How to Make and Use Piping


Piping is so hot right now, and with good reason! It’s a great way to add a pop of colour to an item and it gives a professional touch. But it’s not as scary as it looks. I’m going to show you how to make it and add it to any seam! Straight, curved, corners…you name it, you can pipe it! I’ll also show you the quick way and the invisible way to finish off the joins. Pick which one works best for you.

The fabric featured in this tutorial is the lovely Fort Firefly for Birch Fabrics. Inspired by nature and made from 100% certified organic premium quilting weight cotton. The fabric is kindly supplied by Fabricworm.
How to Make Piping

You’ll need:

Your chosen fabric or bias binding

Cord the width you want your piping to be

Sewing supplies and zipper foot
1.1 Piping cords

Cording can be purchased in all a huge array of sizes. You can also use anything lying around the house, so long as it’s washable. I’ve used plastic tubing in the past. Just make sure the cord is the thickness you want.

1. Piping

You can use store bought bias binding to make piping. It saves you the step of making bias strips, but the colour selection can be limited. If you can find the colour you want, simply iron it open into a flat strip.

To make flat piping, omit any cord and press your bias strip in half.

If you can’t get the store bought binding you want, cut your own bias strips. Here’s a how to if you’re unsure. The width you need to cut your strips is double the width of the seam allowance you are sewing the piping to, plus the circumference of the cording. Want it a bit less wordy:

width of bias strip = 2 x width of seam allowance + circumference of cord

1.2 Measure piping
1.3 Measure Piping

To measure the circumference of the cord, take a strip of paper and wrap it around the cord. Pinch the paper with your fingernail where it joins. Use the 2 marks from your nails to measure the circumference. I’ve gone over them with a pen to make it easier to see in the picture.

2. Piping

Once you have your bias strips ready, pin the cord inside, matching up the edges of the strip. Don’t worry if the ends don’t match up.

3. Piping
4. Piping

Attach your zipper foot and put the edge of the foot right up against the cord. Move your needle all the way over as close to the cord you can get. Stitch all the way along to create your piping.

I like to then stitch across the ends to make sure the cord is secure. Only do this if you are using cording you can safely stitch through.

5. Piping

Your piping is done!
How to Attach Piping

6. Piping
7. Piping

If your piping is going along a straight seam, simply pin it along the edge, lining up the raw edge of the fabric and the piping.

If you need to go around a corner, clip into the seam allowance of the piping at the corner.

8. Piping
9. Piping

For an outside curve, clip the seam allowance of the piping at regular intervals to allow the piping to stretch around the curve.

For an inside curve, notch the seam allowance by cutting triangles out of it at regular intervals. This will allow the piping to bend around and stop the seam allowance bunching up and adding bulk to your seams.
How to Finish the Join in Piping – The Quick Way

For this method, you will need your piping at least 2″ longer than the seam you are attaching it to.

10. Piping

Overlap the piping and bend the ends out past the raw edge.

Now that your piping is all pinned in place, baste it to your fabric by stitching along it, sewing exactly over the stitches from making the piping. I use a long stitch length and a slightly contrasting thread in my bobbin. The contrasting thread helps when you stitch your other piece of fabric on.

Note that if your needle is shifted to the left, your seam allowance will not be lined up with the correct guide line on the machine bed.
How to Finish the Join in Piping – The Invisible Way

The more professional way to do finish the join is done as you’re sewing. For this method, you will need your piping at least 4″ longer than the seam you are attaching it to.

11. Piping
12. Piping

When you start basting the piping down, start 2 inches down from the start of the piping. When you have sewn all the way around, stop at the beginning of the piping.

Cut the start of the piping off leaving 1 inch free from the beginning of your stitches. (The bottom piping in the picture above right). This should be about an inch away from your presser foot. Cut the tail end of the piping so it overlaps the start by 1 inch. Then, unpick the stitches from the tail of the piping up to the presser foot. (The top piping in the picture above right).

13. Piping
14. Piping

The cord will now be loose. Pull the binding back to reveal the cord and trim it to exactly meet the start of the piping.

15. Piping
16. Piping

Fold half an inch of the loose binding to the inside. Tuck the start of the piping inside the binding and straighten it all up with your fingers.

The start of the piping will now be neatly hidden inside the binding.

17. Piping

Finish your stitching to come back to where you started. Your binding is now basted to your fabric.

16.1 Piping

All that’s left to do is place your other fabric piece on top, right sides together. I like to flip this over so that the piece with the piping attached is the top piece and use the contrasting bobbin thread as my stitch guide. Sew the seam, stitching on top of the basting stitches or even closer to the piping if you can.

18. Piping on Oliver + S Bucket Hat

Inspired by this blog post, I’ve added some piping to this Oliver + S Bucket Hat. It’s breaks up the pattern from the side and the brim nicely.


Thank you for the fabulous tutorial, Abby!

Now, on to the giveaway! Fabricworm has graciously sponsored a giveaway of 2 yards of the winner’s choice from the Fort Firefly line!


Simply enter via the Rafflecopter below…and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway