Sewing Basics: How to Add Piping

Corded piping puts a neat, attractive finish on many home-sewing projects.
Piping adds a professional look to pillow projects.

Dressmaker details turn average pillows into works of art. Here's a simple way to boost the style of your toss pillows: Trim them with piping made from the same fabric or a complementing one. Use piping as an accent or to define a pillow's shape, from standard squares to shapely stars.

See below for step-by-step instructions for making and applying piping.

1. Find the bias

Cutting strips on the bias makes the fabric easier to wrap around the cording and around the corners of your finished project. To find the bias (a line diagonal to the grain of the fabric), make sure the edges of your fabric are cut along the grain. Fold one of the corners diagonally across the fabric, and finger-press the fold. The pressed line is the bias line.

2. Cut the Strips

The cut width of the bias strips should equal the circumference of the cord plus 1 inch for seam allowances. Align a clear acrylic ruler along the pressed line at the width you want to cut your bias strips. Use a rotary cutter to cut the strips along the edge of the ruler.

3. Join the strips

With right sides together, lay the strips at right angles to each other. Pin and sew diagonally 3/16-inch from the edge.

4. Press seam flat

Open and press the seam flat. Trim away the corners that extend beyond the strip edge.

5. Wrap the cord

Lay the cord in the center on the wrong side of the bias strip. Fold and pin the fabric over the cord, aligning the raw edges. Using a zipper or piping foot attachment on your sewing machine, sew close to the cord along the length of the strip. The stitching should tightly encase the cord. Do not trim the seam allowance -- it will be used to attach the piping to the project.

Cut the required length of piping for your project, adding 4 inches for each joined length if needed.

6. Attach the piping

Lay the piping on the right side of the fabric, aligning the raw cut-edge of the piping with the raw cut-edge of the fabric. Position the piping so the rounded side faces the center of the project; pin in place. Using a zipper or piping foot, baste the piping in place.

To overlap two piping ends, unravel each end of the cording and cut out about half of the cording strands. Twist the two ends together, and hand-stitch around the twisted joint to hold it together. Re-cover the cording, folding the raw edge of the top strip under.

With right sides facing, lay the backing panel on top of the panel with the attached piping. Using the basted seam line as a guide, sew through all fabric layers.


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