Piping is an easy way to add polish to any upholstery project. It’s great for re-upholstery, furniture covers, decorative pillows, and other craft projects.
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I’m using bleached drop cloth for my piping because that’s what I’m making our couch cover out of. It’s durable, bleachable, and has that home-spun, cottage vibe. So nice.
You can check out my blog post about making Drop Cloth Potholders. I talk all about how I bleached the drop cloth and materials to use.
*** This project can be as easy as cutting strips and sewing the cord in. I’m showing how I went about it and problems and solutions I found along the way.
***Here’s what I used but you can use basically any material and thread you like.
Sewing Machine – This is the machine I’m currently using. It’s very basic and relatively inexpensive. (Sewing machines always cost a lot-bleh!) In the future, I’d like to get something more advanced but it does very well for a project as simple as piping.
Drop Cloth – This is %100 percent cotton so it’s bleachable and durable.
Piping Cord – This piping is also %100 cotton so it’s bleachable as well. It’s 6/32 in thickness and 50 yards long. You can also use it if the label says 3/16 for the thickness. Just try to get at least two spools if you’re doing an entire couch.
Upholstery Thread – Because I’m using this for a couch and my kids are really rough on furniture, I’m using upholstery thread instead of regular, all-purpose thread. And I found that when I used regular thread for the first cushion, I ripped the seams when I pulled the cushion cover off because I made it so snug. That could be a sewing error as well, but the upholstery thread takes a lot more wear when I need to wash the covers too.
Scissors – It’s good to have a pair of scissors dedicated to sewing. (“Stop! Those are mom’s fabric scissors!!!” we yelled often as kids) I like these because they stay sharp for a long time and then you can take them apart with the screw and sharpen each side.
Here’s How to Sew Piping
First Cut and Connect the Fabric
Cut your fabric into 3 inch wide strips. They can be as long as you need them to be. I used drop cloth so I just ripped them down the length of the fabric.
Cut off any any ending seams if your fabric has them. You want the place where the strips join to not be bulky.
Diagonal seams are the way to go, especially if you’re using a thick material like drop cloth.
Watch the video. It’s only a minute long!
To join the ends of the strips together, put one end on top of another end, perpendicular to each other, right sides together.
You want to imagine that you’re just sewing and then cutting off the corner.
Sew across on a diagonal from the top left inside corner to the bottom right outside corner.
Trim off the excess.
This spreads the seam out instead of having it all bulky in one spot.
Keep connecting strips until you feel like you have enough to start adding the piping.
**If you’re using a material that doesn’t really have a right side, like the drop cloth, pay attention to which side you have the seam. I used a pencil to mark the “wrong side” so I wouldn’t lose track and have seams facing the opposite directions.
Prepare Your Machine
Replace your regular “J” presser foot with the “I” zipper foot.
There should be a button on the back of the presser foot that releases it or it just pops off with downward pressure like my machine.
Then pop the new foot on.
Now you want to position your needle as far to the left as it’ll go. We want it to be as close to the piping as possible for a nice, smooth wrapping of the cord.
On my machine I just have to move the dial so the dotted line is shown to the left of the circle. Other machines have number settings or ways to manually adjust the needle position on a screen.
You might have to pull out your manual or look up a tutorial on how your machines does this specifically.
Another adjustment that you might need to make is the tension.
I found that after I switched to upholstery thread, the stitching was looking really wonky and catching on the machine a lot.
There were all these weird loops on the underside and a straight line on the top.
This tells me that the tension was off. So I turned the dial to a higher number until the stitching looked normal again.
You might not have this problem but if you do, just sew a few practice lines on a scrap of fabric while you adjust the tension up or down and see if it resolves the issue.
Now that you’ve got your thread, fabric, and machine ready, let’s sew the piping!
Add the Piping to the Strips
Sandwich your piping cord in between the fabric strip length-wise like a taco.
Make sure you have it sitting in the wrong side of the fabric. Right side facing out. This is important to check when you have a fabric without a right or wrong side.
You want all the seams you made when you connected the strips to be on the inside as you sew the piping in.
Now sew the folded strip together, down the length, as close to the cord as you can get. But don’t sew on the cord.
Continue until you have as much as you need.
If you’re confused at all you can watch the video. It’s only a minute long!
Now you’re ready to use it for whatever you heart desires. Just sandwich it between the layers of some fabric.
Make some beautiful pillows for your couch. Or even recover your couch! You got this!
Stay tuned for more blog posts and videos as I continue to work on my own drop cloth couch cover.
Thanks for stopping by!
Don’t forget to pin it!