How to Make and Attach Piping

Angel Lea Piping Tutorial

Adding piping to a project is a great way to add a pop of contrasting colour and create a professional finish to an item. You can, of course, buy pre-made piping but if you can’t find any to suit your needs, don’t stress, it’s actually quite easy to make your own. Read on to find out how.

What you need:

  • Piping cord – choose a width suitable for your project. I’m making a pouf in this tutorial and using cord with a circumference of 3/4in.
  • Fabric of your choice – I’m using 100% cotton quilting weight material but you can use whatever material you like. Generally the fabric is cut on the bias (diagonally across the fabric on a 45 degree angle) as it allows the fabric to stretch and bend around corners better than if it were cut on the straightgrain. For most projects you will probably need about 1/2 to 1 yard of fabric.

Determining the measurements:

To determine the length of cord required (and therefore the length of piping needed), measure around the circumference of your project where you’ll be putting the piping, then add on an extra 15cm (6in) for finishing off the ends.

Unless your project is small you will need to join several bias strips together to total the length of piping required.

To determine the width of the bias fabric strip, measure the circumference of the cord (by wrapping a tape measure around it) then add two lots of seam allowance to it. For example, my cord measures 3/4in and my project uses a seam allowance of 1/2in, so the formula is:

Cord circumference + seam allowance + seam allowance

3/4in + 1/2in + 1/2in

= 1 3/4in

So my fabric strips need to be 1 3/4in wide.

Cutting the fabric:

1. Lay the fabric out on a large work surface (I used the floor), and fold back one corner of the fabric to the opposite corner so that the edge of the fabric is parallel to the selvedge and a 45 degree folded edge is created. The folded edge is where you will cut the strips from.

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2. Using a rotary cutter and ruler (or pencil and scissors if you don’t have a rotary cutter), measure the required width (1 3/4in in my case) from the folded edge and cut a strip the full length of the fabric.

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3. Because the strip you’ve just cut is on the fold you will now need to cut the strip in half lengthwise to create two strips.

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4. Continue cutting strips until you have enough to total the required length.

Making the piping

5. Join the bias strips of fabric together to form one continuous strip. To do this, lay the ends of two strips right sides together at right angles. Draw a diagonal line across the top strip from corner to corner.

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6. Sew the strips together on the line.

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7. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4in.

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8. Press the seam open.

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9. Once you have joined all your strips together, lay the cord in the centre of the fabric strip with 1/2in of cord poking out the end.

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10.  Fold the fabric strip over to enclose the cord and pin the sides in place.

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11. With a zipper foot attached to your sewing machine, sew the edges of the strip together close to the cord.

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Attaching the piping

I’m making a pouf in my example but these instructions can be used for cushion covers and similar items.

12. With the zipper foot attached to your machine, set your machine to a basting stitch (the largest stitch). Beginning in the middle of one side of the pouf (ie, don’t start on a corner), lay the piping along the edge of the fabric, aligning the raw edge of the piping with the raw edge of the pouf top.

Leaving a 5cm (2in) tail at the start, sew the piping to the pouf top within the seam allowance – my final seam allowance is 12mm (1/2in) so I used a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance to attach the piping. This is so the basting stitch doesn’t show when we attach the next side of the pouf. Stop sewing at the corner, backstitch and then remove the project from the machine.

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13. Snip the piping within the seam allowance at the corner. Ease the piping around the corner and then align the edge of the piping with the next edge of the pouf top.

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14. Sew the piping from the corner to the next corner and then snip the piping within the seam allowance as before. Continue moving around the top of the pouf and when you get back to the starting edge, stop sewing about 5cm (2in) from the head of the piping. Remove the pouf from the machine. Trim excess piping leaving a 5cm (2in) overlap.

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15. Use a seam ripper to undo about 8cm (3in) of the seam on the tail end of the piping.

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16. Cut the tail of the cord level with the head of the cord.

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Tip: Wrap a piece of sticky tape around the two ends of cord to hold them together.

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17. Fold over a 12mm (1/2in) hem to the wrong side on the tail end of piping. Lay the head end of the piping inside the opened tail end, then wrap the folded tail end around the head end to enclose it.

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18. Finish basting the piping in place.

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When attaching the side to the pouf (or front/back of a cushion cover) the piping will be sandwiched in between the two layers of fabric and you will need to sew the seam with a zipper foot.


I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions – anthea @ angelleadesigns.com

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