Sewing piping is easier than you might think! A very trendy and hip addition to modern clothing, piping is now a must-have when making clothes. Whether you are, for example, making a jacket or dress from scratch, or whether you are looking to spice up some clothes you already own, piping is the most elegant option.
The first thing you need, is, of course, a suitable base. Stiffer, or thicker fabrics are more suitable for this as they keep their shape. You also have to consider colours. You get the best result from using contrast. A black dress might look good with white or orange piping, whereas a colourful jacket might look better with solid black piping. There is no right or wrong choice, but some things work better than others.
Here’s a helpful video that shows just how easy it is to make a decorative pillow, complete with piping:
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Do you have a favourite scarf that you wear with your dress? Make the piping the colour of the scarf. A pair of shoes? A hairband? The possibilities are endless.
When you have decided on the colour, you need to start making the piping. You may already have some ready-made piping, in which case you can skip this step. Making the piping itself is not a whole lot of work, but if you can find some piping that works for you, feel free to use it.
In order to make the piping, you need to cut a piece of your desired fabric. A good way to do this is to fold your fabric at a 45 degree angle, and to then cut your bias strips. You will want to cut between 1.5 inches and 2 inches per strip. That will leave you with ample fabric to sew into the final product (something you may just find yourself in dire need of).
Then, you need to connect the two bias strips at a 90 degree angle. Sew across the overlap and trip the overhanging ends. Repeat this process until you have a long enough tape for your project. Lay the entire tape down with the inside up, and lay across the cording. You will then need to fold it in half, and pin down the second half. Every few inches, use pins to secure it.
Once you are done, double-check that it is done evenly, so that there isn’t much difference in length on either side. When you are done with that, put the zipper foot onto your sewing machine and set it to the longest possible stitch setting. This is not the final time this part will be sewn, so make sure that you don’t sew it across too tightly or too closely to the cording. That would make it too stiff and no longer suitable to be sewn into the final product.
When you finish with the last step, cut the piping to the length that you need it to be, leaving approximately an inch extra on each side. Now it’s time to trim the seam allowances to be the same length as the two pieces of fabric it will be placed between. Simply pin it in place in the right spot so you can easily see how much that is.
When that’s done, place (if you haven’t already) the piping on the right side of the garment, the corded part away from the edge, ie inwards, towards the project. You can pin it again to make sure it stays in place. Set your sewing machine to a 4mm stitch, and sew the two parts together.
Next, place the other half of the fabric on top, right side facing down (rough side facing up), pin it again, and sew that next. Here it’s important to sew as closely to the piping as possible. Use your fingers to (carefully!) feel whether you are in the right spot. If you don’t have much confidence in this part, feel free to practice this on fabric scraps beforehand.
Using a piping foot on your sewing machine can also help with this and make it easier. And don’t worry if you aren’t close enough, you can stitch another line over. When that is done, simply trim the rest of the fabric and finish your seams the same way you normally do.
If you flip over your work, you’ll see your shiny new piping, ready to impress! If you are sewing piping for something with a lot of curves or edges (a bag maybe? Or a hat? The possibilities are endless), feel your way around the finished product to make sure it’s all nice and tight. If it isn’t, a few spots might need another pass with the sewing machine to stay in place properly.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your piping products, have a look at fashion catalogues or pinterest. You may not specifically find something that you want to make, but you’re sure to find inspiration!