How To Make Piping!

Let’s make some piping today!

If you’re not familiar, piping is the edging on pillows, cushions and all sorts of home decor items. Sometimes, you’ll find it on backpacks and clothing as well.

Here are some photos of piping. This pillow has thick piping around the edge.


This piping is used as decorative trim on a couch:


I originally wrote this post as part of covering a bench seat cushion, but you can use these instructions for making piping on any project you are working on.

(If you’ve decided not to use piping on your cushion, stay tuned for the instructions on putting the cushion together in the next post to follow.)

To begin, you’ll need to purchase some cording. To figure the amount you’ll need, read through this post on How to Make a Cushion Cover..Bench Seat..Part One .

I found some cording made out of cotton in the upholstery section of my local JoAnn Fabric store. They are not very expensive and are sold by the yard.

Cording comes in several thicknesses depending on the look you are going for. Here are two:


In the following directions, I will be using contrasting fabrics in these diagrams so that you can see the piping better. I’ll also use contrasting thread so it’s easier to see.

Now take the fabric that you are going to make piping with and fold it at a 45 degree angle. Can you see that I just took one corner and matched it to the edge on the opposite side of the fabric?  (Refer to the photo below).

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Now, looking at the photo below, use a straight edged ruler (see-through rulers rule!) and  line it up on the folded edge (the diagonal edge of the fabric). Do you see that I lined it up on the 1″ mark? This is so that when I cut it, I will actually get a 2″ strip (because it is on the fold.) What I want is a 2″ wide strip. If you don’t have a rotary cutter, go ahead and mark right on the fabric and make a straight line and then cut it with scissors. Otherwise, cut it with the rotary cutter on the mat (not on your countertop or carpet or anything you value!)

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Once you have that strip cut out, move the ruler over to the TWO inch mark  and cut again. (Be careful not to cut at the one inch mark anymore because you no longer have a fold).

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Cut as many strips as you need to get the length for the top and bottom pieces of the cushion. That means for this cushion, I need 204″ for the top and 204″ for the bottom.

You may need to join some strips together to make the total amount you need. To do that, position them like I have them in the photo below:

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Mark a dotted line 1/4″ from the edge as shown (above). This will become your stitching line. Do you see how the top strip is perpendicular to the bottom strip? That is most important. Next, line up the dotted line to the edges of the strip that is underneath. Now, stitch on that line. (You may want to pin it in place before you stitch.)

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Now, trim off that extra fabric to the right side of the seam so that you have a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Press the seam open and lay it flat. You don’t have to have the edges perfect; this is close enough:

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Now, turn the strip over and place the cording inside. To clarify, cording is the “string” inside the strip of fabric. Piping is what you call the strip of fabric with the cording inside, all made up. Place the cording down the middle of the strip and fold the strip over the top and pin it.sewing blog 098 Now it has become the piping!











You are ready to stitch the piping to the top piece of fabric. In this photo, the main fabric is solid gold. Leave about 3 inches of the edge of the piping unstitched. We need that loose right now so that when we stitch all the way around the fabric, we need to have some left to join the beginning to the end pieces. Place the piping along the middle of one long edge of the main fabric piece. This makes it easier to join the end pieces together later. Use either a piping foot or a zipper foot. This is a piping foot:

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As you can see, the piping fits in the groove under the foot. I move the needle one position to the right when I sew piping in. It gives it a tight fit.

This is the zipper foot:

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When using the zipper foot, you’ll want to make sure your needle is positioned all the way to the left side or it will hit the zipper foot and break.

Stitch all the way down the side of the fabric and stop when you are 1/2″ away from the end, right before the corner. Remember, we have 1/2″ seam allowances, so that’s why we are stopping here. Looking at the photo above, you’ll stop with your needle down into the fabric.

Then, with the needle still in the fabric, lift the presser foot and pivot, or turn, the fabric and the piping toward you:

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You’ll want to clip a little snip into the fabric right at the corner so that the piping lays flatter, like this:

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As you can see, once I turned the corner, I put the presser foot down and continued sewing on the next side.

Continue those same steps all the way around your fabric top.

To finish the two raw edges, match up the ends as shown:

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This process may look familiar. It’s the same thing we did when we joined strips together to make one long one. Once you figure out where the end should end up, put a pin there. You may have to pin the two pieces together where the dotted line is and check to see that it’s a snug fit. If not, adjust the lower strip until you get it right where you want it. Now, mark the top strip as shown with a marker showing the 1/4″ seam allowance.

Stitch along that line being careful not to catch the cording in the seam.

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Trim the cording so that when the 2 pieces butt up together they lay flat against one another like this:

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Now, stitch the rest of the seam closed like this:

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Follow the instructions in exactly the same way for the bottom piece.

On the next post, we’ll cover how to put the cushion together. You’re almost done now!