How to Sew Piping Into a Pillow

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


Nothing finishes off a pillow like piping. It can take a homemade pillow to a professional level. Not sure what piping is? Well, all the pillows pictured below, plus, the couch they are sitting on, all have piping in the seams. Wondering how to sew piping into a pillow? Read on for a full step-by-step tutorial!
fancy pillows with piping

What is piping?

Piping is often known as cording, as back in the day, “piping” was always considered “flat piping” which is where you put a small layer of fabric into a seam for extra definition. And “cording” was always known as piping that had cord inserted into it, for the rolled trim that you see above. But these days, what you see above is most often called “piping” and the same thing without the cording is called “flat piping.”

Putting piping into any seam, pillow or otherwise, is a pretty straightforward task. The trickiest part of sewing piping into a pillow is that there is no end to the seam, and many people struggle with the spot where the two ends meet. There are some tricks to know, so follow the steps below for perfect piping every time!

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How to sew piping into a pillow

Step 1:

Prepare your pillow pieces first, cutting them to size and installing a zipper if desired. Take the piping and pin it to the outer edge of one pillow cover piece. Place the piping so that the stitching on the piping is in line with the project’s seam allowance. Leave a couple of extra inches at the start of the piping and leave that section unpinned. If you inserted a zipper into one of the pillow pieces, I find it’s easier to sew the piping to the other side, without the zipper.

piping

Step 2:

It’s rather impossible to get 90 degree corners with piping, so this method will give you a slightly rounded corner, as pictured in all three pillows in the top image. Pin the piping to the pillow cover and make a smooth but tight corner. With your scissors, cut some slits into the seam allowance of the piping, being careful not to trim into the stitching that is holding the piping together. Cut enough slits so the corner sits flat and smooth.

step 2

Step 3:

Once the corner is clipped, pin it in place along the corner. It’s okay if the piping is a little bunched up, as that will soon be flipped out to the outside of the seam.

Sewing Piping Into a Pillow

Step 4:

Once you’ve reached the starting point, leave the remaining piping a few inches long and unpinned. It’s best to plan for this overlap to be at the bottom of the pillow.

Sewing Piping

Step 5:

The two ends of the piping will overlap with the first edge coming up onto the fabric and the second edge veering off the fabric on top of the first layer of piping. Keep the end out of the way when you start and begin sewing the piping to the pillow with the piping hanging off the fabric. Keep it as a smooth slope that gently glides onto the fabric.

To sew the piping on, use a regular zipper foot and stitch on top of the stitching on the piping so you are right up against the rounded part of the piping. Some machines have optional piping presser feet, so check with your machine dealer to see if that is an option for you.

step 5

Step 6:

When you reach the corner, very slowly and carefully, keep your stitching in line with the stitching of the piping. Keep the piping in place for a nice smooth and slightly rounded corner. Reduce your stitch length if possible, as shorter stitches make for more accurate curves.

step 6

Step 7:

When you reach the end, take the unpinned extra piping at the end and overlap it on top of the first piping. A small little “v” where the two meet is the desired effect.

step 7

Step 8:

Trim off the extra piping from both the start and finish so that the ends are in line with the edge of the fabric.

step 8

Step 9:

Place the second layer of fabric on top of the first, right sides together. Line up the outer edges and pin in place all around the pillow.

step 9

Step 10:

If you have a zipper in the layer that is being pinned to the layer with piping, be sure to open the zipper a little bit so you can get into the pillow after sewing. Also be sure to pin the two layers of the zipper together well so they do not separate during sewing.

piping

Step 11:

Using the same zipper foot, stitch the pillow pieces together on the project’s seam allowance. This should keep you right in line with the edge of the cord in the piping and in line with the stitching on the piping. When you go over the overlap at the start and finish of the piping, simply sew right over it as if it were flat.

step 11

Step 12:

Like when sewing the piping on, when you reach the corner, be careful to keep the stitching smooth and right against the piping. I usually feel along with my fingers to keep the foot firmly against the piping as I’m sewing around the corner.

step 12

Step 13:

Once the layers are sewn together, trim down the corners so that they can be turned right side out with ease and not too much bulk.

step 13

Step 14:

If you had a zipper in the top layer, trim the extra bit of zipper down on both ends of the zipper tape. Be careful not to cut with your nice scissors if there are metal bits to be trimmed down.

step 14

Step 15:

Turn the pillow right side out. The finished piping overlap will look like the image above. Nice and neat!

step 15

Step 16:

Poke out the corners with a point turner or another firm, but not sharp, tool to get a really nice rounded corner. Isn’t that professional looking?

pillow

I hope this shows you that it isn’t too hard to sew piping into a pillow or into anything else for that matter! Piping is a really fun touch that can be sewn into any seam, so give it a try on your next pillow, or dress, or pajamas!

Comments

  1. This is an excellent tutorial. I was so glad to see the piping sewn as the pillow was constructed and not as a separate step. i.e. attaching piping to one side as opposed to both sides of the pillow – I’ve seen that demonstrated many times before. One important tip provided was within step 12, keeping the stitching smooth and *right against the piping* so that it does not extend from the pillow unusually. I also really liked the example shown as to how to *finish* the piping!

    Two thumbs up!

    Susanne

  2. patty vedros says:

    I enjoyed your posts on seam finishes but would love to see how you apply these techniques on intersecting seams. I look forward to your reply.
    Thank You
    Patty

  3. Corinna says:

    Thank you so much, this is really an excellent tutorial..finally I understand how to do it..the only thing is..how can I save this tutorial?

    1. Support says:

      We are thrilled that you liked it! To save this tutorial, you can bookmark it to your web browser to access later, or save the link for when you are ready to revisit this tutorial.

  4. Heike Holder says:

    Well, with a special piping foot it is a lot easier and you also can make your own piping and easy topstiching. And sorry but I do not like how you joined the 2 ends. Too much bulk. You can open the bias tape a bit and overlap so no raw edges can be seen and the cording will be cut so it is not overlapping. And then you do not have any bulk.

  5. Cathy Lee says:

    What size piping are you using?

  6. Susan Paine says:

    Interesting way to bring the two ends together but not a professional finish. Perhaps this is because you are using premade piping? I am a professional ‘sewer’, I work for a drapery and home decorating shop, so I do a ton of pillows, seat cushions and such on a daily basis. I ALWAYS bring the two ends of the cording together. As you come to the end of the piping, you separate the fabric from the cord on the unsewn end and then snip off the cord to match it up perfectly with the other end (the beginning, that is sewn on). Then with the extra fabric that was not cut off I wrap it around both ends, fold down the raw edge and sew down. The two end match up perfectly.

  7. Michelle says:

    Great tutorial, thank you so much for sharing :)

  8. Judy says:

    I am not a professional — self taught for over 60 yrs, but I agree with Susan Paine. This way is much more professional looking. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  9. Toshiko Beeman says:

    I have subscribed to your free classes and enjoyed each of them including sewing machine basics. I always learn something new! This quick lesson (piping on pillows) was very helpful. Thank you.

  10. Yvonne W. Guyton says:

    I did my first experimental piping yesterday. I am so proud of the results. With more practice, it will get easier and better. Thanks for the tutorial.

  11. Beth says:

    This is the wrong way to finish the two raw ends of the piping. You shouldn’t over lap them like this. You actually open up one end of the piping and insert the other end it. It gives it a wonderful finish. I suggest you google it to see what I’m talking about.

  12. Susan says:

    If you aren’t putting in a zipper, how do you stuff the pillow and then sew in closed?

  13. wow this is a cool as site i just learnt how to put dawling on the outside of pillows real cool…and how to put the zip on.

  14. cool as site love it. just learnt how to put dawling on the outside of pillows….and put a zip in properly. professional as…..

  15. Frazel says:

    This tutorial is great, I always found descriptions of doing this confusing before but with the picture this was very clear and made it look easy cant wait to try it.
    Thank you

  16. Joie Adkins says:

    does anyone know of a site that shows how to join the ends of flanged cord?

  17. Joie Adkins says:

    does anyone know of a site that shows how to join the ends of flanged cord?