40
    Nikell says:

    I’ve never used or made piping before. I can’t wait to try this out. Thanks so much for sharing (^_^)

  41. 41
    marcus says:

    I would recomend buying a piping foot for your sewing machine then pins are not required and you can make piping out of any fabric quickly and professionally. Don’t forget to cut fabric on the bias if it need to curve.

  42. 42
    Aimee says:

    Thank you so much for a great tutorial. I am about to start a project and need to make my own piping. I also read your article on bias, grain, and selvage. SOOOOO Helpful!!

    I have a question though. I’m doing a pillow, and the fabric I want to do the piping with is very narrow. How do I make multiple bias strips and combine them into one longer one?

    -Do I keep cutting strips at a 45 degree angle from the selvage and the sew the strips together and then sew the cord in?
    or
    -Do I cut the strips and sew the cording and then try sew them together onto the pillow separately? I can’t help but think this would look weird.

  43. 43
    Mary Anne says:

    Very clear description of what to do! I wonder if you published the fancier way to sew the ends.

  44. 44
    Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, you’ve saved my life ^o^

  45. 45
    Nancy says:

    I am trying to increase the width of fabric used to make a bedspread. I’ve read on a webside that piping could be used to make a seam. However, I don’t have enough fabric to make it on the bias. As there are no curves involved, can I get away without cutting on the bias?

  46. 46
    Karin Mollee says:

    Hello Ashley!
    I’ve just made 10 meters of the most fantastic piping band according to your instructions. Thank you very much!
    Question: to sew the puping band to the fabric, do you use the zipper foot also?
    Kind regards,
    Karin

  47. 47
    Julia says:

    Hi there, thanks so much for this tutorial, I have made piping once before but I like the way you joined it at the side by overlapping it, I think it really looks very pretty. The tutorial was very easy to follow and very informative. I would like to know if I could make piping from material not cut on the bias, I know you get the elasticity cutting on the bias but I have just made some curtains and would love to use the left over material to make some cushions and I have a lot of waste strips cut from the curtians and wondered if I could us this instead of cutting more strips on the bias. I am sure you’re going to say it has to be on the bias but could I get away with it cut on the straight?

    • 47.1
      Ashley says:

      If you don’t need to add the piping to something with a curve, you could use it cut straight like it is. Without the bias cut, it won’t adjust and conform around curves and corners very well…..but it will work just fine as a straight line.

      Ha…….surprise!! I didn’t say you couldn’t! :)

      -Ashley

    • 47.2
      sew much 4 you says:

      yes

  48. 48
    Heather says:

    Googled “how to make piping” because I want to add piping to a dress though the pattern doesn’t call for it. My mother (who is the one who taught me to sew) told me what a pain in the butt piping is to use and told me not to bother. But, I wasn’t deterred and after reading this post, I know I can do it. Love the idea of using a zipper foot to make piping (which I may have to do for the right color). Thanks so much!!

  49. 49
    Jo Shaffer says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! I have loved the look of piping, but just never tried it before. I am working on a tutorial for upcycling fabric to give it a more expensive look, and I picked up some piping. But, alas with all of my years of sewing I have never used it. In comes my google search, and up pops this awesome tutorial.
    Thanks very much Mam!
    with love,
    Jo

  50. 50
    Kathleen says:

    Thanks so much for your tutorial–I could not figure out how to use piping with a 3/8″ seam allowance for 5/8″ seams.

  51. 51

    Thanks! This was helpful! Silly me, I had my zipper foot on wrong, but once I got that figured out everything went smoothly :)

  52. 52
    Donna says:

    Here’s an old gal’s tip on piping. To keep the piping or the garment fabric from stretching, I attach it (baste it on) with a zig zag stitch first. It’s an extra step, but it allows everything to lie perfectly flat when finished because the zig zag doesn’t put so much stress on the top layer. Then I come back and straight stitch very close to the cord. Same with installation of invisible zippers. Baste in on with a fairly long zig zag stitch. No pulling or stretching! Final stitch is straight stitch, close to the zipper teeth.

  53. 53
    Mitz says:

    I have been reading about piping sincelast two days but only now did i understand it completely. wonderful post and excellent snaps :)) thanks !!!!

  54. 54
    Katie says:

    Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! I have never done piping before, I have always been a little nervouse about it, but you make it look so easy.

  55. 55
    Willowwears says:

    As so many others have said, thank you for this post I’m going to be inserting piping into a dress I am about to make. I didn’t have a clue how to make it or how to insert it.

  56. 56
    sew much 4 you says:

    thanks for the tip. im a regular seamstress, but sometimes it just leaves you. again thanks a lot. happy sewing

Notes and Comments