Recently, when I decorated the porch for the 4th of July, I decided to recover the pillows on the swing. The others were pretty faded and not in keeping with the red, white and blue color scheme I wanted for my patriotic porch in this post: Porch Decorated for the 4th of July.
I made the two large, red pillows you see on the swing in the pic below:
In an earlier post here: ( Halloween Costumes) this morning, I shared pics of my son and I in Halloween costumes I made for a Halloween party when he was just 5 months old. I also shared a costume I made for him when he was 5 years old. That was the last time I did any real sewing…hemming pants and sewing torn seams do not count. lol
Back to the pillows…I love piping on a pillow. It just adds so much and gives a pillow a real custom look. If you aren’t familiar with piping, it’s the decorative trim you see around so many pillows and cushions. You can buy piping ready-made but you may find the selection in the stores a bit meager…at least I did when I went shopping. When you have a particular look in mind and can’t find the piping you need, or if you just want to save a bit on the cost of piping, you can make your own.
I decided to make my piping from a blue and white striped fabric to create a patriotic look with the bright red fabric I had chosen for the pillow itself. You can see the blue and white piping in this pic below.
Supplies you’ll need:
1. Fabric you wish to use for the piping (if you know the size of the pillow, the fabric store staff can normally tell you how much fabric you’ll need to create your piping.
2. Cording that you’ll be covering with your fabric. You’ll need enough cording to go all the way around your pillow, so just measure the circumference of your pillow to know how much to buy. Buy several inches extra…better to have too much than to run out.
3. Zipper foot or a specialized foot for sewing piping
4. The usual stuff like a sewing machine, scissors, tape measure, straight pins, etc…
Tip: Cording comes in various widths/thicknesses. The whole point of making your own piping is to add a little pizazz to your project, so choose a cording that’s large enough to really catch the eye and get noticed once your project is done.
Making Your Piping:
I’m using a pillow for the example below, but you can make piping for lots of things like cushions, window treatments, slip covers, etc…
Step 1. It is highly recommended you cut your piping fabric on the bias. That’s a fancy way of saying you’ll need to cut across the fabric at a 45° angle from the selvage edge. The reason for doing this is it will help the fabric to bend and flex nicely around corners when you’re adding the piping to your pillow.
They have some fancy, dancy cutting mats with grids that show a 45 degree angle. Those are handy to have but since I didn’t have one, I just used some good ole logic to guesstimate it. If you look at a clock when it’s 3:00 PM, the long hand is on the 12 and the short hand is on the 3. The two hands create a 90 degree angle. Move the long hand clockwise to where the clock reads 3:07 or 3:08 PM, and that’s basically a 45° angle. 🙂
If you would like to be very precise, you can purchase a cutting grid to lay your fabric on. Looking at the pic below, imagine the selvage edge is the 12 on the clock and the bigger white arrow is pointing at the 3. You can see I drew red lines at about a 45° angle on the navy and white striped fabric I chose for my piping. I hope you can see the red line…the arrow is touching it.
*You may be wondering how wide you’ll need to draw and cut your fabric strips. You can measure around your raw cording with a measuring tape and add about 1 1/2 inches (one and one/half inches) to that. For most cording, your fabric strips will need to be about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. You just want to make sure that after you’ve wrapped your fabric around your cording, you have at least a 5/8″ seam allowance left over for sewing.
Step 2: Once you’ve drawn your lines on your piping fabric, cut out the strips and sew the ends together to create one long continuous strip of fabric. A striped fabric may not have been the best choice for my first attempt at making piping. It was tricky getting the stripes lined up just right. You can see one of the seams where I joined two strips of my fabric in the picture below. It’s just below the pins.
*By cutting your fabric on the bias, you’ll have more pieces to seam together than if you cut it just straight across, but you’ll thank yourself later when you’re sewing the piping to the pillow fabric and it bends and curves nicely at the corners.
Step 3: Now it’s time to wrap the long continuous fabric strip you’ve created around the cording, pin it and get sewing. Since I forgot to take pics of this part originally, I’m using some skinnier cording today for demonstration purposes in the pic below. I was so busy teaching myself to make cording, I forgot to take pics occasionally. 🙂 You can see the actual cording I used in the pic above. It and the strips I had sewn together are just resting against the sewing machine while I watched how-to piping videos online. You can tell the cording I used was pretty fat. The pillows were 21″ X 21″ so I needed a fatter cording to fit the larger size pillows.
So, you’ll lay the cording on the looong piping fabric strip you’ve created by sewing all your strips together.
Wrap the top or end of the piping fabric over the cording.
Then fold the fabric over and pin it in place. Do this the full length of the piping. Actually, I don’t think I pinned it all the way down. It was pretty easy to keep the two raw edges of the fabric together and the zipper foot kept the cording in place as it went through.
My Brother SE400 machine came with lots of different presser foot(s) (feet?) including a zipper foot (see pic below.) Have I mentioned how much I love this machine?! It was absolutely perfect for sewing/making the piping and adding the piping to the pillow itself. A zipper foot is a must when sewing piping. If you try to create your piping with a regular presser foot, you won’t be able to get right up against the cording and it’s not going to look right.
Step 4: With the zipper foot in place, sew a seam right up against the cording. See how the zipper foot is allowing the needle to get jam up against the cording? That’s what I’m talk’n ’bout!
Now here’s one little goof I made that you probably won’t have happen. The stripped fabric I used for my piping was sort of stretchy and as I was pulling the cording/fabric through the sewing machine, I think the fabric stretched a tad and I sewed it that way.
I didn’t realize that had happened until I started sewing the cording onto the pillow and I noticed it was a little ripply. If you look closely at the pic below, you can see the fabric stretched a little going through the machine. If your fabric isn’t stretchy, you will not run into that problem. If it is, try to not pull on it or torque it as you’re pulling it through the machine.
So that’s how you make the piping for your pillow.
I’m going to create a separate post for attaching the piping to the pillow and making the pillow since these posts are turning out to be longer than I expected. I’ll work on that today and get that post up soon.
Update: Here’s the post showing how to add piping to a pillow: How To Sew A Pillow With Piping