Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall for Cotton : Making Cotton Piping

Last night I had a bit of spare time so I thought I would put it to good use by making the piping I need to make my Fall for Cotton dress this coming weekend.  To be honest, I thought making this stuff would be a total pain.  I'd never even made my own bias tape before, so having to make that and then turn it into piping... it was sounding difficult.

How wrong I was!

I started out by measuring how wide I'd need my bias strips.  I wanted the cord to be encased and leave a 5/8" seam allowance like my pattern has.

My piping cord is a little over 1/8" so I decided to allow 3/8" to go around the piping and then 5/8" on each side of that for the seam allowance.  Watch out - I'm doing maths!  5 + 3 + 5 = 13/8", which is 1 5/8"!!

Next step was to draw lines all over my fabric.  I lay my fabric over my sewing table and drew lines at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge edges, with gaps in between of 1 5/8"

Now this is where one of those cutting wheels and mats would be beneficial... but I don't have one, so cut out about 12 strips with my scissors.  To be honest I didn't think about how many I would need - it turns out I only needed four strips to make more than 4 metres of piping... I will clearly need to do something with blue piping all over it in the future!

Next I sewed the strips together.  First I put the strips at right angles to each other:

And then I stitched diagonally across the end from the corner of the top strip to the corner of the bottom strip.  I trimmed the seam allowance to about 1/8" or there abouts:

Next step was to iron the seam open:

I did this three times until I had enough strips sewn together to cover my cord.  A tip when sewing the pieces together is to keep making sure which side is the right side.  You don't want seam allowances on both sides of your bias strip!!!  Of course, if you have a fabric that has an obvious right and wrong side this won't be a problem...

So at this point I had a very long bias strip.  I took my cotton cord and folded the bias strip around it so the edges of the bias strip met and the cord was right up against the fold.  I pinned it all together.

(Somehow I didn't get a photo of that step... sorry!)

Then I sewed it up.  I put the zipper foot on my machine and tested where the needle would pass through the fabric when the machine was running.  It was right where I needed it to be!  Hooray!!  If it hadn't been, I had the option of moving the needle to the left.

I ran the whole 4 metres through the machine and TA-DAAAH - I had piping cord with 5/8" seam!!!!

Now I did all of that it a little under an hour.  That includes stuffing about and taking photos etc.  If I had applied myself and only cut out the number of bias strips I needed, I could have done it in half an hour I think!  And its so simple - don't you agree?

I hope you find this usefull!



  1. I don't even bother with the pins when I make piping- I just line it up and feed it as I go. It takes a bit of practice but saves a step and makes the sewing much faster. Though my boyfriend usually wanders in wondering what on earth I'm making that involves such a long continuous bit of sewing!

    And yes, if you plan to start making your own bias binding more often, buy a rotary cutter.

    1. I must admit that I don't think I'd bother with the pins next time either - it was pretty easy to keep together once it got rolling!

  2. ohmygosh! i would never have thought you could do that in an hour ! when i started reading your post and seeing step after step i was like...yah! not for me!!! i'm so excited about seeeeeeing this dressssss!

  3. I love making piping and I'm glad you had such a good first experience! When I plan to use the piping on a garment (as opposed to bag or pillow), I often make it now even when I could buy the correct color at the store. You can use nicer fabric than the poly/cotton blend that they use with the store bought stuff. I can't wait to see this dress - it's going to be gorgeous!

    1. I think I'm addicted to piping now - but I will never ever buy it!

  4. Girl you are something else! Work it, woman!


  5. I had to make my own piping for my wedding gown. (Of course I made the whole dress as well, not only the piping.)
    It's very easy, once you figure out how it works, and the zipper foot of course is necessary. I think knowing how to help yourself with such details adds a lot to your possibilities when you would like to have a very special design for your sewing projects. Not being forced to buy pre-made piping, you can make your piping in any colour you want and add that little extra to your creation!

    1. I don't think I will every be forced to buy pre-made piping because my local (very large) store doesn't stock it! But I just love how it adds to the look of the dress, and making your own means you can make it in any colour or pattern!