3 hours ago
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Enter piping. It's really quite simple -- cut some bias strips, sew in some cording and voila! You have piping.
How to Make Your own Piping
piping cord, whatever diameter you prefer (upholstery = big, clothing = small) and in enough length for your project
fabric for piping - you'll be cutting on the bias (45-degree angle to the edges), so you'll need to make sure you have enough to get good long strips
a sewing machine with a zipper/piping foot
Time spent: about 45 minutes, including time for fixing mistakes
Step 1: Cut your fabric strips.
This is a bit complicated to explain, so hang with me. Measure your piece along the edges to be piped to find out how much piping you need. Mine needed four strips, 27 inches long, (including 1 inch or so seam allowance). Lay out your fabric straight onto a cutting mat. Take a tape measure and measure the bias length of your fabric -- lay it at a 45-degree angle from selvedge to selvedge. This will tell you the maximum length your strips can be. It's possible to sew shorter fabric strips together to make up a longer strip if needed (and with piping for clothing, you'll have to do this), but if possible try to cut your strips in one piece so you don't have seams in your piping, especially if you're using a patterned fabric. My shirt had just enough fabric in the back to squeeze out four strips (by the way, I cut the shirt apart at all the seams so I was working with a nice flat piece of fabric).
Ok, have you measured and know how much you need? Good. Cut out your strips along the bias, making sure they're wide enough to wrap around your piping cord and leave a generous seam allowance -- 2-inch strips are good, but check before you cut!
Cutting mats will have the bias line marked -- if you don't have a cutting mat, the bias runs diagonal to the warp and weft of the fabric at a 45-degree line. It's the stretchiest part of the fabric. The reason you cut the strips on the bias for piping is so the piping is flexible and goes smoothly around curves and corners.
Step 2: Insert cord and pin.
Fold the fabric over the cord, centering the cord. Pin along the length of the fabric. *I know your mother/grandmother/best friend/home ec teacher taught you to pin perpendicular to the seam line, and that's a really good thing to do -- if you forget to take a pin out, and your needle hits it, it can really screw up the balance of your machine. BUT if you're confident enough in your ability to take pins out as you sew -- and you have to sew slowly for this -- you can pin along the seam line (as pictured) instead. It's a bit easier to pin this way with that fat piping cord in the way.
Step 3: Sew the piping in.
Sew up these babies, and before you know it, you'll have a nice pile of piping!
Step 4: Use the piping!
Pin and sew. It's really really important to keep that presser foot as close as possible to the bump of the piping. You want your piping to sit nice and tight in the seam. Seam it up just like you normally would. Turn it right-side out so you can check to make sure your piping is neat and tight, then you can trim the edges.
*If you have to use two or more strips of piping along one seam, you need to make sure you curve the raw ends of the piping down into the seam allowance. You'll sew over the part that's curved down so you trap the raw ends into the seam allowance. I really wish I had a picture of this so I could explain exactly what I mean, but I didn't need to use two strips of piping in one seam for this project.
That's it -- you're finished! Hooray!