Pretty Piping

I’m a big fan of using piping as a trim on garments, and recently I have been sewing it into the waistline of dresses:

Piping in the waistline of my Aurora Dress
Piping in the waistline of my 1950’s Red Spot Dress

One reader asked if I had done a tutorial on this, right before I was about to sew piping into the waistline of a red tartan dress – the perfect timing!

You can buy piping ready-made, but it is usually fairly cheap polyester/cotton or polyester satin stuff:

or you can buy piping cord and cover it yourself:

or do what I did – stash bust and take the cord out of some old piping you no longer want!

Next you need to cut bias strips to cover your piping cord.  I’m using self-fabric, and have marked a line 45degrees to the selvedge.  You will need a strip about 3cm wide and slightly longer than your waistline. My metal ruler is the correct width, so I plonk it in place and chalk around that to make it quick and easy:

I cut this out, then remembered I was using a checked fabric!  Most checks aren’t true squares but are rectangular instead, so you need to cut slightly off the true bias to pass through the same part of the check pattern. I recut the strip at the same angle as the line in the left corner – thank goodness I had enough fabric!

To sew up your piping you’ll need a zip foot on your machine:

Wrap the fabric around the cord, right side facing out, and stitch as close as you can to the piping cord:

Voila – pretty piping!

Some people sew the piping straight into the waistline, but I like to measure it against my pattern for more accurate results.  Lay the piping on your pattern and chalk the piping at the CB, darts, seams and CF, remembering to skip the dart intake and seam allowances:

Now you can sew the piping to the bodice.  Stitch along the same line of stitching you used to form the piping, and match your chalk marks to the relevant seams:

Have a wee moment of admiration:
Now sew the bodice to the skirt – stitch with the bodice on top, so you can sew in the line of the previous stitching:
For a waistline, I usually overlock the seam allowance and turn it upwards.  You could also add ribbon to the seam (like in the Red Spot Dress above) but this dress is going to have lining so that would be a waste of time!

Nice eh?  I’m glad I recut the binding, it was worthwhile to get it looking symmetrical. When it comes to checks, I am definitely a matchy-matchy person!  (by the way, I’m still working on my article about check matching – it keeps getting bigger…..)

There are so many fun things you can do with piping – edging collars and cuffs, accenting style lines, etc – and I think covering your own always looks classy.


Piping could be made from self fabric, a contrast colour, or a texture contrast like satin. Whatever you choose, piping is simple and effective. Are you a piping fan too?

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Designer, Patternmaker, Blogger Of All Things Sewing. Follow as I share projects, patterns, and my favourite tricks of the trade.

37 thoughts on “Pretty Piping

  1. I love the way piping helps “crisp up” the design details of a garment. But, I've never tried to add any. Your tutorial makes me think I could give it a go sometime. Thanks for all the great pictures!


  2. Thanks for this tutorial. I have made so much self-made piping for all the slipcovers I've sewn over the years, but inserting into a garment must be much more careful so I'm glad for your tips.


  3. I've been thinking about trying my own piping to add it to the outside of patch pockets, so thanks a lot for your tutorial! I think piping adds a little interest without it being *too much*


  4. I love piping too! 🙂 Thank you for the tutorial, it looks so simple. I made my own piping once before, but I seem to recall using cord that had fusible attached, so it ironed on to the cover fabric. But the result was not nearly as nice. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to add piping to a waist line now.


  5. muito obrigado por colocar este post , estava atras , para saber como se faz, agora ja posso colocar no casaco que estou fazendo , aqui no Brasil o outono esta com cara de inverno, muito obrigado ..beijinho



  6. Gosh that plaid is so pretty. I'm still admiring it ;). I should really try piping again and this looks so good. My one and only experience with quilting involved putting some piping around the perimeter and I used a piping foot from my old Bernina. I can't remember why I needed one because this looks simpler! Thank you for sharing!


  7. What a great tutorial, thank you so much! I just cut out a great dress and after seeing this tutorial, I am definitely going to give it a try!


  8. Thanks a lot for this tutorial! Piping is great, I'm definitely going to have to try it out – I had been wondering about how to put it at a waistline.


  9. Thanks! I love the idea of piping in self-fabric, I always think of piping in an accent colour, and that makes it too loud for most of what I make. Self-fabric is a great solution.


  10. Love it love it love it, Sherry! I do think it's so special–different & pretty & cool, too, and something you NEVER see in stores. Thanks for another wonderful tutorial. I've been using your bound buttonholes lesson quite a bit recently.


  11. Whoaa! How about googling “continuous bias strip” (I'm pretty sure has a good tutorial) and making the bias at least a lot zippier? Quilters are very efficient at things they do on a grand scale :-).


  12. Piping certainly does give a nice “finish” to a garment. It's one of those details that you do have to plan for. All too often I think of it when it's already too late!


  13. Hey, my waist isn't that big!!
    Seriously though, I have a thing against joins in piping, and try to cut a single strip whenever I can – that method is great if you don't have much fabric leftover!


  14. Thank you Sherry, for another great and relevant tutorial. I wanted to ask if the piping cord is a special cord or I can use something I got under hand? For example is it a bit flexible? Streachy? Or will any type of cord do. Thank you, again. I am loving your blog.


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