How to Use Piping (Part 1)

comments (3) October 7th, 2008     

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Shannon_Dennis Shannon Dennis, contributor
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Three sizes of cording.
On this piping foot, notice the perfectly sized groove on the left side.
Move your needle to the right of center to stitch down the piping.
Three sizes of cording.

Three sizes of cording.

Photo: Shannon Dennis

Piping is one of the simplest ways to add a little touch of style to your projects. In this series, let's look at piping, single welt, and double welt. I'll show you how each of them is made, some tips to keep it looking top-notch, and where to use the technique. For this first post, we'll check out piping.

Shown below are three sizes of cording. Cording is the raw, wound threads/fibers that are twisted into a thicker yarn. You can see the difference in size is huge! Only when cording is covered with a bias-cut fabric does it become piping.

Three sizes of cording.

In my sewing, I have learned that there is a difference between doing a technique and using the best tools to create a beautiful addition to my projects. About seven years ago, I started learning about accessory feet for my machine. This foot, the piping foot, was the first one I ever used. You can use a zipper foot or narrow zipper foot to sew your piping in place. It will work; however, you will fight your fabric and the results will not always be the greatest, especially around points, corners, and curves. This piping foot, as well as most others, has a perfectly shaped groove/tunnel on the underside of the foot that channels the piping to precisely the right position.

The groove on the bottom of this foot makes piping incredibly easy.

To show you this technique, we're going to make a small Day of the Dead pillow. Cut two rectangles of fabric 7 inches x 9 inches. When stitching piping, I prefer to use two steps. First, put on your piping foot. Move your needle postion to the right. Begin sewing your piping in place on the right side of the fabric, matching the raw edges. Leave a 2-inch tail of piping unsewn to the pillow edge.

Stitch the piping in place. Make sure to move your needle slightly to the right for the first round of stitching.

About 1/2 inch away from the corner of the fabric, make little cuts/slits into the tape of the piping. This will allow the piping to open up and create a better point in the pillow. Not taking this step will cause you to have very rounded corners and the fabric will usually pucker badly.

Clip the corners so the piping lies flat.

Once you have sewn almost completely around the pillow, gently pull your starting tail toward the outside of the pillow and the ending tail. Cross over the original starting point.

Cross the beginning and end tails, and stitch over them for a nice finished look.

Sew the second fabric rectangle in place right sides together with the piping foot still on. Move your needle to the center position. Leave a 3-inch opening. Turn the pillow right side out and stuff through the opening. Hand-stitch the opening closed.

A three-thread serger stitch will finish off your seam beautifully.

Find out more information here on the Day of the Dead , the Mexican celebration of life.  Also check out this Alexander Henry Fabric.



posted in: how-to, pillow, piping, home dec, cording

Comments (3)

MsJoybird01 writes: I have a Janome 9000, I would love to find out where I can purchase this piping foot and if it will fit my machine?

Posted: 5:35 pm on May 1st
cirone writes: thanks for the sewing tutorial! i was given my mom's sewing machine when i was in junior high and have just been sorta hacking it since then. it's great to learn how to use something out of that box of sewing machine doodads!
Posted: 1:00 pm on October 22nd
croqzine writes: Thanks for the encouragement about learning how to use your tools properly!! Tools can make all the difference!
Posted: 11:26 am on October 7th
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