How to Make Piping for Your Sewing Projects

making piping-14 copy

I think piping can be a fun detail and add a sophisticated touch to a sewing project.  Piping can match the fabric used for the project or it can be a contrasting fabric for a pop of color or a bit of fun.  And you are not limited to the piping sold in stores.


You can make your own!  I’ll show you how to make piping – it’s really quite easy.

slipcoverd chair in sunbrella fabric-6This chair that I recently slipcovered has piping that matches the chair.  I made the piping using the same fabric as the chair and cording that I bought at Jo-Anns.

making piping-1

You can figure how much piping you will need to make by measuring along the lines of the chair, pillow, or whatever you are adding piping to.  Just measure all the areas that get piping and then add a few inches so you have plenty to work with.  My cording is regular sized and comes in a package of six yards.  I cut my fabric strips 1 1/2 inches wide.

And I have a secret to share!

I DID NOT cut my strips on the bias 😀  Most places you go looking for instructions on making piping are going to tell you to cut your fabric on the bias.  And if you have ever tried cutting out fabric on the bias you know that it is a royal pain.

So I skip that little detail and just cut my strips of fabric along the straight grain line.  It works just fine.  I’ve made piping this way many times and never had a problem.

making piping-2

You will most likely need more piping than the length of one strip of fabric.  You can just sew the pieces together straight across or you can make a mitered seam if you prefer.  I make mitered seams because I think it makes it look a bit more professional.  You will lay two fabric strips together as shown in the photo.
making piping-3

You are going to make a diagonal seam to sew these two pieces togethermaking piping-4

You want the pieces to turn like this when you have the seam sewn.making piping-5

It is important to make the seam across the right diagonal.  Start at the top of the piece that is wrong side up and sew diagonally to the underneath strips corner.  Sew exactly from corner to corner or the strips will not line up properly.making piping-6

After the seam is sewn it should open up like this.  If you sew the wrong diagonal you will not have a continuous strip going all one direction!

making piping-7

Trim the seam.

making piping-8

Press the seam and you now have a much longer piece of fabric for making your piping.  Add more fabric strips to make the length you need.making piping-9

Now it’s time to enclose your cording inside the fabric strip to create your piping.making piping-11

I have a piping foot for my machine.  This foot cost around $10 and if you are making piping I would highly recommend you get a piping foot for your machine.  If you do not have a piping foot and you want to make piping without getting one or simply don’t have the patience to wait till you get one you can use your zipper foot to make your piping.  I have made piping that way and it can be done.  I, however, am not very good at going slowly when sewing and when using a zipper foot for piping you do have to go a bit slower as it takes some effort to make the piping come out just right.making piping-10

This is the bottom side of my piping foot.  It has grooves that the cording can fit up in as you sew and it keeps the stitching exactly where it should be.  If you use a zipper foot you will have to guide the fabric and cording through as closely as needed to create nice looking piping but not so close that  you sew into the cording.making piping-12

Encase the cording in the fabric, place the fabric-covered cord into the groove of the piping foot and stitch.  If using a zipper foot stitch as closely to the cording as you can without sewing into the cording.making piping-13

Work the cording into the center of the fabric strip tightly as you sew.making piping-15

This is what your finished cording should look like.making piping-14

Now you are ready to add it to your project!making piping-16

For the ruffle of the chair I slipcovered I added the piping to the chair piece first.  You don’t have to sew it on first, you can sandwich it between two layers and sew the seam at the same time.  Since I was adding a ruffle and the fabric was a bit heavier and stiff I sewed the piping on first.  I lined up the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the chair piece and stitched, using my piping foot again to keep the stitches exactly where they needed to be.making piping-17And added the ruffle.  Raw edges and right sides together, piping sandwiched between I stitched my seam, using my piping foot again.  It’s harder to keep the cording right in the groove of the piping foot when sewing a seam with the piping between but it is much easier than with a zipper foot.  Even with heavier fabric you can see the cording and keep it straight.

making piping-21

See the cording making a bump under the fabric?  You can keep the groove of the piping foot right along that ridge and you piping will turn out perfect!

making piping-19

I added piping along the top and down the sides of this chair.

making piping-20

Also along the arms and around the top of the ruffle.slipcoverd chair in sunbrella fabric-5I like how it turned out and think I just might take the time to add piping to more of my slipcover projects 😀


follow along with me here:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. says

    That does it- I need a piping foot. Years ago I used to make piping by folding my fabric somehow and making one seam down the side of it-Then, you started cutting in a spiral fashion (to your desired width) and that was the only seam you had to sew. I need to figure out how to do that again. xo Diana

  2. Cheryl Ann says

    Beautiful job…and you are a great teacher! I’m a novice and I understood your directions. Thanks!
    Cheryl Ann

    • says

      Thanks so much Cheryl – it’s nice to know my instructions are understandable! Sometimes it’s hard to know for sure if I’m saying it right and explaining in a way that can be figured out!

  3. Cathy Johnson says

    I had no idea how much easier a piping foot would make! I will be getting one ASAP. Thanks so much for the info!

  4. JaneEllen says

    Your tutorial is excellent, thanks so much Jill. I have to learn to make piping if I’m going to make things look better. All the steps and how-to’s/photos you included are perfect, I could get it. I’ll save it now so I can print it out when I get a color cartridge. Could only afford the black this month so having to print everything out in black, works for me. Love how you showed us so well what to do. I’ll have to look for a piping foot. Think I have a zipper foot but no idea how to use it either. Might as well buy piping foot. I haven’t put a zipper in anything for years.
    I love fabric you used for that slipcover, so modern yet comfy looking. Great job on everything. I’d love to make slipcover for my chair out of small piece I got to make pillow cover, would be so pretty. I’m working my courage up to try it. Happy days

    • says

      Thanks Jane Ellen, I hope if you want to add piping to things you will be able to use my tutorial! If you need to ask questions please do! Also – you don’t have to use piping to make things look nice! I didn’t add it to any of my own slipcovers simply because I didn’t want to take the time!

  5. Melanie says

    OK – I want to go buy a piping foot and I have never piped and probably never will! It looks so easy & fun when YOU sew! Have a fun weekend at the flea!

    • says

      Haha Melanie you gave me a chuckle! I think sewing is fun – most of the time! And most of it is easy – I’ve been doing this for 30 years! But if you don’t enjoy it then do what you DO enjoy!

    • says

      Thanks Carla – Piping doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems like when thinking about it! My hubby likes the look but I never make myself add it to my own slipcovers! HA! I’m too lazy and always think it takes so much more time but it really isn’t that bad!

  6. Becky King says

    Laughing at your comment, “I am not very good at going slowly when sewing.” I can attest to that! You are fast geared completely unlike your mother.

Share Your Thoughts