Sunday, July 04, 2010

perfect piping tutorial.

Jana asked about inserting piping, and the puppy got me up good and early this morning, so I decided to do a little mini-tutorial!

To start with, you need piping and a zipper foot. And 2 seams to sandwich the piping in. (I used piping on the mandarin collar, and bib front of my Burda magazine tunic here.) I buy mini-piping, because I like the narrower width better. The technique would be the same for the larger piping though.

I buy my mini-piping at Elegant Stitches in the package or Farmhouse Fabrics by the yard. Farmhouse Fabrics has a TON of variety. There are dots, checks, florals, solids, name it. They probably have a piping in it.

Step 1: Cut your piping to the length of the seam. I usually walk the piping along the seam because I'm lazy and don't measure very often. Either way will work. I do leave a little "extra", about 1 inch, for security purposes (i.e. I screwed up.)

Step 2: Pin your piping along one seam, matching raw edges. Your piping will be encased between 2 seams, but you sew them separately. Make sure you measure the seam allowance on your piping and make any adjustments to your pattern piece as needed so that they are the same. Otherwise you may end up with perfectly piped seams that don't fit!

Step 3: Place your zipper foot on your machine and slide it so you are sewing to the left. Butt your corded edge of the piping right against the edge of the foot as shown below, just as you would butt the coils of a zipper up to the foot. Note that the piping has a stitched seam; I move my needle position (or position the piping) so that my stitching will fall on top of or just a thread or so to the left of that seam.

I don't know if you can see above (you cal click the picture to enlarge) but the corded edge of the piping will run under the foot. There's a little "ledge" right under where the foot attaches to the machine and it is not flush with the machine bed. It is elevated to allow the zipper coil (or in our case, piping) to run freely under the foot as you sew.

Here's the piping stitched to the first seam (you would stitch the entire seam, I'm just doing a few inches as a sample):

Step 4: Now we will make our piping sandwich! Place your second piece of fabric on top of the piped fabric, right sides together, matching the raw edges.

Flip the sandwich over, keeping everything aligned, so that you can pin in place. We want to stitch from the side that we can see the previous stitching line. That will serve as a guideline for our next stitching:

Step 5: Place your sandwich under the zipper foot, aligning the previous stitching line with the needle. It should fall just under the leading edge of the zipper foot as below:

Stitch, stitch, stitch! Stitch right on top of the previous stitching.

Step 6: Open your sandwich and behold your perfect piping!

I hope this little mini-tutorial was helpful! Something I didn't take a photo of was going around a corner or can clip into the seam allowance of your piping strip before pinning, to make it more moldable. It will then go around any curve or corner. I clip right up to (but not through) the piping stitching. You can pin or hand baste the corner to hold it in place until permanently stitched; I recommend handbasting until you have the hang of it!

Mini-Piping Footnote...If you want to make your own mini-piping, it's super easy! The pros are that its cheaper and you have an unlimited variety of colors and prints available. If you have the fabric, you can make mini-piping. Basically you cut a strip of bias (the width of your seam allowance X 2, plus I usually add 1/16 of an inch for turn of cloth & cord). For the cording, I generally use pearl cotton, but in a pinch I've used sport weight yarn or crochet cotton. You can buy cording for mini-piping too from the sources above.

I press my bias strip in half lightly, then insert the cord into the fold. Stitch as above using a zipper foot, close to the cord.

Have a great day!


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. You have me thinking about piping in the future. It's such a great detail.

  2. Very helpful. I'm wondering, do you not have a piping foot or just not like it? My zipper foot (viking) is much larger and doesn't have the groover under which helps to guide the piping. I have 3 different sized piping feet. g

    ps - what a thought. Actually taking advantage of a quiet house to do something. The dogs had me up at 5:30 yesterday and 6:30 today. I'm hoping for at leat 7 tomorrow. :)

  3. Aw, thank you so much! This answered a lot of questions for me. I think the biggest mistake I was making is that I sewed the sandwich just once, instead of sewing on side first, then adding the next and stitching again. Way more control your way. Thank you!

  4. Great tutorial! I LOVE the tunic- it's gorgeous! BTW, I use that exact same foot to do my piping!

  5. Thank you! So helpful :)

  6. Great tut! Thanks! I love the pop that piping gives!

  7. You read my mind! I was about to experiment with piping, and your tutorial is just the thing I was looking for! Thank you so much for putting it together!

  8. Thanks for a great tutorial.. now imagining what I can do with all that piping I purchased, but was to afraid to use.


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