So just what IS piping? Piping is a trim that you sew into the seams of your bag or other project to give defination or provide contrast. Basically it is a cord wrapped in fabric! Here is an example of a bag with piping:

Upcoming ChrisW Designs bag Pattern!

A bag with Piping Trim!

Can you see the contrasting plain purple stripes? Well…that’s the piping! Piping is easy to make once you know how! While there is commercial piping to be found, made and ready for use….How often can you find it in just the right colour, pattern or prominence YOU want? Making your own is an easy solution!

What you need: 

*Fabric – Depending on how much piping you need – 50cm to 100cm ( ½ – 1 Yard)

*Cord – A good thickness is 3mm (⅛”) thick. As many metres (yards) as you need! TIP: For a more prominent piping, use a thicker cord!

*Rotary cutter and mat (Or scissors if you don’t have them!) and a zipper foot OR a piping foot!

First we need to cut some fabric!

First cut strips of Bias from your chosen fabric. The strips of fabric need to be cut on the Bias otherwise it will be difficult going around curves!  If you are only putting piping along straight seams you won’t need to cut on the Bias however sometimes it simply adds to the
finished effect. For example cutting stripes for piping! Cutting on the Bias simply means to cut across the grain of your fabric on the diagonal.

The width of the strips is determined by the thickness of your cord and the seam allowance you are working with. Measure around your cord and add two lots of seam allowance plus add another 3mm (⅛”) extra for ease. For this example, I am working with a 6mm (¼”) seam allowance and a 3mm (⅛”) cord which measures 1cm around the cord, so I have made my strips 2.5cm (1”) wide. (1cm + 0.6cm+ 0.6cm + 0.3cm = 2.5cm) (⅜”+ ¼” + ¼”+ ⅛” = 1”). Cut as many lengths as you need for your desired yardage of piping!

Follow these steps to fold your fabric ready for cutting. For these photos, I’ve used a 1 metre (slightly more than 1 yard) piece of fabric. Don’t be as lazy as me and IRON your fabric first for a more accurate cut! Fold the selvage edge up to meet the cut edge so you have a 45° angle:

Folding fabric to make piping!

Preparing your fabric!

Now rotate your fabric so that your first fold is on your left.  Take corner A up to meet Corner B so fold is on top of fold. You should have this:

ow to fold fabric for Piping

Rotate your fabric

Now take corner C down, fold on top of fold again. Cut strips as shown by the black lines. Note the first cut is HALF your desired width due to the fold! Different size fabric pieces may look a little different than the photos however the principal is the same!

Folded Fabric

Cut Strips from your folded fabric

OK…. So just HOW do you make the Piping?

(Sorry that my fabric is different here than for the folding photos! I only thought about showing you how to fold the fabric AFTER I photographed the actual making of the piping! Clever, aren’t I? LOLLL)

If you refer one long continuous piping piece, you can make one long strip out of the trips that you cut. Place the strips right sides together in a 90 degree angle and sew across them from corner to corner. Trim seam.

Joining Piping

Right Sides Together

Joining piping

Sew Seam and trim Corner

Press Seam Apart:

Press Seam

Press Seam Apart
making Piping

The Right Side of Seam

Now place your cord onto the strip and fold over, pinning raw edges together:

Pin Piping

Pin Piping

Using your zipper foot, stitch close to the cord. You might like to move your needle position over a little. I don’t actually stitch as close as I can in this step because I don’t want this stitching to show when I attach the piping to my bag (Or other sewing project! LOL) At that point, I stitch as close as I can get to the cord! You can also get a special piping foot which really speeds up the process and makes it easier…but of course, as you see here, I don’t have one! (YET! LOL)


Stitch Your Piping

Great! You now have your own piping which looks like this:

Finished Piping

Finished Piping Ready For Use!

Follow the instructions in your pattern to insert! You can download a PDF copy of “How to Make Your Own Piping” by CLICKING HERE!

I hope you have enjoyed my little piping tutorial! Please feel free to share a link to this post! I’d really appreciate that! 🙂


Similar Posts


  1. Hi Christine! Thanks for stopping by and linking up with my NO RULES Weekend Blog Party 🙂
    Wishing you a Happy New Year!

  2. Adding piping to a project really makes a difference!!! Thanks for sharing how you make your bias strips. I’m pinning to try your way next time. It should be much faster than the way I do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *