Saturday, May 15, 2010

Painless Piping

Don't believe me? Here's how I taught myself in only a few tries....

I'm conquering so many firsts for myself in my huge Patio Project and I promise to share all the tips and tricks I'm picking up along the way! The first stop was tackling this whole business of piped cording.

It's one of those
musts for upholstery and really completes the professional look for lots of pillows, purses and even some clothing.

Like this really cute nautical top from Anthropologie....

Or these crisp cushions from Pottery Barn....

I don't know what's up with the navy and white theme, but these were the two examples that caught my eye :)

Here's what you'll need
  • Fabric for your piping cut into bias strips
  • Material to sew it on :)
  • Cording to go inside your piping
  • A zipper foot for your sewing machine
  • A denim needle size 100/16 for sewing through heavy fabric with lots of layers
  • Ruler, pins, fabric marker and your trusty iron
Don't worry, I'll walk you through all this stuff!

3 types to choose from
  1. Store bought cord with 1/2" fabric edge
  2. Store bought cord without any fabric edge
  3. Custom made cord that you make by wrapping fabric around plain or welting cording and stitching leaving a 1/2" fabric edge.
The quickest type of cord to work with is the cord with a fabric edge, as this kind of cord comes ready to go for you to just sew the cord right along a seam. The problem there is you are limited by the colors and styles you can choose from. That's why for this project I used custom made cording, so that it could match my cushions exactly!


Don't be embarrassed if you're not really sure what a bias strip is, because I wasn't either! I see them in the store all the time and it looks just like a bunch of thinly cut fabric strips.

And that is basically it with a few secrets behind the cut. A bias strip is a thin strip of fabric that is cut on the bias (or diagonal line) used to finish edges or in this case, wrap around the cording to making bendable and smooth piping. They do sell a number of pre-made ones in the fabric store, but I just think it's much more fun to pick your own matching fabric and make some yourself.

Hold on! Don't run off to the cutting board just yet. Before your start nipping away at your really, really long strips of fabric let me tell you about this much easier, cheaper and once you get the hang of it, quicker way to cut your own bias strips out of a small square of material!

Personally, I am simply amazed at how this works out. Click here for a tutorial on cutting your own bias strips.

OK. Finally! Let's get started....
Step 1. Cut your bias strips to your desired length and width. In this case, I need to cover big cushions, so my strips were 69" long and 1 1/2 " wide.

Step 2. Cut your welt cording 1 in shorter than bias strip. 68" in this example.

Step 3. Fold your bias strip in half and iron to form a nice crease. Open your strip back up and tuck the cord right in the crease. Pin in place.

Step 4. Crease the fabric you want to sew your piping to along the seam.

Step 5. Open the fold and lay the piping on top so that the raw edges of each piece are on the outside and the piped corded rests onto of the fabric. So the finished product will look like the picture to the left.

Step 6. Attach the denim needle and the zipper foot on your machine. Begin sewing the wrapped cord to your fabric about 1" from the end, so you'll save room to attach it or close it when you're finished. Make sure you get the piping as close to the zipper food as possible.

I actually prefer to sew this with the piping strip on the bottom and the fabric piece on top. I find it's easier this way, because I can feel for the cording beneath the fabric with one finger, while using the ironed crease as my guide for exactly where I want the piping to go as in straight (which is harder than you think with so many layers of fabric!)

Step 7. Finish sewing, make a little hem at the end, flip over and admire your hard work!

Here's a little preview of the piping on one of my patio cushions chairs in progress....

There are different ways to finish the piping if you want continuous piping or piping that does not end, as in the edge of a pillow. While I didn't use continuous piping for this project, the easiest way that I read about basically tucked the beginning of the piping inside the casing of the end of the piping.

It looks like all you do for this is simply sew the piping to the main fabric stopping about a half inch before where you started and trim the end of the piping back to give enough fabric to turn under and enclose the beginning of the piping. The ends of the piping should but up to each other under the fabric. Then all you'd do is fold under the fabric to enclose the beginning of the piping and sew in place.

Sounds pretty easy. I'll have to try this when I get to the decorative pillows for the patio set, so if you've done this before I'd love to hear any tips or tricks :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, piping! I had to make 100 feet of it once... it felt like punishment!! Although, I was using a cording foot so it wasn't so bad. It holds the piping in a little groove so you don't have to :)
    I've done the continuous piping several times, and it is just as you described. I am seriously amazed at that patio furniture overhaul... you are quite ambitous!


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