Cover Cording to Create Your Own Piping

Finish your sewing projects with custom piping

  • 01 of 10

    Making Piping

    Decorative pillows with piped edges
    Alex Tihonov / Getty Images

    Piping adds a decorative finish to your sewing projects, including pillows, garments, and accessories. While you can buy piping to use, sewing allows you to use exactly the fabric, pattern, and color desired. See how to use cording and fabric to make and use your own piping.

    Materials Needed

    You will need these supplies:

    • Fabric
    • Cording
    • Measuring tape
    • Scissors or rotary cutter
    • Sewing machine with a zipper foot
    • Thread
    • Iron for pressing
    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Measure the Cording

    A photo showing a tape measure measuring cording that will be covered
    Debbie Colgrove

    Choose the cording that you want to cover. Cording is available in a variety of sizes.

    You will need to measure the cording to determine how to cut your fabric strips to cover it.

    1. Lay the cording on the tape measure at the amount of seam allowance you will be using on what you are attaching the piping to.
    2. Wrap the tape measure around the cording and back to the end of the tape measure.
    3. Where the end overlays the tape measure is the width of the fabric you will need to cover the cording.

    The length of the cording will be the measurement from the area you want to insert the piping. Add a few inches to be sure you will have enough.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Cut Bias Strips

    Photo of cutting bias strips
    Debbie Colgrove

    Cut bias strips wide enough to wrap around the cording with the seam allowance.

    This fabric must be cut on the bias. Bias will cover the cording smoothly and allows the piping to bend smoothly around corners.

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Join the Bias Strips

    A photo showing bias strips being joined
    Debbie Colgrove

    Match the ends of the bias strips as shown in the photo, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Match the long edges of the strip where the 1/4-inch seam allowance will be sewn.

    Press the seam allowance to one side.

    If you are using very heavy fabric grade the seam allowance to prevent a bulge caused by the seam allowance.

    Join enough strips for the length of the cording you need.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Covering the Cording

    A photo showing the fabric being sewn to cover cording and covered cording
    Debbie Colgrove
    1. Set up your sewing machine with your zipper foot.
    2. Place the cording in the center of the bias strip.
    3. Wrap the bias strip around the cording matching the edges.
    4. Align the zipper foot so the edge of it is against the cording. Sew the seam allowances together to enclose the cording.
    5. Allow the machine to feed the fabric under the needle so that you maintain a true bias grain around the cording.
    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Sew the Piping to the Item

    A photo showing piping being sewn on a pillow front and corners clipped
    Debbie Colgrove

    Check that you have the correct seam allowance on the piping for the items seam allowance. Trim or compensate for the seam allowance if necessary.

    Using the zipper foot, place the cording on the seam allowance of the item and sew the piping to the item.

    Always sew the piping to one layer before joining the layers that will enclose the piping.

    Clip where necessary to turn corners.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Ending Continuous Piping

    A photo showing two methods of ending piping
    Debbie Colgrove

    Continuous piping is piping that does not end, as on the edge of a pillow or a cushion cover. There are two equally acceptable methods to join the ends.

    Heavy Piping

    1. Sew the piping to the item stopping about a half-inch before where you started.
    2. Trim the piping allowing enough fabric to turn under and enclose the beginning of the piping.
    3. Trim the ends of the cording so that they but up to each other.
    4. Fold under the fabric to enclose the beginning of the piping and sew in place.

    Narrow Piping

    1. Sew the beginning of the piping with the end of the piping dipping into the seam allowance.
    2. Continue to sew joining the piping to the fabric.
    3. As you approach the starting point, place the ending of the piping over the starting point and dip it into the seam allowance. Allow for a continuous visual line of piping on the outside of the seam allowance.
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  • 08 of 10

    Ending Piping in a Seam Allowance

    A pocket flap with piping that will be enclosed in a seam allowance
    Debbie Colgrove

    When the end of piping will be enclosed in a seam allowance, as in edging a collar, continue sewing the piping to the entire edge. Trim the piping from the seam allowance after all sewing of that area is done to prevent trimming the piping too short.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Enclosing Piping in a Seam

    A photo with details of sewing piping in a seam.
    Debbie Colgrove

    Place the next piece of fabric under the piping, aligning the edges. Use the stitching that is holding the piping onto the first layer as a guide to sew the second layer of fabric. Be sure you sew exactly on the stitching which is holding the piping in place or just beyond the stitching so that the stitching will not be seen from the right side of the item.

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Tips and Tricks

    A finished pillow with piping
    Debbie Colgrove

    Experiment on your scraps to get the "feel." If you are having difficulty getting the "feel" of the piping through all the layers, buy a yard of large cording at the upholstery section of your local fabric store and practice with it.

    Use piping in these various ways:

    • Trim a little girl's jumper with contrasting piping at the armholes, neckline, and pocket edges. Use a straight cut scrap to make a matching "scrunchie."
    • Complement your ruffled pillows with corded pillows. Use the same dimensions listed, substituting cording for the ruffle.
    • Complement your throw pillows with alternate trims. For example: If you make a denim pillow with bandanna trim, make bandanna pillow with denim trim.
    • Be creative with your scraps. Use them to make your cording and "jazz" up a plain outfit by adding small piping at armholes, neckline, and pocket edges.
    • Use piping in the seams of backpacks and pocketbooks to complement an outfit.