How to Make Your Own Piping

Dorothy Day Tripper Pattern by Paco Bean. Click the photo to read a review of this pattern written by Ali Cat & Co.

Dorothy Day Tripper Pattern by Paco Bean. Click the photo to read a review of this pattern written by Ali Cat & Co.

Piping is the perfect little detail to really make your designs pop, and Alicia of Paco Bean Patterns was nice enough to stop by to give us all a little lesson on how to make our own piping. Sure, you can buy it in the store, but how much cuter is it to be able to use whatever fabric your little heart desires?


Enter the  FUN giveaway at the bottom of the post to win a pack of Paco Bean patterns to pipe!

It seems a lot of people are intimidated at the idea of making their own piping or even using piping at all. After a lot of trial and error, I think I have a pretty easy method for both making piping as well as sewing it into a seam. This is a tutorial that will teach you how to create your own piping using the Paco Bean Dottie Vintage Bag as an example. This would also be nearly exact with the PB Dorothy Day Tripper as well. Try to ignore the wonkiness of the machine basting in the pics, something is up with my tension. Sigh.

 You will need: 5/32" cotton cording, fabric, zipper foot, pins, thread

1. Cut bias strips. Cutting strips on the bias of the grain allows it more flexibility and stretch around corners and curves. Fold your fabric diagonally, matching the side edge with the bottom edge and press like so. This will give you a 45 degree line to align your strips with.
 Cut as many strips as your project requires (usually one strip is about a yard for me), parallel with the 45 degree crease you made. For my patterns, I use 1 ½" wide bias strips, which ends up giving close to a 1/2" seam allowance when sewn into the bag.

2. Connect bias strips. We need to connect our bias strips to form one big long strip. Place two strips right sides together at a 90 degree angle, aligning the "wide angle point" of each strip end with the other strip's edge.
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Stitch at a 45 degree angle from the top left overlapping point to the bottom right overlapping point.

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Then trim the excess, fold flat and press the seam. Repeat with additional strips.

Photo Jul 23, 9 33 50 PM Photo Jul 23, 9 34 08 PM

3. Prepare piping. Starting at one end of your bias strip, lay your cotton cording on the wrong side of your bias strip and fold overtop in half. Slide a pin through the folded strip, and through the cotton cording, securing both. Work your way along the bias tape, folding & pinning the cording inside, maybe every 8"-12" or so.
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4. Sew piping. Put your machine's zipper foot on and adjust your stitch length to the longest setting. Starting at one end of the piping, stitch along the cording to encase it in the bias tape.

Photo Jul 23, 9 47 50 PM

We don't want it super tight, we will be sewing a closer seam later to tighten it up. For this machine basting, I leave my needle in a "center" position, then later, I simply move my needle to the left to tighten up the piping while sewing at the same seam allowance. Keep your stitching as uniform as you possibly can, this will ultimately be the guide we use in the end. Now you have your very own handmade piping!

Photo Jul 23, 9 58 33 PM


We need to pin and machine baste the piping onto one of the pieces you will be sewing. In this case, I'm attaching the piping on the main panel of the Dottie bag before I sew it to the top/sides/bottom panel (placing it in between them in the seam). If you were making a pillow, for example, you'd pin and machine baste piping to all 4 edges of one of the square pillow panels before sewing it to the other square pillow panel.

5. Attach piping to panel. For the Dottie main panel, I pressed it in half to give me a center crease. Starting in the bottom center of the panel and leaving about 1" of piping hanging off the piece, match raw edges of piping to raw edges of main panel and pin. With these kinds of curves, you can never have too many pins! Match the raw edges as exactly as you can, especially around the tighter curves. If you have trouble getting the piping to turn easily around the curves, or need to do a 90 degree corner, you may clip the piping about 3/8" in from the raw edge. I find piping goes around curves much nicer without clipping so I only do it when necessary.
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When you get back where you started, at the bottom center, overlap the piping as shown, and let 1" of the end hang off the piece. The overlapping piping at start/end won't be seen much being on the bottom of a bag. There are other ways to finish the ends, but for the sake of learning, we are going with the easy overlap. If you'd like it to appear more seamless, click here to head over to Rock The Stitch to learn a different joining technique!
Photo Jul 23, 10 19 47 PM

At your longest stitch setting and with your zipper foot, start wherever you'd like and sew right along the same stitching you created when you made the piping to attach the piping to the main panel. When you reach the "overlap" at bottom center, stitch straight across the piping.

Photo Jul 23, 10 20 43 PM
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Turn your piece wrong side up and you can see the machine basting stitching you just made.

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6. Sew piping into seam. Now pin your pieces right sides together (for the Dottie, it's pinning the main panel to the bottom/top zippered piece) with the piping sandwiched in the middle. Match all raw seams together very well. Precision is key when piping is involved, well more so than if it was just a regular seam sans piping.
Photo Jul 23, 11 48 50 PM

With the wrong side of the panel that you basted the piping to facing up, switch back to your regular stitch length (2 for me and my Janome), and sew 1/8" INSIDE the line of stitching you can see. This is where I simply move my needle to the left 1/8" and sew at the same seam allowance as I had been when basting the piping to the main panel. This will get the piping nice and tight.

Photo Jul 23, 11 49 38 PM

Now turn your item right side out and look at your piping, and feel the entire way around. There may be spots that need to be tightened up a bit, just turn wrong side out and sew a little closer in that particular spot. You'll get the feel of it pretty quickly.

Photo Jul 23, 11 58 40 PM

Now sit back and admire your piping! You're all done! Unless you're making the Dottie, in which case, you get to do it all over again with the other side. :)


Want to win your own Paco Bean Patterns to practice piping? Here's your chance! You can enter the Rafflecopter below by liking the Pattern Revolution and Paco Bean Pattern pages and to get 10 EXTRA ENTRIES add a link to the linky share of a youtube (or any public video link)  of you saying this fun Tongue Twister: "Patty Piper picked a pack of Paco Bean Patterns to practice piping." 

Hehehehe, if I can do it, you can too :) 

Have fun and good luck!!!