How to Sew Piping in 6 Easy Steps

If you have a project in mind that involves cushions or reupholstery with piping (aka cording or welting), I’ll finally show you how easy it is to do it yourself.

I have posted in the past about my adventures in recovering cushions and in completely making new box cushions from scratch. I won’t lie, it takes a lot of time to make your own cushions. I think it’s worth trying once, though, just for the satisfaction of accomplishing the project.

1. Find your piping or cord

I realize that this seems obvious but I wanted you to know that this part of your project or cushion can be recycled. I recycled the piping from my friend’s cushions when I redid hers last spring. Not only did it save her money, it was made of a sort of plastic material which was more suitable for outdoors. Also, I didn’t have to measure it. Yay!

remember these? I’m still proud of this project.

If you can’t recycle, you can buy your cord at JoAnn Fabric, Amazon or at other online suppliers. It’s not too expensive but if you plan, you can use a 40% or 50% off coupon. (Keep in mind that a coupon at JoAnn is only good toward one package, but they also sell it by the yard). I ordered some in bulk from fabric.com for my box cushion project in the mountains. If you’re doing this, make sure you know which thickness you want.

You can see 2 different thicknesses here. 

2. Measure your piping

If you’re not recycling, roughly measure how much cording you’ll need. Just take your cording and run it along your cushions and/or the outline of your upholstery project. You don’t really need to be exact in most cases. Longer is better than too short but there’s an easy fix for that.

3. Cut fabric strips for casing

Cut your fabric into strips between 2″ and 2 1/2″ wide. Again, you don’t really need to be exact. If you’re going to be sewing the piping into box cushions or pillows, just make sure you have enough of a flange or fabric overhanging away from your piping for the machine to hold onto.

If you’ll be using your piping on an upholstered chair, one option is to cut this as close to the sewn edge  (next to piping) as possible because you’ll be gluing it to cover your staples.

Otherwise, you’ll need the flange to staple the piping to your edge or piece of furniture (or sew into your cushion covers. The piping sticks out along the edge and the flange is covered by a finished fabric edge…but that’s another post.

4. Sewing strips together

Almost any amount of piping you’ll need will require very long strips of fabric. You can make the casing as long as you need it by sewing them together using this method:
a. Place strips right sides together at a 90 degree angle, pin and sew a line to form a triangle. See below.
See how this forms a triangle? Next, you’ll cut this triangle off.
Open up your strip…
then press the seam open.

5. Encase your piping in the fabric strip and pin

Be sure to leave some room on either end of the cording.

6. Sew

OK, so I used a photo twice….not like you’re paying by the photo!
The most important thing here is to use your machine’s zipper foot. It allows you to tuck the stitch right up against that cording. (I had no idea mine up there was so rusty. I don’t think it looks that gross in real life).
Just sew a straight stitch right along the cording, backstitch at the beginning and end if you want but since the piping will likely be sewn or glued to the final product, it’s no big deal if you forget to do this.
You are finished!
There are other great tutorials out there which is how I was inspired and learned to tackle this easy but initially intimidating task. It does add an element of tediousness to your project…..you have to take the time to make it, then you have the added pain of including it in your cushions or upholstery project. I think it’s worth it, though. It gives any project that tailored look.
If you’re like me and need to see a few examples before diving in….these other tutorials might help…
1. Ashley’s post at “make it and love it”. I agree. Though my blog would be called “make it and be totally ok with the result”
3. Design Sponge (what a hot looking blog, makes you want to make something!)
Editing to add this post to Elizabeth Foss’ weekly sewing/reading wrap-up: Go get inspired!
needle and thREAD
In keeping with the theme of Needle and Thread, I’ll share that I’ve just finished 2 books that are completely different but equally enjoyable to me.
The first was “First Service” by Andrea Jaeger:
At 14 years old, Jaeger was ranked #2 in the world on the women’s tennis tour behind Chrissy Evert. In spite of a non-religious upbringing, she clearly heard God’s voice and direction in her life from a very early age and followed that to fulfill God’s will for her. When her shoulder was injured early in her career, she took that as a clear sign that her life was supposed to take another direction. She chronicles her efforts to build a ranch in Colorado for children battling cancer. It’s an inspiring and easy read. I always enjoy stories about people who are confident and unapologetic about their faith. I believe she recently joined an order of nuns and is still involved in the foundation which runs the ranch and other programs to help suffering children around the world.
The second book I’m currently reading is one I mentioned in this post. It’s “Start” by Jon Acuff.
Acuff is a clear thinker and effective communicator. Start is inspiring, entertaining and full of motivating examples to help a person discern the inner voices and other obstacles that keep them from pursuing their dreams and fulfilling their life’s purpose. The book also has practical exercises to help you Start working on your dream. I’m not reading this as much for myself (though I do have some projects and ideas on the back-burner but my vocation for the moment is pretty clear) as for Mark and the kids. While Mark is working in a career in which he’s passionate, as he gets older, his chosen profession is beating him up. Now is a perfect time to begin to explore how else he might use his expertise in the event that he isn’t able to teach in the future.
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One thought on “How to Sew Piping in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Michelle

    Beth, that’s really lovely fabric! So bright and cheerful. Thanks for the tutorial, beautiful pictures and well done.

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