Learn how to make piping! While most shops have a great variety of bias tape, it is generally harder to find nice piping. Piping is a great decorative finish on all kinds of projects such as cushions, clothing, handbags, and home decor. It adds a bit of class, a pop of color and best of all stops the edges from wearing. Here is how to make piping for your sewing projects.
How to Make Piping – Supplies
To make bias tape, simply cut strips at a 45-degree angle to the selvage. I also have a tutorial on how to make continuous bias strips if you need large amounts of piping. See the next section below for the formula for calculating the width of the bias tape you will need.
You can also purchase bias tape already made but it is generally only available in plain fabrics and in limited colors.
If you are making your own bias strips then fabrics with a small scale print look the best.
More about Bias Tape
The next important item you need to making piping is cord. You can purchase specialized piping cords which come in different thicknesses for different projects or use any other cord you find in your sewing room. I misplaced the bag of specialized cords I purchased for this tutorial so just used a firm colored cording which worked just as well. Most piping works well with 1/8 inch (3mm) to 1/4 inch (6mm) piping cord.
As you will need to sew really close to the cord, a zipper foot is needed. A zipper foot allows you to sew close as it only has metal on one side. The other side is open. Most machines come with a zipper foot but if yours doesn’t then consider purchasing a sewing machine foot kit.
How wide do you cut your bias strips to make piping?
The bias tape should wrap around your cord and have the appropriate seam allowance on either side. Measure the circumference of your cord and then add the seam allowance on either side. Don’t use a seam allowance that is any smaller than 3/8 inch (1cm) as it will be too hard to sew.
- My cord was 1/4 inch (6mm) in circumference.
- I needed piping with a seam allowance of 1/2 inch (12mm) so my bias strips need to be 1 1/4 inch (3.1cm) wide to allow for the 1/4 inch (6mm) thickness of the cord.
Piping Bias Formula
Bias width = (2 x seam allowance) + cord circumference
In my example: Bias width = (2 x 0.5″) + 0.25″ = 1.25″
How to Make Piping – Instructions
Piping gives body and durability to the edges of bags, clutches, cushions and can be used to insert a pop of contrast color into clothing and sewing projects. Here is how to make piping that is as individual as you are. Best of all, making your own piping will save you money.
Step 1 – Press Open
If you have a pre-purchased bias, then press open the folded edges of the bias strips. If you have made your own bias strips then you are all ready to go!
Step 2 – Wrap the Bias Around the Cord
Wrap your piece of bias around the piping cord and pin it in place matching the raw edges. I like to use pins placed vertically but this is a personal preference.
Just be careful that you have a long tail of cord so there is no chance of you accidentally pulling the cord out of the casing before you have finished. Putting a pin through the cord at the end helps prevent pulling.
Step 4 – Baste the Bias
Hand baste along the edge of the piping with a large running stitch (up and down stitch).
You could skip the hand stitching but I find that by basting first I get a much neater finished piping with the stitching nice and tight along the cord. Doing the running stitch in a contrast color will make it easier to remove at the end. Otherwise use a matching color if you don’t plan to remove it.
Step 5 – Stitch the Piping
Using your zipper foot, stitch along the edge of the piping. Stitch as close as you can to the edge of the cord without piercing through it. See how the needle is nice and close to the cord edge.
Step 6 – Remove Basting
Remove your basting and…Voila! Lovely handmade piping. Stitch over the ends or secure them with a pin so the cord does not pull out. Also, make sure your fabric is nice and flat over the cord and not stretched out.
What are you thinking of adding the piping on? Share below.
How to Make Piping – In Conclusion
Now you know how to make piping, here are some more articles to help. Most important is how to sew piping in to your sewing projects! This tutorial includes how to do corners and starting and ending the piping. You can see in the picture below that ends are crossed over to form a relatively seamless joining without too much bulk. Clipping must be done in order to bend thick piping around corners.